Trigger Warning
March 20, 2017 7:54 AM   Subscribe

Theresa May to trigger Article 50 on 29th March: “Theresa May will trigger article 50...the prime minister’s spokesman has confirmed.”

Meanwhile: the first action of the UK government on Brexit will be to enact the “Great Repeal Bill”, whose paradoxical purpose is to copy almost all extant EU laws into United Kingdom legislation; One or two former prime ministers are on manoeuvres; Nicola Sturgeon has called for a second referendum on Scottish independence and invited all those UK residents appalled at the actions of the UK government to move to Scotland; Things are also getting complicated in Northern Ireland. Oh, and a former chancellor has just become editor of the London Evening Standard.

Just to wrap things up, here’s a neo-colonialist read of the situation as things currently stand.
posted by pharm (149 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well hey, look at it this way, the Regency "mini-renaissance" was fueled by England being blockaded from the continent. Some of the finest English art and style come from this period.

Of course the poor suffered horribly.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 7:58 AM on March 20 [9 favorites]


What a nightmare.
posted by Optamystic at 8:07 AM on March 20 [12 favorites]


To give you an insight into the level of negotiating prowess on display by our ruling party, I pluck an exchange from today's European Scrutiny Committee hearing (courtesy of the Guardian):

Sir Bill Cash: Has someone told our EU partners who are demanding €60bn for withdrawal that we have been net contributors. And in 1953 we remitted half of all German debt. It might be worth tactfully reminding people of this. We don’t owe anything to the EU, whether that is legal or political.

David Jones [Brexit Minister] says he does not know how tactful you can be when mentioning the London debt agreement.

posted by mushhushshu at 8:09 AM on March 20 [8 favorites]


Trigger Warning indeed... [claps, mournfully]
posted by protorp at 8:12 AM on March 20 [4 favorites]


Stupid, stupid, dumb, insane, moronic, ridiculous, and much more.

The *only* way this makes any sense whatsoever is if you think that the EU and the Euro will collapse in the next five-ten years, in which case the UK will be a safe haven from god-awful chaos in Europe. It's not impossible given Grexit, allegedly ropey Deutsche Bank, Le Pen, and not least the fact that Putin and Trump want Merkel gone and exactly that scenario.

If this doesn't happen, then it's destination TrumpPutin Tax Haven of WEngland, a small bigoted poor narrow minded inward looking shitty little country - with London an opulent city of dirty, tax-free dodgy money - and the rest of the country fucked.
posted by rolandroland at 8:12 AM on March 20 [32 favorites]


National identity is a sickness.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:13 AM on March 20 [63 favorites]


"...We are going to be out there, negotiating hard, delivering on what the British people voted for."

If only anyone knew what that was...
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:16 AM on March 20 [10 favorites]


Optamystic: "What a nightmare."

There's today's eponysterical, right there.
posted by chavenet at 8:17 AM on March 20 [5 favorites]


National identity is a sickness.

With the greatest of respect, would you say that about any other form of identity?

Would you agree with me that employing leverage on any division between two groups of people, whether that be national, linguistic, ethnic, religious or racial, might be the fault of those demagogues who do so, rather than the fact we all have differences and see ourselves as falling into particular groups?
posted by mushhushshu at 8:18 AM on March 20 [4 favorites]




.
posted by lalochezia at 8:26 AM on March 20 [2 favorites]


"Of course the poor suffered horribly."
Abehammerb Lincoln, I had the misfortune of taking AP European History back in high school and came away with little respect for historians or the ruling class. This is an apt summary of all of it.
posted by Leelas at 8:27 AM on March 20 [4 favorites]


effbot Is there context to that? I assume it's a joke but the Twitter account you linked to is protected so you can't read the tweet.
posted by diziet at 8:27 AM on March 20


Goodbye, United Kingdom.

effbot Is there context to that? I assume it's a joke but the Twitter account you linked to is protected so you can't read the tweet.

Even the cows are trying to get the fuck away from the UK before Brexit.
posted by Talez at 8:29 AM on March 20 [3 favorites]


NHS facing 'mission impossible next year'

Good thing the UK is brexiting and bringing back 350 million pounds a week, right? Right?
posted by Talez at 8:31 AM on March 20 [15 favorites]


and invited all those UK residents appalled at the actions of the UK government to move to Scotland

How about US residents appalled at the actions of the US government? Asking for a friend.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:31 AM on March 20 [19 favorites]


It's hard to see how May can ever hope to negotiate from a position of strength in regards to the EU. Any deal that grants access to the EU is almost certain to be less favorable than the status quo pre-Brexit and is almost certain to fail to "secure the borders" because free movement is pretty much an absolute condition of full access to the EU common market. Furthermore all of the big continental financial centers seem to be absolutely salivating at the thought that the London financial institutions will largely abandon London in order to maintain access to the EU.

There just seems to be absolutely no way to get anything close to a solution that will make most British happy not to mention all the challenges in the other parts of the UK. The UKIP assholes aren't going to get all the foreigners to leave and the economic chaos inherent in trying to go it alone in a world market where you are a bit player seems beyond stupid.

It seems like the best case scenario for May is that Sturgeon actually goes ahead with Scottish independence which makes Britain unassailably conservative enough that even when stuff goes to shit they can avoid being blamed and relegated to the opposition. That and the EU disintegrates fast enough that she can do a "We told you so" excuse. Seems incredibly tricky to navigate that sort of scenario and almost certain to result in your political career being destroyed within the next 12-18 months.

Is maintaining some semblance of national pride really so important to maintain that walking back from the abyss is impossible to entertain?
posted by vuron at 8:32 AM on March 20 [8 favorites]


The *only* way this makes any sense whatsoever is if you think that the EU and the Euro will collapse in the next five-ten years, in which case the UK will be a safe haven from god-awful chaos in Europe. It's not impossible given Grexit, allegedly ropey Deutsche Bank, Le Pen, and not least the fact that Putin and Trump want Merkel gone and exactly that scenario.

Oh, I didn't think about it that way, but that must be how the Tory Brexiteers were reasoning. Good point. And I can see how it looked that way last year. However it seems the EU leaders are circling the wagons now, and the Dutch election is an indication that at least some have their populations' backing. Anti-EU rhetoric is way down here in Denmark, and many politicians are beginning to say out loud what they should have said decades ago, that we are interdependent within the EU.
The French and German elections will be interesting, but my intuition is that many people have been scared by Brexit. And that at least Merkel is suddenly doing very well again, after a weak phase.
posted by mumimor at 8:36 AM on March 20 [7 favorites]


Is there context to that?

Context here: Could the Article 50 notification be written on the side of a cow catapulted over the English Channel? (Answer: yes.) He's referring to the case of Board of Inland Revenue v Haddock, a.k.a. the Negotiable Cow.
posted by verstegan at 8:36 AM on March 20 [9 favorites]


With the greatest of respect, would you say that about any other form of identity?

National identity has more blood on its hands than any other concept of the past century-plus, at least. Given its access to modern tools, it's got to be on the all-time leader board.
posted by praemunire at 8:38 AM on March 20 [23 favorites]


I assume it's a joke but the Twitter account you linked to is protected so you can't read the tweet.

Oh, missed that. The joke was just that the first attempt to deliver the notification seems to have failed.

(The choice of messenger might have been a bit unexpected, but is in line with that little detail that apparently nobody in the UK government knows if UK has any trade negotiators, or where they are.)

Talez' interpretation also works, of course.
posted by effbot at 8:41 AM on March 20 [2 favorites]


How about US residents appalled at the actions of the US government? Asking for a friend.

I mean, I won't pretend I haven't looked at Scottish, Irish, and Dutch real estate lately, but considering Americans have spent 70 years building up the military capacity to melt the entire gd world, I sort of feel like we should stay here and fight to keep that military capacity from actually melting the entire world.

At least until climate change kicks in.

I don't know what to say, UK people, except that I hope you guys can wrestle control of the ship back from the crazy people, too.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:42 AM on March 20 [7 favorites]


And verstegan's is even better. How did I forget about that cow, especially when I read that article just the other day.
posted by effbot at 8:43 AM on March 20


Fetchez le vache!
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:43 AM on March 20 [12 favorites]


With the greatest of respect, would you say that about any other form of identity?

Would you agree with me that employing leverage on any division between two groups of people, whether that be national, linguistic, ethnic, religious or racial, might be the fault of those demagogues who do so, rather than the fact we all have differences and see ourselves as falling into particular groups?


No, I would not agree. The demagogues are a lagging indicator of our need to blame/demonize/other, a symptom of our collective sickness, rather than the instigators of said sickness in an otherwise enlightened species. In fact, we have to work damned hard to establish societies that respect and support differences, rather than falling back in to our bad collective habits. Demagogues arise to exploit these tendencies.
posted by Existential Dread at 8:44 AM on March 20 [4 favorites]


Brexit was when I first realized Trump had a chance.

Same feeling both times. I went to bed confident sanity would prevail, woke to find I was in Bizzaro World.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:44 AM on March 20 [29 favorites]


National identity has more blood on its hands than any other concept of the past century-plus, at least.

Messrs. Stalin, Mao, and Pot on lines 1-3.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:45 AM on March 20 [13 favorites]


The Brexiteers seem to think that they can work out a cosy deal with the EU. I’m really not sure that’s going to work, but if it does it’ll be an impressive piece of diplomacy.

My take: The EU was quite happy to face down Greece’s threats to quit the Euro. They’ll face down the UK in order to preserve the union at all costs too. If that means chucking us out on our ears with no deal, then they’ll be quite happy to do that.

It’s this key point that I don’t think the core Brexiteers quite grasp. Yes, a hard Brexit will be bad for the EU. But the EU leadership (both national and at the EU level) sees that as a less bad outcome than anything that threatens the future of the EU, so they’re quite happy to walk away from negotiations if that’s what it takes.
posted by pharm at 8:45 AM on March 20 [19 favorites]


National identity has more blood on its hands than any other concept of the past century-plus, at least. Given its access to modern tools, it's got to be on the all-time leader board.

I think "nation" and "national identity" can be used in many ways. I think the big problem is that, insidiously, national identity has come to mean both ethnic and political identity, with less and less recognition that things could be any different. It is certainly what underlies "nationalist" movements.
posted by Zalzidrax at 8:46 AM on March 20 [3 favorites]


I haven't seen any description of any hoped-for brexit outcome that doesn't amount to "we want exactly what we have now, except with more britishness and less brown people."
posted by mhoye at 8:48 AM on March 20 [32 favorites]


(As I felt the need to note on Hacker News ...)

I would just like to note that March 25th (Saturday) is the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which created the European Economic Community (from which the EU evolved).

Imagine serving divorce papers on your spouse on a significant wedding anniversary, and now consider the message it sends.

It's like Theresa May has carefully picked the time to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty that will cause maximum offense to the people she's about to negotiate a critically important trade deal with (from a position of inferior leverage).
posted by cstross at 8:48 AM on March 20 [27 favorites]


Goodbye, United Kingdom.

Very much this, I'm afraid.

This article in the Guardian cheered me up a bit though. It points out that:
The real story last week in the Netherlands was the historic collapse of the Dutch equivalent of the Labour party – one of the two pillars of the postwar consensus. The other story was the spectacular gains for two parties that are unashamedly pro-EU: the Democrats 66 and the Greens. So much for the collapse in support for the “broken, dying EU project” that the Daily Mail likes to talk about.
posted by ZipRibbons at 8:49 AM on March 20 [3 favorites]


There is absolutely no indication that the EU will let the UK off easily. It would be very foolish of them to do so, and they know it. IMO, the reelection of Donald Tusk was a strong signal that these guys are playing hard and strong, and they will not be stopped.
posted by mumimor at 8:50 AM on March 20 [2 favorites]


What I would really like to see is a strong positive statement that the farmers are going to be left to rot outside the Common Agricultural Policy.
posted by biffa at 8:52 AM on March 20 [5 favorites]


Another depressing headline: Brexit more important than keeping the UK together, public say in poll for the Telegraph. Or, as one reddit commenter put it: ‘anything to save ourselves from the nightmare of a profitable and convenient partnership with our neighbours on the continent.’
posted by misteraitch at 8:53 AM on March 20 [24 favorites]


The situation is absurd. May and the Tories have adopted a hard stance knowing they are now too far along to back down for fear of electoral backlash. The EU negotiators will have to adopt a hard stance knowing that any concessions they give to the UK will immediately be demanded by other EU members on threat of the whole thing collapsing.

I don't see an easy way out. Perhaps the negotiations will go so badly and become so protracted that the public mood warms towards a softer deal – but that seems like one hell of a gamble currently. What a mess.
posted by mushhushshu at 8:56 AM on March 20


This article in the Guardian cheered me up a bit though. It points out that:

Not sure why thats cheerful. The Dutch election (and now upcoming French it looks like) will narrowly eke out wins for the same out neoliberal cheerleaders that may or may not win next time. In the US, the same old neoliberal warmonger lost and now we have herr trumpy, so be careful for wishing for collapse of Labor parties. We need the worker, the poor, the needy and to help everybody no matter how boorish or not culturally liberal they are...
posted by yonation at 8:57 AM on March 20 [2 favorites]


Let lies be submitted to a post-reality world.
posted by runcifex at 8:57 AM on March 20


The reality is as long as the French election doesn't go to Le Pen and Merkel stays in control over Germany most of the political fallout of a Brexit will have been successfully managed by the continent.

The actual negotiating parties will be some of those 'faceless Brussels bureaucrats' that everyone seems to enjoy punching on and they have very very few reasons to be lenient with the UK and about a zillion reasons to take a very hard line.

In contrast May definitely has to deliver the equivalent of the status quo with less refugees and less Eastern Europeans to make people happy and she about as likely to restore the Victorian Empire as accomplish that task.

I mean this is an absolute failure of negotiation, you don't go to renegotiate terms when you're position is completely awful and the opposition has a nearly unassailable position of strength. If anything the UK should basically be assuming that they'll get a shittier version of the Norway-EU relationship.
posted by vuron at 8:58 AM on March 20 [8 favorites]




I still can't believe that a party that has one MP managed to coerce the ruling party that it needed to have a referendum in the first place.

Small minded people with only their own careers to think about will doom us all.
posted by trif at 9:01 AM on March 20 [12 favorites]


@yonation - it was "the spectacular gains for two parties that are unashamedly pro-EU" that cheered me up, rather than the collapse of the PvdA.
posted by ZipRibbons at 9:05 AM on March 20 [2 favorites]



My take: The EU was quite happy to face down Greece’s threats to quit the Euro. They’ll face down the UK in order to preserve the union at all costs too. If that means chucking us out on our ears with no deal, then they’ll be quite happy to do that.

It’s this key point that I don’t think the core Brexiteers quite grasp.


I think they do grasp it, but it won't affect them because most of them are rich. In fact, most will benefit from the resulting de-regulated tax-haven based shitplace as they'll be able to exploit the fuck out of anyone unlucky enough to be left here (in WEngland).

So, I'm sure they do, they have zero capacity for empathy, don't give a shit, and probably look forward to it.
posted by rolandroland at 9:08 AM on March 20 [4 favorites]


FYI March for Europe happening this Saturday 25th
posted by litleozy at 9:24 AM on March 20 [4 favorites]


I still can't believe that a party that has one MP managed to coerce the ruling party that it needed to have a referendum in the first place.

That's not what happened. The actual ruling party, with its many MPs who have wanted to leave the EU for a long time, coerced its leader into holding a referendum if he wanted to stay as their leader. He agreed, because that's the sort of short term imbecility that characterises our political class. Shortly after he was re-elected as PM he started the referendum process.
posted by biffa at 9:29 AM on March 20 [9 favorites]


Eurosceptic politicians and journalists have been banging on about the evils of Europe for decades. There’s no way they can allow themselves to admit that they never actually had a plan for what to do instead.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 9:30 AM on March 20 [1 favorite]


Unemployment down, exports up. "Brexit has still to hit." Well, sure, but so far nothing much feels as though it has changed for the worse. Remainers have been destroying expectations so aggressively that they risk making even a messy exit look relatively good. May only needs a few small wins and a moderate amount of "not too bad" agreements, and the end to uncertainty will help immensely.

I thought leaving the EU would be immediately bad but positive in the long run. I no longer believe that it will be as bad, or for as long, as I thought.
posted by Emma May Smith at 9:34 AM on March 20


I do believe this whole thing is going to be slower and less dramatic, but at the same time less predictable, than many people on both sides believe.

The pantomime in Scotland looks to me like the SNP simply being desperate for another shot of referendum adrenaline, whereas it would do better to concentrate on trying to provide evidence that it can run the country properly.

What does worry me is the Irish situation, which is really difficult but seems to be more or less ignored or dismissed in Westminster so far.
posted by Segundus at 9:40 AM on March 20 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't worry too much about the German elections. If Merkel doesn't win, it will be Schulz's turn who is very pro EU. All significant parties are pro EU.
The far left "Die Linke" is somewhat anti EU, the far right AfD is anti EU. Only "The Linke" has some chance of becoming part of a new government coalition and is not that invested in their anti-EU stance. They are probably just fishing for extremist votes and do not plan to deliver. (Nevertheless I am not interested in testing that theory and would be happy to see both the Linke and the AfD not getting many votes.)
The French elections, those will be nerve-wrecking.
posted by mmkhd at 9:41 AM on March 20 [1 favorite]


£ has dropped like a rock Emma May Smith. Both those outcomes are reasonable consequences of that drop in the short term.

Brexit, meanwhile, hasn’t actually happened yet nor has the form which it will take been decided.
posted by pharm at 9:45 AM on March 20 [14 favorites]


I was in Ireland (not Northern Ireland) a few weeks ago on business, the prospect of a united Ireland due to Brexit was all anyone could talk about. The optimism there was a refreshing change from being back here in the US and the overwhelming feeling of impending doom. Seriously, the smiles and chatter of folks asking my option and listening to what I thought was intoxicating (also the beer - but never mind that).

In short, if you're feeling bad, a quick trip to Dublin to talk to taxi drivers may be the single best anti-depressant of all time. As one told me, "We've finally figured out that we can use words and numbers instead of fists and guns to make a difference, I hope the rest of the world finds that out soon..."
posted by 1f2frfbf at 9:47 AM on March 20 [12 favorites]


The pantomime in Scotland looks to me like the SNP simply being desperate for another shot of referendum adrenaline, whereas it would do better to concentrate on trying to provide evidence that it can run the country properly.

That's not how it looks to me up here in Scotland. I think there's a very significant chance of this breaking up the UK.

In related news: the Scottish, N. Irish and Welsh governments apparently did not get advance notification of this announcement, and found out the same time as the rest of us. That's not going to win many hearts and minds...
posted by Catseye at 9:48 AM on March 20 [16 favorites]


I thought leaving the EU would be immediately bad but positive in the long run. I no longer believe that it will be as bad, or for as long, as I thought.

Right up until the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland reverts to how it was before the Good Friday Agreement--nothing Troubling about that prospect, I guess.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 9:49 AM on March 20 [11 favorites]


The Tories have drafted some terribly written law in their time, but I have a feeling the Great Repeal Bill may top them all.

Remainers have been destroying expectations so aggressively that they risk making even a messy exit look relatively good.

Look good to who, though? What does it looking good actually entail?
posted by threetwentytwo at 9:51 AM on March 20 [2 favorites]


What is the supposed benefit of exit? The strength of exit is that you threaten it to get concessions but that you never actually go through with it. Think of it as the Quebec gambit.

Instead it's always seemed like England would like to be part of a greater union just not one dominated by the Germans. But Trump is rapidly showing that the special relationship means jack squat in Washington now.

Can the UK stand alone in the world economy? It seems that outside of a few Euroskeptics the idea that the UK can effectively compete with the US or China or the Common Market is laughable at best.
posted by vuron at 9:55 AM on March 20 [2 favorites]


It's really nothing to do with the EU and everything to do with sovereignty, in that the EU was the only thing stopping the UK racing to the bottom and becoming a massive tax haven. The UK political class has sold out the continent (and the person in the street) to become the class snitch for an extra bag of sweets from the rich kids.

United we stood.
posted by davemee at 10:08 AM on March 20 [8 favorites]


Nicola Sturgeon has called for a second referendum on Scottish independence and invited all those UK residents appalled at the actions of the UK government to move to Scotland

is she taking rhetorical notes from US conservatives? "oh, there are no jobs there? well just pick up and move to where the jobs are, duh!" is a common refrain on this side of the Atlantic.
posted by indubitable at 10:18 AM on March 20


Nicola Sturgeon has called for a second referendum on Scottish independence and invited all those UK residents appalled at the actions of the UK government to move to Scotland

is she taking rhetorical notes from US conservatives? "oh, there are no jobs there? well just pick up and move to where the jobs are, duh!" is a common refrain on this side of the Atlantic.


There's a difference between "Why don't you go to where the jobs are?" and "Why don't you come to where the jobs are?" Plus that wasn't really about jobs, so.
posted by Etrigan at 10:20 AM on March 20 [31 favorites]


Unemployment down, exports up. "Brexit has still to hit." Well, sure, but so far nothing much feels as though it has changed for the worse.

Food Inflation Doubles In a Month As UK Shoppers Start To Feel the Pinch e.g. butter up 15%, fish up 8%, and tea up more than 6% since EU referendum

The chief difficulty is that the results of Brexit won't be felt as direct shocks but as cascading effects through the economy. For instance, there's been a slowdown in direct business investment and in the growth of the service sector, which will affect unemployment eventually but not immediately. Meanwhile, housing prices are up, and with construction costs increasing because of the weak pound, new housing isn't being built to offset this. As wage growth continues to decrease and inflation increase, pressure will come down on incomes and then in turn on consumer confidence. The Bank of England already cut interest rate in half following the EU referendum, but it has only so many mitigating monetary tools at its disposal.

The Tories appear to be betting they can ram through Brexit quickly enough to prevent the electorate from putting two and two together when it comes to its consequences. International trade mechanisms and supply chains are harder to grasp from the ground level than, say, fewer Polish groceries on the High Street.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:21 AM on March 20 [17 favorites]


There's a difference between "Why don't you go to where the jobs are?" and "Why don't you come to where the jobs are?" Plus that wasn't really about jobs, so.

it's the same problem: the people who are going to be most hurt by this are the least able to just up stakes and move to a new area. she's addressing the problem of Scotland taking most of the socialist-leaning politics of the UK with it when it secedes by saying, "oh, if that hurts you, you're free to move here, we won't stop you".
posted by indubitable at 10:27 AM on March 20


A bunch of people got their country back, or at least so they are inclined to believe. They are welcome to it. I have secured an​other.
posted by vbfg at 10:30 AM on March 20 [4 favorites]


Sturgeon has called for a second referendum on Scottish independence and invited all those UK residents appalled at the actions of the UK government to move to Scotland;

They are going to rebuild Hadrian's Wall. It will be a great, beautiful wall. And they will make the English pay for it.
posted by JackFlash at 10:31 AM on March 20 [14 favorites]


They are going to rebuild Hadrian's Wall. It will be a great, beautiful wall. And they will make the English pay for it.

A friendly reminder that Hadrian's Wall is not the same as the Anglo-Scottish border. In fact there's a chunk of England north of the wall that's bigger than Rhode Island.
posted by mushhushshu at 10:43 AM on March 20 [3 favorites]


Brexit was when I first realized Trump had a chance.

Same feeling both times. I went to bed confident sanity would prevail, woke to find I was in Bizzaro World.


Me, too. In fact, the day of the U.S. election was the last day that I watched or listened to the news. I used to listen to a *lot* of NPR and BBC World News but I have completely lost faith that most of the news media can effectively provide important, substantive information especially now that the U.S. federal government is led by a man who is largely unpredictable.
posted by ElKevbo at 10:43 AM on March 20 [4 favorites]


I am still completely amazed that many people in the UK are willingly giving up their right to live and work in 27 other nations and the right of their children to do so and are like...*shrug*.

But this equality and partnership is not a model that seems to come naturally. From what I can tell what they yearn for is a lost empire full of other countries slaving away on their behalf. Or perhaps being the weak kid riding the bully's shoulder (USA). But I think Britain, with all its Lords and castles, is about to be pulled into the 21st century. Unfortunately, it will inveitably come with lots of needless pain and suffering both for them and other countries around them.
posted by vacapinta at 10:44 AM on March 20 [9 favorites]


A friendly reminder that Hadrian's Wall is not the same as the Anglo-Scottish border. In fact there's a chunk of England north of the wall that's bigger than Rhode Island.

The Antonine Wall, then?
posted by Sangermaine at 10:54 AM on March 20 [1 favorite]


I am still completely amazed that many people in the UK are willingly giving up their right to live and work in 27 other nations and the right of their children to do so and are like...*shrug*.

There are probably two parts to this -- one, many of these voters will spend their entire lives (apart from some hols) within a 25 mile radius of where they were born. And the others can't even comprehend a world where they'll lose rights. That's what they mean by the "great deal" they expect to get: strip the rights of the foreigners, keep the rights of the Brits.

(There's a bleak as hell Guardian video talking to expats in Spain that articulates this beautifully. "We're not foreigners, we're expats. Brits can't be foreigners wherever they are.")

Oh, there's a third part: a huge chunk of the Leave vote came from the Boomers, who were in late teens/early 20s when the UK began joining what became the EU. So, yet again they have taken something fantastic given to them by their parents, and promptly destroyed it for their children. "Rights of the children" seem utterly academic for this lot, who will if pressed probably only say "well it'll be hard work but this country needs some hard work, we had to work jolly hard in our day".
posted by bonaldi at 11:00 AM on March 20 [41 favorites]


  The Antonine Wall, then?

No, that wall has more than half of Scotland's population south of it. Any colonists who considered the locals bandits really shouldn't be defining country borders nearly 2000 years later.

This is all so very wrong, this Brexit thing.
posted by scruss at 11:22 AM on March 20 [2 favorites]


Can't count on an ancient wall to lock down the border. Really need some sort of new castle up there to be sure.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 11:25 AM on March 20 [7 favorites]


What is the supposed benefit of exit

Self-rule, I imagine. But they've been promised it with candy stripes, and there's bound to be a rude awakening.
posted by corb at 11:31 AM on March 20


Sovereignty is the smug bullshit answer you will get if you ask middle class brexiters why they think it is imperative to leave. But if you dig many have also bought into the imaginary benefits we will get from trading with people further away and with less money.
posted by biffa at 11:40 AM on March 20 [7 favorites]


Any time any Tory ever, ever claims anyone else is foolish or irresponsible, the instant answer for all time has to be:

"Irresponsible? Your party held a non-binding referendum in a stupid gamble to quiet down your Eurosceptic wing, lost it, then doubled down and ran the country into economic collapse and balkanisation so you wouldn't lose the frothing xenophobe vote. For a non-binding referendum."

Me-from-2014 is standing agog. The number of just-can't-happens that just went and happened, over and over again, to get us to this point, is frankly astonishing.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:04 PM on March 20 [37 favorites]


amazed that many people in the UK are willingly giving up their right to live and work in 27 other nations

Nobody wants to live in those dirty, backward places, vacapinta. The people who were born there are all desperate to live in England; they huddle in Calais waiting for even the most hopeless opportunity to smuggle themselves in; they drown trying to swim to England, the one country where everyone wants to be. Every single migrant who gets into Europe heads straight for England as soon as ever they can. They all end up here, and 90% of the people who voted to keep us in the EU were immigrants themselves, doing it so that even more of them can come and live off our welfare state. Have you not read the Daily Mail?
posted by Segundus at 12:05 PM on March 20 [14 favorites]


I think that Douglas Adams captured the mentality best with the people of Krikkit. Not, of course Brexit itself, but whatever those same people were up to in 1980s Britain*:

The reason they why they had never thought to themselves "We are alone in the Universe," was that until one night, they didn't know about the Universe.

[They discover the universe outside their world]

They flew out of the cloud.

They saw the staggering jewels of the night in their infinite dust and their minds sang with fear.

"It'll have to go," the men of Krikkit said as they headed back for home.

Overnight the whole population of Krikkit was transformed from being charming, delightful, intelligent if whimsical, ordinary people, into charming, delightful, intelligent, whimsical, manic xenophobes. The idea of a Universe didn't fit into their world picture, so to speak. They simply couldn't cope with it. And so, charmingly, delightfully, intelligently, whimsically if you like, they decided to destroy it.


*To give them their due, many, but not all, of Thatcher's cabinet have come out all guns blazing against Brexit. Dishonourable mention to Nigel Lawson, and some other more forgettable people
posted by ambrosen at 12:19 PM on March 20 [22 favorites]


Sorry, a poor joke. I certainly didn't mean to compare Sturgeon to Trump. I meant to parody Trump.
posted by JackFlash at 12:20 PM on March 20


What a nightmare.

Fortunately, I’ve been saving a hash brown for years.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:08 PM on March 20


"Irresponsible? Your party held a non-binding referendum in a stupid gamble to quiet down your Eurosceptic wing, lost it, then doubled down and ran the country into economic collapse and balkanisation so you wouldn't lose the frothing xenophobe vote. For a non-binding referendum."

That's what gets me. Parliament is sovereign in the UK, not the people.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:12 PM on March 20 [7 favorites]


I am still completely amazed that many people in the UK are willingly giving up their right to live and work in 27 other nations and the right of their children to do so and are like...*shrug*.

This is what pisses me off the most. I was born in England in 1973, the year the UK joined the European Economic Community, so I've been "a European" for my entire life.

It's more than just a nice idea to me. I've travelled widely, learned three European languages, and have been living in the Netherlands with my English partner for the past 15 years. We moved here just before they introduced the Euro, in fact.

Our kids were born here. We own a house here. I run a business here. It has been easy to do this, and we have felt lucky to be alive at a time when this way of life is possible.

Now here comes Brexit to take all that — my birthright and everything I've done with it — and just wipe it away like an embarrassing shit stain in the guest room lavatory.

And that hurts. It hurts me emotionally and it's almost certainly going to hurt me and my family in other, more material ways within the next few years.

In her conference speech last year, Theresa May said: “If you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere.”

This infuriated me so much that I looked for more context. Surely she couldn't be as bone-headed as this makes her sound...

I found a piece in the New Statesman in which she explains her reasoning:
“What I was saying was more about [how] people should have a root in a community, should have a feeling that they are part of a community and that they have responsibilities in a community,” May told me. “I was talking about the concept that you can be around the whole world and not have those responsibilities anywhere. I wasn’t getting at a particular grouping or individual . . . Recently there’s been a sense that all that matters is the individual, rather than their responsibilities to other people. I think we need to redress that balance.”
I have extensive roots in my community. I feel deeply and strongly connected to my community: the European Community.

But apparently it would be better — more community-minded, less individualistic — to pull the UK out of this community. Setting an example at a national level that the best way to engage is to withdraw?

Words fail me.

Now I feel stupid for not speaking up like this earlier, when I might have been able to make a difference. I just didn't realise that so many people didn't feel the same way as I do.

If push comes to shove — if the result of the negotiations is Britain turning its back on me and my family — then I will give up my British passport and become a Dutch citizen. I'll do it reluctantly, but I'll feel like I have to.

I may come from England, but I live in Europe.

Fuck Brexit. Fuck the Leavers. Fuck the Conservative party. Fuck you David Cameron, and fuck you Theresa May.
posted by ZipRibbons at 2:14 PM on March 20 [87 favorites]


The chain of mendacious falsehoods on which Brexit is built is long and undeniable.

1. The Tory press decided - or discovered - that blaming Europe for everything, mostly by straightforward fabrication, was good for business.
2. Politicians took note, and were happy to use this as cover for mismanagement and the deployment of dismal doctrinate policies.
3. The advent of the Euro was used as a rallying cry to GTFO of Europe, and UKIP started to get some traction to the right of the Tories. That we didn't adopt the Euro is ignored.
4. The right-wing press got on board as its readers were primed and ready
5. Fearing a split on the right, Cameron decided to pledge a referendum on the issue, to cork UKIPs guns, on the grounds that it couldn't possibly go for Leave.
6. Labour... oh, let's not talk about Labour.
7. Referendume time! The quantity of lies at this point is more numerous than the stars at night.
8. The 'advisory' referendum that does not mention leaving the common trade area, imposing immigraion restrictions or baling out of most cross-Europe agreements, is taken as binding on all these things.
9. Hard Brexit is going to be good for the country, so don't think about arguing.

The rumour is that May is going to call a surprise election for two months' time, to establish a solid mandate for fucking the entire country up the arse with a welding rod and grinding paste. It's inconceivable she'd lose, as the by-now-near-total collapse of Labour is gathering pace, and there's nobody else.

Still, there is a chance that as the actual hour of Brexit gets closer, the signs of fabulous chaos will become too great to ignore and the whole thing will be called off at metaphorical gunpoint.

But by all that is evil in this world, my viscerial hatred of the right could not be more solid if it was supercooled granite.
posted by Devonian at 2:42 PM on March 20 [39 favorites]


Brexit, meanwhile, hasn’t actually happened yet nor has the form which it will take been decided.


Brexit will come in one of the pre-chosen forms! During the rectification of the Vuldronaii, Brexit came as a large and moving Torb! Then, during the third reconciliation of the last of the Meketrex Supplicants, they chose a new form for it...that of a giant Sloar! Many Shuvs and Zools knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Sloar that day, I can tell you!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:48 PM on March 20 [28 favorites]


"I tried to think of the most harmless thing. Something I loved from my childhood. Something that could never ever possibly destroy us."

*two-hundred-foot Basil Brush smashes Nelson's Column* BOOM BOOM!
posted by delfin at 2:55 PM on March 20 [19 favorites]



The chain of mendacious falsehoods on which Brexit is built is long and undeniable.


0. I once asked Rupert Murdoch why he was so opposed to the European Union. 'That’s easy,' he replied. 'When I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice.'
posted by lalochezia at 3:07 PM on March 20 [19 favorites]


If push comes to shove — if the result of the negotiations is Britain turning its back on me and my family — then I will give up my British passport and become a Dutch citizen. I'll do it reluctantly, but I'll feel like I have to.

Meanwhile, for those of us in the reverse position, the UK government has been hard at work making sure it's as hard as possible for us to get British citizenship. People who have lived here almost their entire lives, or are married to Brits, are finding themselves ineligible. In every little detail, Britain is dedicated to ensuring they stick two fingers up to the continent, come what may. Parliament made it quite clear that the UK government intends to play hardball with the rights of EU nationals here. I can only hope that EU negotiators are not above doing the same when it comes to it, or we're completely fucked (as opposed to the second-class citizen status we have now, to an extent not remotely true if Brits in the rest of the EU).
posted by Dysk at 3:08 PM on March 20 [14 favorites]


> "Can't count on an ancient wall to lock down the border. Really need some sort of new castle up there to be sure."

It can get cold up in the north. Better bring some coal there when you do it.
posted by kyrademon at 3:56 PM on March 20 [3 favorites]


The Leave campaign was an abomination but I don't think it's possible to understand Brexit without a critical view of EU institutions and policy. The European Court of Justice has been rather creative in justifying its continuously expanding jurisdiction. The Euro was an expensive, poorly thought out gambit (and an outright failure according to some). The Eastern enlargement brought in deeply illiberal politics and fierce competition on labor (with ensuing exploitation and resentment). The "rescue" of Greece exposed a damningly callous, domineering side to the EU project. The negotiations with Ukraine and Turkey have resulted in a dangerous mess.

The article 50 exit negotiations with the UK present a serious challenge for the EU, perhaps the most serious in decades. It is the first time that the EU will have to negotiate with a country that (as a nuclear power, Commonwealth leader, financial hub, and architect of the post-War order) cannot be cowed into submission as easily as, say, Greece. I am not convinced that the EU will come out on top, but I don't think the UK will, either. The problem with Brexit is that it is difficult to see how there can be any winners, except, perhaps, peddlers of chaos and fear.
posted by dmh at 5:14 PM on March 20 [8 favorites]


Its certainly possible to see everyone being worse off as a result of Brexit; its also possible to see the UK being the bigger loser of the two.

The only mystery is what flavours of mendacious bullshit will we be fed for the coming decade as examples of how we are actually better off. Obviously any problems will be blamed on the EU for their intransigence and the naysayers for doing Britain down. I guess we might be looking at bigging up the new investment throwing out financial regulation will bring, while ignoring the collapse of our currently semi-legit financial sector as business shifts to Paris and Frankfurt.
posted by biffa at 5:47 PM on March 20 [2 favorites]


This seems to be taking democracy a little too far. If the majority voted to commit mass suicide, would the government feel obligated to pass out the cyanide?
posted by Mental Wimp at 6:07 PM on March 20 [3 favorites]


I, myself, blame Obama.
posted by Chitownfats at 6:09 PM on March 20


The problem with Brexit is that it is difficult to see how there can be any winners, except, perhaps, peddlers of chaos and fear.
Is Pocaf an alternate spelling for Putin, by any chance? Because it bloody should be.
posted by comealongpole at 6:47 PM on March 20 [1 favorite]


@Emma May Smith...

but so far nothing much feels as though it has changed for the worse.

I'm taking a long shot here, but you might be too young to remember the Phony War. Like changing the course of an oil tanker, these things take time to work their way through. As others have remarked, we're already seeing price increases in basic goods and a change in the value of the pound. And where I work in finance, plans are well advanced to relocate some or all business to Europe.

I no longer believe that it will be as bad, or for as long, as I thought.

Hold on to that thought, because you might need it.

Whatever way you look at it, the UK is basically walking out of a relationship. What motivation does the other side have to give them an easy ride? Absolutely none that I can see, and asserting that "they need us more than we need them" doesn't seem to be based on anything very solid... or any more solid than the other promises, plans and vapourware from the leaders of the leave side.

The EU's primary objective at this point has to be to preserve the union, and that means making it unappealing for other countries to want to leave. I'd fully expect the UK to get offered a take-it-or-leave-it "hard exit" from the union, pour encourager les autres.
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 7:32 PM on March 20 [19 favorites]


dmh: "It is the first time that the EU will have to negotiate with a country that (as a nuclear power, Commonwealth leader, financial hub, and architect of the post-War order) cannot be cowed into submission as easily as, say, Greece."

This is the part I don't quite get. What leverage does the UK have over the EU? The only lever I can tell is their ability to impose punitive tariffs on EU imports. But the EU has the same power against the UK and the relative importances are not even close. The combined EU constitutes the biggest market for UK's exports while for each individual EU country, I believe the UK represents a significant but not overwhelmingly dominant export market. E.g.: the UK represents less than 10% of Germany's, France's, Italy's, and the Netherlands' exports whereas the whole EU represents 40-50% of UK's exports. And this is without even considering the two-year deadline or the possibility of European veto. I mean, it is true that the UK can bloody the EU to a much greater degree than Greece ever could; but that's not exactly the same thing as having a good bargaining position.

I don't see how the four factors you've listed contribute significantly to the UK's bargaining position:
  1. Unless the UK is willing to go nuclear over Article 50 negotiations, their status as a nuclear power should not really hold any sway. NATO, not Lisbon, would be the relevant treaty when it comes to that sort of thing, no?
  2. Unless the UK can convince the other Commonwealth countries to team up with them in trade agreements with the EU, this also does not appear to me as something the UK can use to its advantage. And, just as an example, Canada just wrapped up a four-to-seven-year process (depending on how you count it) to finalize their trade treaty with the EU so I imagine they'd be loathe to risk all that to ensure a smooth Brexit.
  3. Isn't this actually leverage that the EU has against the UK? I thought the idea was that in the event of a hard Brexit, all these London-based offices would lose their access to a bunch of their European business and would simply pull up stakes and move to Paris or Brussels or Luxembourg or Dublin or wherever.
  4. I think this is an instance where the question "Well, what have you done for me lately?" would come up. Also, the answer to that question appears to be "Try to blow up that post-War order for apparently no good reason."
posted by mhum at 8:36 PM on March 20 [18 favorites]


The EU's primary objective at this point has to be to preserve the union, and that means making it unappealing for other countries to want to leave. I'd fully expect the UK to get offered a take-it-or-leave-it "hard exit" from the union, pour encourager les autres.

Ironically, Trump's win in the US probably made this more likely. I have little doubt that the US would have pressured the EU to go easy on the UK had someone who believed in the special relationship still been in charge. Trump is more likely to either just let the chips fall where they may or actively undermine the UK since the rest of the EU is a bigger trading partner than the UK alone.

If someone with sense were in charge, I'd expect there to be no public stance but much arm twisting behind the scenes to keep things amicable. Instead it seems like acrimony and retaliation will be happily allowed if the UK and EU choose to go that way.

Trump being Trump will probably give zero shits about the situation and focus on trying to get China to allow more imports from the US since China seems to be his bugbear.
posted by wierdo at 9:01 PM on March 20 [3 favorites]


Trump is more likely to either just let the chips fall where they may or actively undermine the UK since the rest of the EU is a bigger trading partner than the UK alone

Trump being Trump he will probably expend more energy trying to actively destroy the EU and weaken NATO to appease Putin.
posted by benzenedream at 10:40 PM on March 20 [6 favorites]


Financial Times: A sensible Brexit deal is more probable than you think (Go via Google to avoid registration):
The debate about Brexit is largely informed by confirmation bias. If you are a Brexiter, you are likely to ignore any information that leaving the EU would be bad for the economy, or that the negotiations are going to be fiendishly difficult. If you are a Remainer, you keep doubling down with exaggerated warnings about economic doom...

It would be reckless to predict that all will go smoothly. On the contrary; this will be as bitter and hard fought as any of the big battles of the past. What I do see, however, is that both sides have more to lose than to gain. This is a larger issue than the observation that the UK has relatively more to lose than the EU. That is trivially true, but not critical. Of far greater importance is that the UK is an integral part of the supply chains of the European car industry — especially now, after the sale of Vauxhall and Opel to Peugeot of France. The car industry will find a way to live with Brexit. But it cannot cope with sudden rupture...

So what about the ultimate argument — that the EU needs to punish the UK to set a disincentive for others to leave? This is complete piffle. I am unable to find a single country that would even come close. The country most isolated in the EU is Poland, but its electorate remains overwhelmingly in favour of EU membership. The Nordic countries may have lost their erstwhile enthusiasm for European integration, but none is anywhere near considering exit. Last week’s Dutch elections ended any fears, or hopes, of Nexit. A euro exit is another matter. But there is no queue of countries about to leave the EU...
posted by TheophileEscargot at 10:52 PM on March 20


What leverage does the UK have over the EU?

The EU and the UK are different things which can exercise power in different ways. The EU is first and foremost a common market. It has no tax collection agency, no police, no army, no border control, and little in the way of foreign policy, intelligence or propaganda. The EU can control access to the common market (to the extent that it is entirely dependent on the member states for enforcement), but the UK can exercise influence in many other ways as well, i.e. military, diplomatic, financial, and cultural, which affords all sorts of divide-and-conquer tactics, both within and without the EU (which Juncker has acknowledged). If we had a united EU with widespread support for (much needed) closer political, social and economic integration, we wouldn't have to worry about this, but Brexit is not some kind of anomaly -- France and the Netherlands (both founding members) rejected Lisbon in referendum and the EU is viewed unfavorably by >50% of people in countries like Spain, France and Italy. The EU is not as strong as it makes itself out to be.
posted by dmh at 10:54 PM on March 20


Brexit is not some kind of anomaly

OK, let me rephrase that: Brexit is a fucking catastrophe, yet perhaps not entirely unexpected.
posted by dmh at 11:01 PM on March 20


In short, if you're feeling bad, a quick trip to Dublin to talk to taxi drivers may be the single best anti-depressant of all time. As one told me, "We've finally figured out that we can use words and numbers instead of fists and guns to make a difference, I hope the rest of the world finds that out soon..."

There was never support for violence in Dublin. Dubliners just want to make money and be left out of other peoples' crusades, much as they always have wanted. But the general belief in Dublin that violence is stupid has zero affect on the factions in then North hating each others guts and being the way they are. I'm 100% on the Dublin side of this argument so it's not knocking them but don't think Dublin attitudes mean much if anything in Belfast or Derry because they don't.

And there is no way a united Ireland could absorb all the infrastructure in the North and maintain it at the same level as the UK has: motorways, universities, ferry services, NHS, etc. Not to mention all the haters and violence/ policing.That would be interesting if it happened. Maybe Belfast will become a super rich tax haven and solve everyone's problem but it's much more likely it'll descend into ridiculous infighting again.
posted by fshgrl at 11:03 PM on March 20 [3 favorites]


Theresa May to trigger Article 50 on 29th March
I think the Tories are planting the seeds of their own destruction here.

Next Wednesday millions of kids will be heartbroken, their grief mirrored by their parents and the TV will be flooded with images of Theresa May callously ending a long standing relationship ignorant of the pain it will cause.

As they grow they will slowly form an idea in their minds that the Tory party is the ultimate evil and will become as deeply committed to their destruction as Neu Bevan ever was.

That's right, The Tories closed down Club Penguin!
posted by fullerine at 12:24 AM on March 21 [3 favorites]


I don't think it's possible to understand Brexit without a critical view of EU institutions and policy.

Which there has not been, if by 'critical' you mean a nuanced evaluation of what the EU has done, good and bad, how it may have been done better and how it could be improved over time. Certainly, that narrative was no part of Brexit - because it would have to include the UK's role in the EU and its engagement and appetite for making the thing work. We never had a department for Europe, nor a minister thereof, and we never reconciled our post-imperalist hangovers with the need to go drinking in a different pub.

Which is OK, up to a point, because show me the European nation that doesn't have unresolved issues going back many lifetimes; expecting any relationship to cure your hang-ups is not in general a recipe for success. Being aware of how a relationship can be mutually beneficial through awareness of those lacunae and a mutual willingness to trade off the hardships of having two sets of personal issues with the benefits of having two sets of resources to deal with them, that's a different matter.

One of my many frustrations with Brexit is that, by all accounts, the UK was both willing and capable of being a very savvy and effective pro-EU operator within the institution. The people on the ground got all this. But successes were not seen as providing political capital back home, where conflict, antagonism and the perfidy of others were required. You can say the EU is undemocratic; why, then, downplay and marginalise the European elections and the role of MEPs, the fundamental elements of European democracy?

The EU certainly has systemic and specific flaws. To the list of those above, I'd add an inability to cohere on foreign policy, defence and key aspects of regulation, and an ability to spend freely on process rather than focus on goals witha willingness to be critical of itself when missing them. Which is rather to be expected of something that relies on turning a patchwork of cultures and languages into a coherent animal.

But what it is not, and what it has been mostly painted as by he Brexiters, is a cultural threat. France is no less French, Germany no less German, Sweden no less Swedish and England no less English (yes, I'm purposefully avoiding the whole Britian thing) than forty years ago, which is as far back as my experiences allow me to go with confidence. It depends how you define these things, of course, but I don't mind the reduction in overt bellicosity.

By all means, have a critical evaluation of Europe and our role in it, and if that shows it's hopelessly harmful to our national interests, then who'd want to carry on? Saying you want out and then casting about for reasons is just perverse.
posted by Devonian at 2:46 AM on March 21 [25 favorites]


One of my many frustrations with Brexit is that, by all accounts, the UK was both willing and capable of being a very savvy and effective pro-EU operator within the institution. The people on the ground got all this.

From personal experience, I know this to be very true. Whenever you were working in a pan-european setting, the British would be at the front and center of operations, working with the outmost professionalism.

But successes were not seen as providing political capital back home, where conflict, antagonism and the perfidy of others were required. You can say the EU is undemocratic; why, then, downplay and marginalise the European elections and the role of MEPs, the fundamental elements of European democracy?

For all the years of the EU (and before that the EC), it has been far too easy for national politicians to blame the EU for unpopular politics that they themselves had been part of creating. Because the media not only let them, but aided and abetted them. I've never once heard a reporter confront a minister who claimed he was blameless and helpless about some EU regulation that he himself had negotiated into place.

And not only that, I have witnessed close hand how local politicians and organizations willfully misinterpreted EU directives in order to serve their personal interests. Again, with no push-back from any media.

Clearly Boris Johnson is the embodiment not only of the neglect of the media, but of the glee and profiteering of the press who have brought on Brexit. But the same thing happens in most other EU countries.
posted by mumimor at 3:04 AM on March 21 [7 favorites]


I am prevented from commenting too freely about this issue given my own precarious immigration status here, but you may be certain that I shall not forget the individual and institutional actors responsible for getting us into this whole needless debacle. The 2016-2017 interval has so far seemed to me to be an extended exercise in the capricious destruction of systems that, while imperfect in many ways, did a decent job of upholding the basic tenets of human dignity, and will not be easily repaired, restored or replaced. On both sides of the Atlantic.
posted by adamgreenfield at 3:13 AM on March 21 [9 favorites]


Reminder that we have a good, recent Scottish Reaction to Brexit Thread where you can find answers to all your hot takes.

I had the peculiar experience of going micro-viral on Twitter over the weekend. I posted about being an EU migrant in a Brexiteer UK. I moved here because I fell in love with a boy and fell in love with my new home town of Glasgow too. This feels like home in a way that Copenhagen never did. I feel loved & welcome by my local community. I've built up a career and a business.

And then when I travel for work I see tabloids on the seats next to me. Tabloids that scream lies about migrants like me. People congratulate me on picking up English so well after just a decade in the UK. I hold two university degrees in English and speak six languages. Well-meaning people tell me that nothing's going to happen to me because I'm a 'good migrant'. Immigration laws are not a pick & mix booth.

Worst case scenario: I lose the love of my life, my home, my beloved job, my friends and my community. And for what reason? No one really knows.

ETA. I've dealt with over 700 comments over the weekend lending me well-meaning advice. Trust me, I've looked at this situation closely and it sucks.
posted by kariebookish at 3:36 AM on March 21 [32 favorites]


SLDailyMail: Tory fury as historic Brexit Act WON'T be printed for posterity on vellum because the centuries old tradition has been quietly DITCHED. "Mr Liddell-Grainger said of the Article 50 Act: 'It should be written on vellum. Because in a thousand years' time people will ask, 'what did they do in March 2017?'"
posted by effbot at 4:31 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


ETA. I've dealt with over 700 comments over the weekend lending me well-meaning advice. Trust me, I've looked at this situation closely and it sucks.

This is almost worse than the actual Brexit bastards. People who insist that there must be some way that things will work out fine for you specifically, because you're not the sort of rabble this whole vote was about, and I guess just world fallacy combined with an utter lack of understanding of immigration law or Tories? Like no, if you gave a shit, the time to speak up was years ago. Before this bullshit referendum, when our rights started getting stripped, when we started being made a scapegoat and political punching bag. But nobody said anything. Now people are oh so concerned, and going to march on Saturday (because yeah, a protest like two days before the actual Brexit date isn't a back-patting pointless sham of performance politics - you couldn't design a protest to achieve less, it's purely about peacocking liberal bona fides). Now people are looking into immigration law, seeing the insane bullshit (health insurance requirement, habitual residency tests that define many people living here as not habitually resident, etc, etc) and insisting that this can't be right, but you know what, it is, and you fucking watched it happen. The time for outrage was then, when this shit was going through parliament. But your concern isn't real. You didn't take us seriously when we told you what was happening. You didn't care. Not until the redtops started screaming about how you're taking your country back.

So no, don't tell me it'll be fine. It won't, because good people you didn't do anything, so evil prevailed. Don't tell me to marry my partner, because he doesn't earn enough that it'll help anything at all. Don't suggest I apply for ESA or JSA or housing benefit because I'm utterly ineligible, and don't you fucking dare act surprised at that. Don't ask me if I can't apply for citizenship after well over a decade, my entire adult life, because I can't, and your government's bullshit is why. You were told at the time. You don't remember because you didn't care. Now that you're a laughing stock and pariah in the rest of Europe, you're suddenly concerned. Well fuck you, it's too late now.
posted by Dysk at 5:15 AM on March 21 [22 favorites]


It wasn't quietly ditched. There was a whole thing about it last year.
The people that make a fuss did so and then we all moved on to using archival paper and no one cared because no one cares.

I really wish I could understand these people.
These people who care about Vellum over Archival Paper.
These people who care about what colour your passport is.

Not even the big things like Brexit or the medium things like Grammar schools, (Because I don't understand them either) the truly tiny irrelevancies which seem to bring such froth and fury. Do they? Do they actually care?
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 5:25 AM on March 21 [4 favorites]


Far-right millionaire: I'll use social media network to back Scottish independence. Like Bannon he wants to burn it all down.
Jim Dowson is a particularily nasty piece of shit whose Patriot News Agency heavily pushed a Pro Trump anti Clinton message to the Americans.
According to Anti-racist organisation Hope Not Hate said: “Dowson has become a major player in social media, using his ‘hub’ in Budapest to spew out hatred right around the world. His proposed intervention in Scotland has nothing to do with independence, but with everything to do with the lust for bigotry and making another of his former places of residence a battleground for hatred.”
posted by adamvasco at 5:31 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]




Do they? Do they actually care?

Nope, they don't give a shit. Countryfile had a bit on fruit pickers and Brexit last Sunday, basically about how disastrous its going to be without seasonal migration.

Brexiteers whined on about the BBC's pro-EU propaganda, of course, but the genuine suggestion made by many of them was that students could do it instead. Nevermind that the student holidays are about two months long at most and picking season is much longer, or the realities of having to compete with other job markets with much better prospects, or the absolutely dismal rate of pay (and I know for a personal fact that there are plenty of farms who don't pay NMW, let alone living wage). Nah, students will do it because that's what used to happen in the old days. Allegedly. [I did two years of fruit picking and packing. It's absolute shit work and the idea that students will opt for it is laughable.]
posted by threetwentytwo at 6:05 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


Anecdata to Dowson: friend of friend used to live next to him and is having trouble understanding what's going on as Dowson was always "an impoverished [redacted] (who) became a 'minister' online, joined Britain First and suddenly wealthy - something stinks".

Well then.
posted by kariebookish at 6:26 AM on March 21 [2 favorites]


Nah, students will do it because that's what used to happen in the old days.
Pre-EU, my mother did indeed pick fruit in the university holidays. She and her friend were the only students in the workforce. Every single other person was working while claiming unemployment. The entirety of the county's farms basically shut down on a Thursday (I think it was a Thursday) so the seasonal agricultural workforce could sign on. As far as I can tell this how it was for the whole of the 60s and into the 70s.

Now, whether you personally think this is a better or worse situation than the current one is rather moot, as I will bet you a tenner there's a near-complete overlap between "pro-Brexit" and "believes benefit cheats should be strung up from the nearest lamppost".
posted by Vortisaur at 7:33 AM on March 21 [4 favorites]


People who insist that there must be some way that things will work out fine for you specifically, because you're not the sort of rabble this whole vote was about, and I guess just world fallacy combined with an utter lack of understanding of immigration law or Tories?

This is something I just don't understand. My parents, who are heading into their 80s, have been staunch pro-EU liberals (small l always, big L sometimes) for their whole lives and quite fervent anti-Tories, are now Brexiters. Before the referendum, I was astonished to learn this and set about trying to find out why. Among the many things I brought up was the situation of my EU-but-not-UK citizien UK resident friends, several of whom fit the template of having lived here most of their lives, married, had children, made careers, etc - in truth, making a better fist of their time on this sceptred isle than I.

And I got that exact response - oh, don't worry, they'll be looked after, nobody wants to see them suffer.

I pointed out that recent changes in immigration law - which, of course, my parents didn't know about, because why would you if you weren't affected? - made it clear that the Tories were not only capable of throwing people out in almost exactly those circumstances, they were doing this in significant numbers for non-EU residents and for really bad reasons. The only difference was that EU citizenship conferred right of residence: that gone, why wouldn't the Tories boot out everyone they could? I provided evidence both personal and online (both of which, sadly, I have far too much).

And my parents closed down. As they did with everything i came up with - it caused one of the worst family rows in my memory, and now we don't talk politics.

The only thing I can think of that's done this is that they read the Sun (ostensibly for the racing and the telly) and the constant exposure of Farage et al on the TV; they don't have much news consumption beyond that. But the cult programming has been precise - "Europe has too much control", and anything against that is practically traitorous to contemplate. In other respects, they're still the same liberal, socially-concerned and lovable-if-waspish couple I've always known (my father still does a lot of community stuff, supporting foodbanks and doing quirky volunteer things that get in the local rag), but in this regard - there's no reaching them.

I am hugely saddened by this.

I have added it to my accounts in the 'pointless misery caused by the evil fuckers' ledger, and I collect the interest on it when I'm tempted to despair, by way of firing up the anger and feeding on the flames.
posted by Devonian at 8:01 AM on March 21 [24 favorites]


My impression is that 70s unemployment benefit was much, much easier to get than it is today; it was effectively a guaranteed basic income in some ways.

(Years ago I remember reading the tale of a bunch of Japanese rock climbers visiting the UK in the late 70s & being very jealous of the way the British climbers could simply sign on & then spend their time rock climbing. I don’t think that would be possible today.)
posted by pharm at 8:05 AM on March 21 [3 favorites]


Can someone point to an article that summarizes the money trail behind Brexit? I assume Murdoch was spreading all the media lies, but was Putin as involved as he seems to be in the US election?
posted by benzenedream at 8:08 AM on March 21


It’s nothing more than the faintest whiff of a potential smoking gun but I did note in passing that Dominic Cummings’ (he of Vote Leave fame) CV states that he spent the years immediately after graduating in Russia before coming back to the UK & eventually becoming Gove’s spad. Make of that what you will!
posted by pharm at 8:11 AM on March 21


was Putin as involved as he seems to be in the US election?

Good question! But who would investigate that?
posted by mumimor at 8:11 AM on March 21


Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, suggested one of the reasons Vladimir Putin's Russia had wanted to encourage Mr Trump's candidacy was because the billionaire was in favour of Brexit.

Mr Schiff said: "Would they like to encourage candidates in favour of Brexit? Would they like to see more Brexits?"

Mr Comey replied: "Yes."

posted by vacapinta at 8:14 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


And here are Dowson and pals in St Petersburg.

Where do they get their money from? I'm at a loss. But if anyone wants to start up the Putin Stooge Awards, I'll be happy to subscribe to your newsletter. (St Ooge is, of course, the Russian patron saint of puppetry. [fake])
posted by Devonian at 8:34 AM on March 21 [2 favorites]


there's no reaching them / I am hugely saddened by this.

I feel your pain. And at the same time, I understand their intransigence. My own pro-Remain conviction is deeply held and totally unshakeable. There's no reasoning me out of it.

I think this whole campaign has been fought on purely emotional battle lines. Unfortunately, only Team Leave really understood this and mobilised its forces accordingly. Team Remain's strategy and tactics were so ineffective that they squandered what could have been an easy win.

Now, I'm afraid, nobody in Britain stands to win anything much. I have no confidence that the negotiations will do anything other than limit the damage my country is determined to do to itself, but I'd be delighted to be proven wrong on this point.
posted by ZipRibbons at 8:46 AM on March 21 [1 favorite]


Per new polls, there seems to be little appetite for - and much wariness about - hard Brexit. The article notes, I believe correctly, that in the absence of any effective opposition in England, May will ignore public opinion in favour of the same Tory electoral calculus that led to Cameron calling the referendum in the first place. Perhaps she didn't notice how that ended for him.
posted by Devonian at 10:18 AM on March 21 [3 favorites]








dmh: "but the UK can exercise influence in many other ways as well, i.e. military, diplomatic, financial, and cultural, which affords all sorts of divide-and-conquer tactics, both within and without the EU (which Juncker has acknowledged)"

This is an interesting perspective that I had not fully considered. Since Article 50 has never been triggered, we won't know for sure until negotiations start, but I can't help but wonder if the structure of the negotiations might not actually favor divide-and-conquer tactics. The fact that the end agreement needs to be with the EU bloc as a whole may limit some of the ways that different EU countries can be pitted against one another (e.g.: I don't believe the UK could have a tariff scheme that treated French automakers differently than German automakers, but maybe they could do something more indirect like favor winemakers over automakers generally). Also, with the automatic two-year countdown that can only be extended by unanimous agreement among all the countries, this might also prove problematic if too many divisions are sown among the EU members (i.e.: to the point where insufficient consensus can be found and the clock simply runs down). Finally, we come to the question of competence. In order to exploit these divisions (particularly under the structure of an umbrella, EU-wide agreement), I am assuming that you would need at least fairly competent trade specialists. Given that neither the Cabinet Office nor the DExEu know even how many negotiators they have on staff, I wonder exactly how prepared and skilled the UK delegation will be.
posted by mhum at 2:07 PM on March 21 [1 favorite]


> "Cabinet Office says tonight that ministers were 'exploring options to preserve the use of vellum.'"

Fuck everything.
posted by kyrademon at 4:07 PM on March 21 [1 favorite]


When I saw all the Union Jacks with people for Brexit, I thought: y'all are going to lose the blue, you realize that, right?

I hope the media is better there than it is here and people can properly assess blame for the coming pain. Here it'll be: Dems say 25 million lost healthcare because of Ryan bill. GOP claims it's Obama's fault. Opinions differ.

On the other hand, it is the land of rags like the S*n. Still, I hope!
posted by persona au gratin at 4:29 PM on March 21 [1 favorite]


amazed that many people in the UK are willingly giving up their right to live and work in 27 other nations

Ah. I'm distressed that it's happening, and having made use of that right myself was my biggest reason for voting Remain - but I can offer one explanation for the ease with which people are making that choice.

Here's how mainstream language teaching has looked, in England at least, for much of the last few decades:

Beginning on entry to secondary school, we study some French, maybe German, *maybe* Spanish or Italian. Languages have typically been compulsory for 11-14-year-olds, with perhaps as much as 3 hours' tuition per language per week. At 14 we choose a reasonable range of subjects to continue studying, which may well include (may even be required to include) a modern foreign language. But at 16, if we stay on at school, we specialise down to three or four subjects; at this point, people who want to study maths and sciences generally have no choice but to drop languages, and lots of people who prefer the humanities choose to do so. At university, it's one degree subject, maybe two, *maybe* with access to a language course on the side; on the whole, if you're studying a language at an advanced level post-18 it's because you are Studying Languages. I found it eye-opening (and quite mortifying) to realise that elsewhere in Europe, facility with languages is part and parcel of being an educated person, not a rare talent seen only in the few.

So an awful lot of adults in the UK have no language skills beyond dimly remembered school French. And we know full well that "Excusez-moi, Monsieur, où est la bibliothèque, s'il vous plaît?" is not really going to cut it in the world of employment. Which means it's very understandable if people think, well, those 27 other nations - the vast majority don't actually seem very accessible as live-work destinations, because who would employ someone who can't speak the language?
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 5:27 PM on March 21 [3 favorites]


I can't help but wonder if the structure of the negotiations might not actually favor divide-and-conquer tactics. The fact that the end agreement needs to be with the EU bloc as a whole may limit some of the ways that different EU countries can be pitted against one another

To be clear, and in recognition of your earlier points, I agree that the UK cannot "win" a trade war with the EU. Even so, punitive terms for the UK will also directly impact vital member states: 10% of UK exports go to Germany, while France is the number 1 exporter to the UK (by a large margin) and Germany is the 3rd largest exporter to the UK. It's unclear to me how the EU can safeguard the common good against the interests of the UK, Germany and France, given that virtually all of the EU executive power ultimately devolves to the member states and public support for the European project is uneven.
posted by dmh at 5:29 PM on March 21


It's not like there won't be any exports to the UK or imports from the UK, it's that there will be barriers. For some industries, such as the auto industry, that will be a huge problem. But at the end of the day, the solutions to that problem will harm the UK far more than it will harm any country in the EU. For other industries such as food and drink, Asian markets are growing fast, and I expect the EU take will be that the UK must pay market prices or find their products somewhere else. However this is solved, the consumers will bear the brunt, in the form of higher prices. Look at this year's vegetable crisis, which has nothing to do with Brexit. Not a problem for the rich, but for the middle class and down, this will be felt.
Add to that the decrease in tax revenue from EU-citizens and bankers who are forced to move, and obviously the shortage of NHS personnel which has already begun, I can't really see what the Brexit plan is.
posted by mumimor at 5:43 PM on March 21 [1 favorite]


I think the Brexit plan is that the Tories do quite well electorally when there is obvious pain and suffering around, because those in suffering are too broken in spirit to engage politically, and those in the precariat are seduced by the idea of self-discipline (i.e. reducing the state safety net) solving all problems. And obviously, even that level of reflection and assessment of motives is beyond them. It's parochialism all the way.

For what it's worth, I've had the heartbreaking arguments with parents that Devonian's had, with exactly the same inconsistency with how I was brought up. And it appears to come from a dim awareness that the future is not good, and happily accepting the scapegoat that has been made for them over the past 40 years.

I think that the issue with the vellum is incredibly telling. And it'll probably change my accelerationist anarchist vegan colleague against the process, which will make me feel better.
posted by ambrosen at 7:12 PM on March 21 [2 favorites]


I think putting laws on vellum is the only issue that both Brexiters and I would support.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:38 PM on March 21 [1 favorite]


Which means it's very understandable if people think, well, those 27 other nations - the vast majority don't actually seem very accessible as live-work destinations, because who would employ someone who can't speak the language?

As it turns out, lots of people and companies do exactly that (outside of the UK)!
posted by Dysk at 8:03 PM on March 21 [3 favorites]




The "Brits cannot speak any other languages!" argument doesn't take into account that many EU-based corporations use English as their internal language of choice. I used to teach Business English in Copenhagen. We are talking everything from energy companies, pharmaceutical companies and banks to advertising agencies, IT companies and architectural practices. And if you prefer to pull pints, Irish and Scottish pubs are everywhere.

This reluctance to travel beyond a beach holiday is something I've been thinking about a lot lately.
posted by kariebookish at 3:00 AM on March 22 [2 favorites]




Which means it's very understandable if people think, well, those 27 other nations - the vast majority don't actually seem very accessible as live-work destinations, because who would employ someone who can't speak the language?

Just off the top of my head, I know people who've DJ'd/ holiday repped/bar worked, ski school instructors, IT people who've worked in Amsterdam and Spain, teachers in France, social media consultants in Germany. These are people from the same small shitty rural county I'm originally from, none of who had more than a GCSE in languages when they went.

I think the answer is far more to do with the belief of some that the British are expats, never immigrants, as stated in that Guardian video linked upthread. They don't believe that any European nation isnt actually going to welcome British people at the same time we're telling their immigrants to fuck off.
posted by threetwentytwo at 3:29 AM on March 22 [2 favorites]


The "Brits cannot speak any other languages!" argument doesn't take into account that many EU-based corporations use English as their internal language of choice.

This to me is one of the reasons the Brits are so isolated. Most educated people on the Continent can speak some English (as well as other languages). The English cannot speak any other language. This creates a one-way mirror where the Continent can overhear the political conversation in Westminster and read newspapers and even listen to BBC radio. But Brits have no idea what is going on in the continent because they have to have it translated for them. This translator often turns out to be the Guardian or the Daily Mail which translates and also tells them what to think about it.

Add to this the fact that it is more common in Europe for educated people to speak multiple languages and you have a Europe that is more culturally united among itself. England remains a monoculture.

This also has economic consequences. If Europeans speak English then English-speaking becomes less of a marketable talent. The German bank who needs to communicate with American clients is just as likely to find a German english-speaker than an English person to fill the role. This makes it smoother for services to move out of London and into Europe. And thus, is paradoxically a drawback to English being the common language.
posted by vacapinta at 4:15 AM on March 22 [9 favorites]


This translator often turns out to be the Guardian or the Daily Mail which translates and also tells them what to think about it.

This isn't strictly accurate. The UK press is indeed in the business of telling people what to think about the EU, but it's not really in the business of translating (or reporting) any actual goings-on. Far easier to just invent something and declare that "you couldn't make it up!!"
posted by Dysk at 5:57 AM on March 22


The English cannot speak any other language.

This — bizarrely — is often worn as a badge of pride.

Somehow the idea that "I'm not going to even try to communicate with you unless you do it on my terms" feels like the mark of a strong, confident person.

It makes me think of the sad British holidaymaker I saw on a documentary once. They filmed him in his hotel room as he phoned reception to ask for an iron and ironing board.

All he wanted to do was get his shirt ironed, but somehow it didn't occur to him to simply take his crumpled laundry downstairs and show them what his problem was. No language necessary! Just point at the shirt and mime.

Instead — unable to conceive of any alternative method of communication — he stayed in his room, speaking ever slower and louder into the phone:
"I need an ironing board!"
"No, ironing!"
"Ironing! Board!"
"NO! Iron! — Ironing! Ironing board!"
<Exasperated sigh>
"I! ON! ING!"
"I-ON-ING!"
...
Fade to black.
posted by ZipRibbons at 9:24 AM on March 22 [2 favorites]


Ah, the number of times I have mimed ironing in hotel reception areas. Ironing as a word does strike me as having fairly odd inflection for an English word, and it seems to be a word that is much less rarely understood than the norm in hotels across Europe, in my experience.

(It wasn't me in that documentary I somehow feel obliged to say.)
posted by biffa at 4:34 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]


Tintin and the Brexit Plan.

It turns out that this image's origins are as a poster hanging in the European Council’s Brexit task force meeting room.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:43 AM on March 23 [2 favorites]


That article doesn't say the poster on the EC wall was the origin, just that there was an example of it there.
posted by biffa at 7:55 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]


Yes, I jumped the gun a bit on that image attribution - the EC's poster seems to originate with this tweet back in late January as far as I can determine with Google. Nonetheless, Belgium's most popular hero does rather sum up the mood in Brussels.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:58 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]


The governing board of Lloyd's of London, the world's largest insurance market, is to approve the establishment of a new base in Europe on the same day that Theresa May triggers the Brexit process.
posted by adamvasco at 11:05 AM on March 24


Brexit: are you angry yet? [Long, comprehensive, compelling, and depressing as hell.]
posted by rory at 7:40 AM on March 28 [3 favorites]


Not content with having tee'd up IndyRef2 for Scotland, the Conservative government - officially the Conservative and Unionist Party - have signalled they'd be fine with a Northern Irish one, too. As they've shown no interest in paying for the EU-financed Good Friday Agreement in a post-Brexit scenario, this is hardly surprising...
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:55 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]




And during that, the Scottish Labour Party MSPs voted against allowing EU nationals to vote in Indyref2 - international socialism at its finest, comrades! (It didn't matter, because Scottish Labour has the influence of an empty tin of Irn Bru - that vote passed as well, so yay.)
posted by Devonian at 10:42 AM on March 28


Brexit: are you angry yet?

Of course I bloody well am! What a stupid question! Thankfully, however, although my MP was brought back to the party line (sex/consent scandal as front page splash of The Sun), it's pretty clear that he did not get into politics to make a giant mess of the country. So I interact with him on Twitter very politely, but with the intention of making him feel pretty stupid. I can't imagine him standing down, and he's about 30 years old, but I will do my bit to make him less zealous in his Toryism.
posted by ambrosen at 11:34 AM on March 28




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