Not With a Bong But With a Whimper
January 31, 2020 3:40 AM   Subscribe

Tonight, at midnight Brussels time, or 11pm UK time, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland formally leaves the European Union, entering a transition period of eleven months in which little will change in most people's everyday lives, yet momentous changes will continue to take shape. The UK government is seeking to downplay the looming impact of 1 January 2021 by calling today the day they "Got Brexit Done", mentioning transition as little as possible, and hoping that most voters will assume that Project Fear has been disproven and that anything that happens in 2021 is all the EU's fault. But at least half of the UK knows otherwise, and parts of it are already making other plans.

Chris Grey provides an excellent reflection on the day and what led us here. Rafael Behr relates what having a heart attack taught him about Brexit. Tom Whyman attributes Brexit to the "where's my elephant?” theory of history. Ian Dunt contemplates the long game for Remainers, though perhaps not long enough.

Brexiters, meanwhile, having failed to bung enough bobs for a Big Ben bong*, console themselves with dreams of destroying the EU itself, glorifying their spiritual leader, and farting in Europe's general direction.

Brexit has already cost Britain more than all the money it has paid into the EU over 47 years. With no deal on 1/1/21 still a distinct possibility, we've barely scratched the surface. The UK is "a woollen country about to be accidentally put in a hot wash".

This is the way the world ends.

*Big Ben has been under repair, and getting it fixed in time would have meant that "the bongs cost £500,000… but we’re working up a plan so that people can bung a bob for a Big Ben bong." A "bob" = one shilling = five "new" pence (for over-65s values of "new"). The government were apparently working up a plan for ten million people to donate 5p each to ring a bell once.
posted by rory (167 comments total) 55 users marked this as a favorite
 
I feel proud that, as a staunch Remainer, I did what I could post-referendum: went to all the London marches, sent postcards to MPs, argued with many (especially Lexiteers) about the perils that lay ahead. Maybe I could have done more, but I don't believe I'm in any way powerful enough to have changed the result today.

Still, I can hold my head high as we pass into this next phase; I fervently hope that it isn't as bad as it appears it may be. Either way, we can't but move forward and continue to fight.

Keep the light on for us, Europe. Au revoir, not adieu.
posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs at 3:53 AM on January 31 [74 favorites]


ooh, and for good measure: FUCK BORIS
posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs at 3:55 AM on January 31 [79 favorites]


I’ve been quite touched by the outpouring of love & regard from EU institutions (& the people thereof) for the UK.

The maturity with which the EU as approached Brexit has put some in the UK to shame, not that they really care. The Brexiteers will have their celebration tonight & they earned it, whatever some of us may think of the outcome.

Of course "Brexit" the project will not be going away - it will just become the background noise of the UK for the next decade as the consequences roll out for good & ill.
posted by pharm at 4:04 AM on January 31 [8 favorites]


.
posted by Mister Bijou at 4:09 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


The EU flag will continue to fly over Holyrood in Scotland! Perhaps one day, at least part of the UK will rejoin...
posted by adrianhon at 4:15 AM on January 31 [11 favorites]


Already, some people are talking about the inevitability of Britain someday rejoining the EU, perhaps sooner than we think, forced into it by self-inflicted circumstance.

As much as I'd like that, and would relish Britain being forced to join Schengen, adopt the Euro and switch to sensible electrical plugs, I think this is unlikely in at least 20 years, probably 30 or more. If Britain does suffer economic and political shock, the EU, whilst it's the closest, is the last place it would seek help. Any other outcome, from becoming a Puerto Rico-style protectorate of the US (under the sort of predatory terms one would expect from the Trump kleptocracy) to joining the (Moscow-based) Eurasian Union (free trade with huge countries like Russia and Kazakhstan and no politically-correct human-rights regulations to annoy the Daily Mail readers), or just doubling down and transitioning to a Juche-style ideology of isolationism and extreme xenophobia even as its people starve, would be more politically plausible than Britain going to Brussels with a handful of petrol-station roses, begging to be readmitted.
posted by acb at 4:21 AM on January 31 [16 favorites]


Today is a really shitty day.
posted by kyrademon at 4:24 AM on January 31 [31 favorites]


...switch to sensible electrical plugs...

To indulge in a momentary patriotic derail, UK>EU plugs. Love that chunky fused 3-pronger; those round European ones are always falling out of the wall when I visit.

posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs at 4:28 AM on January 31 [20 favorites]


As an Englishman who moved to Europe, I have to say that the sensible nature of EU plugs is just so much better. And they are much less painful to stand on. Perhaps they are a useful metaphor for Brexit: they were designed by some British person because they thought it would be better than the rest of the world, but actually they are incredibly awkward, isolating, and accidentally painful.
posted by The River Ivel at 4:38 AM on January 31 [9 favorites]


I remember when Poland joined the EU, drinking a vodka with a Polish friend in England. I toasted "Welcome to Europe!", and he responded "We were always here". Now that the UK is pursuing a course of isolation, I think it's good to remember that whatever the unnecessary political and trade barriers, we're still here. We're not going anywhere.

Bad day for the UK, bad day for the EU. But we're still here. Leave a light on.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 4:39 AM on January 31 [18 favorites]


The UK's plugs take up far too much space (partly because they skimped on building wiring regulations, requiring each plug to have its own 13-amp fuse), have no compact unearthed option (which was fine when most devices were heavy electrical devices needing earthing, but not so much in the electronic age), and, being wilfully incompatible with anywhere except for most of the former British Empire, have a whiff of gammon about them.

The pragmatic approach would be to adopt Schuko, for compatibility with much of Eurasia (and indeed almost all of it in the case of 2-pin variants). If compatibility is not a requirement but neither is Brtexiteer nostalgia, there was a new international plug standard published a decade or two ago, that looks like the European one only slightly smaller due to advances in material sciences. At the moment, only Brazil uses them domestically.
posted by acb at 4:39 AM on January 31 [9 favorites]


Because obviously that's the most important issue here.
posted by Grangousier at 4:42 AM on January 31 [26 favorites]


What else is there to discuss? The terrible thing is happening, but there is no meaningful news here. It's just a pointless symbolic moment. Stuff will only be happening gradually over the next 11 months (in terms of negotiations) and won't take effect until next year. All that's left to do at this occasion is jaw about whatever old sawhorses. There's nothing new to be said that hasn't already been gone over in detail several times over the last four years.
posted by Dysk at 4:57 AM on January 31 [28 favorites]


(On which note, I vote for EU style plugs, but mounted upside down. You want the earth pin at the top so that a not-quite flush plug won't catch eg a dropped paperclip across the live and neutral pins, shorting them.)
posted by Dysk at 5:01 AM on January 31 [7 favorites]


"the bongs cost £500,000… but we’re working up a plan so that people can bung a bob for a Big Ben bong."

That would have been insufficiently Brexity. It would be more appropriate to make the vanquished pay for it, by slapping a levy on European nationals in the UK, increasing the VAT on foreign food/cultural products, levying extra council tax on areas that voted mostly Remain, or something with a similarly ugly pub-bore triumphalism about it.
posted by acb at 5:01 AM on January 31 [8 favorites]


What happens with the various agreements that other countries have made with the EU? Will they still apply to the UK for the duration of the transitional period?
posted by swr at 5:02 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


For weeks now I've had
"Big Ben bong for brexit" stuck in my head like some reactionary earworm and it's frankly inconsiderate of them to not get things in order in time for a proper bonging. I've been driving my wife insane with this phrase and I think she at the very least deserves it. Shame
posted by dis_integration at 5:06 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


Led by Donkeys is projecting a message to Europe on the White Cliffs of Dover (turn your sound on and ignore the replies).
posted by um at 5:07 AM on January 31 [26 favorites]


.
posted by lalochezia at 5:17 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


Austria has released a new stamp to commemorate Brexit. Tom Moylan adds a "Fun fact: The crossed out date was not intentional - Österreich Post had thousands made for the original date and when it changed they decided not to waste them." (link to tweet showing new stamp.)
posted by scorbet at 5:21 AM on January 31 [11 favorites]


Congratulations, UK, YOU'VE FINALLY DONE IT
posted by lalochezia at 5:22 AM on January 31 [22 favorites]


What else is there to discuss?

Well, I couldn't let the day go unmarked after all the threads we've spent on it. And there are things we should pay attention to, like the emerging Brexiter narrative that today will prove that all the predictions of Brexit chaos were unfounded. There are enormous efforts underway to move the goalposts and to keep moving them, so that Brexiters control the narrative. If we give up on our own narrative, they don't only win this victory, they win again and again.

As David Allen Green has pointed out in recent weeks, tonight's departure discharges the mandate of the 2016 referendum, which changes the politics significantly.
posted by rory at 5:25 AM on January 31 [20 favorites]


There's a lot of people I've seen saying Brexiters will have to own any problems that arise from now on but they'll never do that. A big feature of the nationalism narrative is that you just keep blaming the usual minorities and "traitors" and slide further and further right. We need a robust opposition to the far right and the people who enable them, because there's going to be a lot more Laurence Foxes.

There are enormous efforts underway to move the goalposts and to keep moving them, so that Brexiters control the narrative. If we give up on our own narrative, they don't only win this victory, they win again and again.

Exactly, this is just the first step
posted by Chaffinch at 5:29 AM on January 31 [25 favorites]




When things inevitably go balls-up, the Brexiters won't own it. If Johnson ends up owning it, he will by then have been recast as a traitorous Islington cosmopolitanist trying to undermine the Will Of The People. The Dolchstoßlegend will be brought out: we would have had a glorious Brexit and would be enjoying the sunlit uplands of boundless free trade, no more political correctness/health-and-safety/human-rights and £350 trillion per nanosecond extra on the NHS, only the liberal globalist remoaners sabotaged it. When the 2024 election rolls around, the Conservative Party's posters will feature black-and-white photographs of Remainer celebrities, as well as bogeypeople like Nicola Sturgeon, Greta Thunberg and George Soros (the last possibly photoshopped to look more like a 1900s anti-Semitic caricature), captioned with “THEY STOLE OUR BREXIT”. The slogan will be “MAKE THE TRAITORS PAY. VOTE CONSERVATIVE.”
posted by acb at 5:40 AM on January 31 [19 favorites]


What else is there to discuss?

There are also those of us in Europe who, starting this weekend, have to sort out how and under what conditions our host country will allow us to stay. Paperwork, bureaucracy starts now. EU citizens in the UK too have lost their freedom of movement rights, held aloft only temporarily by an agreement.

It seems enormously significant that after this weekend the UK cannot unilaterally pull Article 50. It is outside the EU with only a free 11 month hall pass. It seems enormously significant that the UK will now abide by EU rules and pay into the EU but has absolutely no representation.

All this jabber about destroying the EU is ridiculous and makes no tactical sense. The most effective way to destroy the EU was to be in it, disrupt the parliament, exercise veto power, build coalitions with other euro-skeptic parties. Outside, you are just a loony crying in the wilderness.
posted by vacapinta at 5:41 AM on January 31 [49 favorites]


I have to say that the sensible nature of EU plugs is just so much better. And they are much less painful to stand on.

So we could all rewire the country or you could stop standing on them.
posted by biffa at 5:47 AM on January 31 [11 favorites]


The most effective way to destroy the EU was to be in it, disrupt the parliament, exercise veto power, build coalitions with other euro-skeptic parties.

Appropriate Yes Minister
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:50 AM on January 31 [8 favorites]


Fucken-A, the world keeps moving toward self immolation, as certain as the day is long
posted by growabrain at 5:51 AM on January 31 [6 favorites]


EU citizens in the UK too have lost their freedom of movement rights, held aloft only temporarily by an agreement.

I know, I'm one of them. But what changes doesn't change today. The situation now isn't really any different to what it was yesterday. What happens now will happen over the next 11 months. There's nothing new today, no new revelations about a future relationship, about how rights will be treated going forward, etc, etc.

That's not to say that this thread is pointless. It isn't, it's important to mark the symbolic occasions, even if they are fundamentally pointless. I just object to the notion that discussing plug socket standards is somehow a distraction from the real important conversations. There is no new data today. The real important discussions have already happened, or concern information that hasn't come to light yet, and so can't yet happen. Rehashing plug sockets is no more a distraction than anything we can rehash in this thread today.
posted by Dysk at 5:52 AM on January 31 [16 favorites]


the bongs cost £500,000…

I know what with our legalized cannabis here in Canada that our prices would be out of sync with those of other countries, but I had no idea the difference was this dramatic.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:55 AM on January 31 [43 favorites]


To be fair, most of the arguments for leaving the EU have been about sillier things than plug standards.

Maybe we could stimulate employment in electrical services by refitting all UK households with a new type of socket. And then sell adapters for all of the appliances that no longer fit.
posted by pipeski at 5:57 AM on January 31 [5 favorites]


That David Allen Green article I alluded to above: The discharge of the mandate – the real significance of Brexit Day, 31st January 2020.
posted by rory at 6:01 AM on January 31


Feels appropriate that today it was announced there are confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK
posted by Chaffinch at 6:01 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


I'm so sorry, y'all. This is a bad day.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:01 AM on January 31 [20 favorites]


Every one of those commemorative 50p Brexit coins I come across is getting tossed in the fucking Thames.
posted by slimepuppy at 6:12 AM on January 31 [11 favorites]


Just going to recycle and embellish my comment from the Fucking Fuck thread on MetaTalk:

I've been invited out for after-work drinks tonight by some coworkers to celebrate the end of Eternal January and getting paid. (We're a last-day-of-the-month place.) I'm going to go, because they're nice people and I like them.

In the back of my mind, however, is the possibility of having a few too many and running into celebrating, jeering Brexiters. I'm really, really hoping I don't wind up doing something that gets me deported.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:16 AM on January 31 [8 favorites]


"the bongs cost £500,000… but we’re working up a plan so that people can bung a bob for a Big Ben bong."

Those were not the bongs I was imagining when I read the post's title.

I'm sorry to see this actually happen. It was obviously foolishly optimistic of me, but I really thought right up to the last minute that someone would find a way to pause the process in some way because of what seem like such clearly negative outcomes.

My sympathies for everyone here who is experiencing this personally.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:21 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


Boris Johnson To Set In Motion Plan That BBC Says Will Blow A $260M Hole In Its Content Budget (Jane Kanter, Deadline)
After weeks of UK government press briefings dripping poison on the BBC’s funding model, Boris Johnson appears ready to push ahead with plans that could weaken the corporation’s ability to collect its licence fee revenue. It means one of the prime minister’s first domestic policies since winning a thumping majority in last year’s general election is effectively a declaration of war on the BBC.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:28 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


5p for the old guy.
posted by clavdivs at 6:31 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


One of the things about BS-1363 plugs (still also the standard in 3 other EU countries) is that they were a good engineering solution to the issue at hand. And that they were developed well before there was the global capacity to cooperate on standards (they pre-date the shipping container, in case you need a reference for how restricted trade in goods was at the time).

But they're also part of the post-war rebuilding of Britain, and a symptom of how the country ended up feeling like it was self-reliant. Because there were all these government research institutes spread out around the English home counties, and smart diligent men (sic) did good work engineering a new set of standards for the post-war world. It worked: The UK was a country with good manufacturing standards and quality of life in these small & medium sized towns on the South Downs or The Chilterns was good.

As the world globalised, there became less need for the UK to do this kind of thing, and gradually those research institutes became less necessary and people had to work harder for things. Around this time, the UK joined the EU, and had to collaborate on standards again, with some loss of prestige for the privileged.

I haven't fleshed out this theory, but I suspect that it does account for some of the Europhobia of the wealthy home counties. And why the resentment was allowed to fester.
posted by ambrosen at 6:32 AM on January 31 [8 favorites]


how to mute plugchat
posted by Chaffinch at 6:38 AM on January 31 [25 favorites]


I hate this. I hope it fucking rains on their disgusting gloatfest tonight. That’s what I am reduced to; wishing minor discomfort on xenophobic tossers.
posted by skybluepink at 6:41 AM on January 31 [13 favorites]


Brexit, along with the rise of Trump, Duterte, Putin, Bolsonaro and Edrogan, are all indicative of a global shift towards hard-right populism which will have (is having!) a deleterious impact on the world as a whole, from the environment to economic health to the outbreak of global military conflicts. I wish I could feel that we are not all completely fucked, but I am unable to wish that feeling away. I hope I am wrong.

I also hope that Nigel Farage's stupid fucking bobblehead just pops off one day.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:43 AM on January 31 [23 favorites]


...and then I remember the utter misery of rough sleepers, and I can’t really wish for crappy weather.
posted by skybluepink at 6:43 AM on January 31 [9 favorites]


Ohhhh, that kind of "bong", I'm so bad with allusions.....
posted by sammyo at 7:01 AM on January 31


Ohhhh, that kind of "bong", I'm so bad with allusions.....

Sorry, I was going to title it "Not With a Bang But With a Whimper" so it directly quoted T. S. Eliot, but then the connection to the closing footnote occurred to me, and I couldn't resist the pun. If you say "bong" to a UK politics junkie in January 2020 it suggests the sound that Big Ben makes, but I appreciate that not all of us are.
posted by rory at 7:05 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


Every one of those commemorative 50p Brexit coins I come across is getting tossed in the fucking Thames.

There is a long and storied (if arguably illegal) tradition of defacing currency with political messages.

The easiest and quickest way of détourning a Brexit 50p may be with a hammer and punch or a Dremel tool: make 12 holes equally spaced around the circumference. Presto: instant EU logo.
posted by acb at 7:08 AM on January 31 [26 favorites]


So yesterday I found out that a two-month freelance project due to start in a week's time - money I that had been counting on - has had its funding frozen. Don't call us, we'll call you.

The discussions in the industry Slack channels that I participate in is all about the lack of contract roles being advertised. Usually this is the busiest time of the year.

Change is here. Projects are grinding to a halt. Funding is being pulled.

I wish I had something pithy to say about this situation. But it's all been said many, many times over.

We fucking told them so. That's about all I have today.
posted by doornoise at 7:09 AM on January 31 [29 favorites]


Brexit: The Commemorative Text

Celebrate the glorious event of Brexit with this in-depth book. Generated by our dedicated AI, this text condenses down all the nuances to reach the purest essence at its heart.

Featuring nothing but the word BREXIT, repeated endlessly across 365 pages, all printed in patriotic monochrome, this book will surely be the perfect commemorative work of this momentous circumstance.

At a special price of just £250, become the envy of your friends and own this piece of history – not just today, but for ever to come.


(please note: self link/obvious satire)
posted by dng at 7:09 AM on January 31 [5 favorites]


how to mute plugchat

I think it's important that people find an outlet for their frustrations.
posted by zamboni at 7:09 AM on January 31 [42 favorites]


I'd like to socket to brexiters
posted by lalochezia at 7:13 AM on January 31 [7 favorites]


please install a bulky, antiquated plug right in the middle of boris johnson’s ugly face.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 7:15 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


I'd like to socket to brexiters

You're in luck, but I'd act quickly.
posted by bonehead at 7:15 AM on January 31


[One comment removed. I shouldn't have to say this but any variation on I'm regretfully hoping for the destruction of your country is fucked up and needs to go somewhere other than MetaFilter.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:16 AM on January 31 [37 favorites]


Hey, everyone who this doesn't immediately affect? Could you perhaps stifle the wisecracks?
posted by doornoise at 7:17 AM on January 31 [17 favorites]


Yeah, those of us not in the UK should be very careful how we participate. Idle catastrophizing and glib one liners should be left to those with the most to lose. This is not a spectator sport.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:20 AM on January 31 [9 favorites]


One possible long term outcome could be an example of city/state reconfiguration WITHOUT war. The geopolitical structure often seems arbitrary and just not quite right, borders that divide families, groups (example, Bosnia?) that do not really want to be grouped together. With all the problems that will certainly occur, it's perhaps better than changes that take thousands or millions of lives to be poorly resolved.
posted by sammyo at 7:21 AM on January 31


Every one of those commemorative 50p Brexit coins I come across is getting tossed in the fucking Thames.

Can I send you a tenner for this specific purpose?
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:22 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


A better use for the Brexit coins would be to donate them to a charity such as Refugee Action. Nothing to stop you scratching the word 'bollocks' on each one, if it's cathartic for you.
posted by pipeski at 7:26 AM on January 31 [15 favorites]


One possible long term outcome could be an example of city/state reconfiguration WITHOUT war. The geopolitical structure often seems arbitrary and just not quite right, borders that divide families, groups (example, Bosnia?) that do not really want to be grouped together. With all the problems that will certainly occur, it's perhaps better than changes that take thousands or millions of lives to be poorly resolved.

Clean borders even within jurisdictions as small as city-states just don't happen anymore, or honestly ever. There will always be problems with people being grouped together who don't want to be, find it advantageous to their power if they split or join, etc.

The best you can do is build systems that no one rights are trampled on and their basically free to do their own thing as along as it doesn't impact anyone else. If it does impact someone else, have an agreed upon way to settle disputes that both sides buy into as legitimate.
posted by jmauro at 7:28 AM on January 31 [5 favorites]




I should have known it was all the fault of the people that lost and had no power. Just like always
posted by dng at 7:36 AM on January 31 [7 favorites]


I moved back to the US in 2016 (it was a bad time to move; it was also a bad time to stay in the UK). I had to renew my UK passport in December, and it was a gut punch to receive the new one without the EUROPEAN UNION at the top.

Love to all of you this directly affects.
posted by minsies at 7:40 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


Every one of those commemorative 50p Brexit coins I come across is getting tossed in the fucking Thames.
posted by slimepuppy


Archeologists of the future will thank you! Coins are an excellent way to date a context - and will be invaluable in understanding the remains of the end times.
posted by jb at 7:53 AM on January 31 [5 favorites]


I have just learned that what we in the US call “grounding,” with regard to electrical things, in the UK they call “earthing”.
posted by Orlop at 7:56 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


I should have known it was all the fault of the people that lost and had no power. Just like always

The treacherous Remainer is at once weak and strong.

Next thing we'll undoubtedly hear of the Remainers' “sensual and trigonometric natures”.
posted by acb at 7:59 AM on January 31 [8 favorites]


So yesterday I found out that a two-month freelance project due to start in a week's time - money I that had been counting on - has had its funding frozen. Don't call us, we'll call you...
posted by doornoise


I'm sorry - that really sucks. I want to say something helpful, but can't think of anything. Cuts suck.
posted by jb at 8:07 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Brexit, along with the rise of Trump, Duterte, Putin, Bolsonaro and Edrogan, are all indicative of a global shift towards hard-right populism which will have (is having!) a deleterious impact on the world as a whole

"Technology-propelled propaganda" is a big part of why the the doomsday clock is set the way it is.

Relation to Brexit: Cambridge Analytica (and probably others that haven't been brought to light)

I think people in general are far too complacent about this stuff, mostly because it is so hard to identify. Compared to (for example) a well-publicised "£350 million for the NHS" on the side of a bus, where everyone sees it and knows that everyone else has too, targeted campaigns are completely alien to our cultural "immune system".
posted by swr at 8:08 AM on January 31 [7 favorites]


I've been listening to the Remainiacs podcast, and every episode they sign off with a listener calling in and giving a phrase in a European language. Their most recent episode, they chose someone who called in with an English quotation, since English is and will still be a European language even after today. It was John Donne:
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
Good luck, my friends.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 8:17 AM on January 31 [49 favorites]


What else is there to discuss?

When Farage finally removes his mask to reveal a cackling Anne Widdecombe, and Anne removes her mask to reveal Meghan Markle, all the pieces will fall into place.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 8:19 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


*heavy sigh*
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 8:31 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]




Big Ben has to "bong" for Brexit because if it "tolled" for Brexit everybody would be sitting around thinking about the enormous toll of Brexit.
posted by qntm at 8:34 AM on January 31 [7 favorites]


Ha! I beat Remainiacs to the pun. Whoops, no I didn't. Oh well.
posted by rory at 8:40 AM on January 31


It's a sad day indeed. I liked the linked 'Where's my elephant?' article above as it seems to explain so much of our current politics.

I left the UK at the end of last summer and decamped to Ireland. It was fairly clear at that stage that the Tories were heading for a thumping win and that Brexit was actually going to happen. I worry for my former home and friends and family there - I don't see any investment or jobs heading to the UK as a result of this, and the prospects of a good deal with any other player (EU, US, Commonwealth) seem unlikely given the compressed timescale. I don't see it being reversed any time soon either.
posted by BigCalm at 8:44 AM on January 31 [5 favorites]


The UK was quite lovely when I visited six years back (in the lead up to the Scottish independence vote, ironically). I hope the coming disunion doesn’t force the country into a slow decay. A drastic “jolt” from Brexit would put a lot of pressure on the Tories whereas a slow malaise can be hand-waved away with all sorts of plausible-yet-utter-bullshit excuses.

As to the plug situation, I find the UK’s building practices utterly mystifying—for a country chock full of beautiful buildings on average hundreds and some even approaching a thousand years old, why do you put up with such wonky, cheap weirdness?
posted by Big Al 8000 at 9:06 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


Clean borders even within jurisdictions as small as city-states just don't happen anymore, or honestly ever. There will always be problems with people being grouped together who don't want to be, find it advantageous to their power if they split or join, etc.

This. All that will happen is that urban areas will split from their constituent nations taking wealth with them. Then, when their rural areas get hit with depression and stop producing vital resources like, I don't know, food, said city-states use the money they're saving on not providing rural parts of the state with services to import food from other areas.

This obviously breaks down if everyone does it and all the rural areas in the world stop producing food.

In the United States we've also seen a reverse effect where cities have had their tax bases hollowed out as scared white people have taken wealth to the suburbs leaving cities with obligations they cannot pay. Detroit? White people left after '67 to north of the Eight Mile and Oakland County. Royal Oak has a property tax rate of 58 mils while Detroit has a rate of 70 mils and everything is worse.

I refuse to believe that this has been in any way a good thing. We're a society. If we take for ourselves and don't help each other we're sealing our fate, even if we think we're doing what's best for us.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:07 AM on January 31 [6 favorites]


Europe Endless
posted by meehawl at 9:33 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Remainiacs tangent: I enjoyed listening when shit was going down in the latter half of 2019. I live in Scotland and I remember how they were always admiring of Nicola Sturgeon's support of the remain movement. The SNP worked hard to avoid a hard Brexit and always campaigned for a second referendum, even though many commentators thought that might ultimately harm the independence movement.

But in a recent Remainiacs episode on the Labour leadership competition, they talked about who would be best to defeat the SNP and reclaim all their seats, with the assumption that this was a desirable outcome for the hosts and for the listeners. Well, fuck that – obviously solidarity only flows in one direction for them.
posted by adrianhon at 9:37 AM on January 31 [12 favorites]


If there's one fundamental tension in modern politics, it's that disdain is a very ineffective filter through which to view an adversary, but is very hard to avoid when one feels that respecting an adversary is somehow contrary to one's values.
posted by MattD at 9:43 AM on January 31 [7 favorites]


bung a bob for a Big Ben bong

That is a hell of a phrase.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:02 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Alliteration is the hallmark of mendacious right wing populism. The Sun is very fond of it, too.
posted by Grangousier at 10:17 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


I should have known it was all the fault of the people that lost and had no power.

It comes back to the plugs again.
posted by JackFlash at 10:41 AM on January 31 [8 favorites]


for a country chock full of beautiful buildings on average hundreds and some even approaching a thousand years old, why do you put up with such wonky, cheap weirdness?

To some extent you've answered your own question. Our housing stock is old as fuck, and much of it was built and fitted to outmoded standards and has not been consistently updated. This reflects not just the antiquity of existing buildings, but also a crisis in housebuilding (specifically the building of public "social" housing) meaning that there is a shortage of supply in housing market, increasing its value. But, in addition to housing stock actually being worth more, we're also in a housing bubble, so it's overvalued by an average of over 10%. So you get less much bang for your buck for housing (unless you're literally using bucks in which case I hope you enjoy the exchange rate). A lot of the new build properties that do exist are shitty cash-ins, built to the bare minimum standard but with a veneer of decency, aimed at first time buyers who will move on on five years and probably sell it to a predatory private landlord who'll charge a fortune for it, or maybe someone who'll set it up as an Airbnb. And, of course, those people maintain it to the bare minimum standard, often below what the law requires. But because there are hardly any environmental health officers and tenancy relations officers these days, no-one does anything about it.

Long story short: our housing situation is fucked. Wait...make that fuuuuuuucked. And the Tories don't really have a housing policy. So.

It's also fair to note that, while we mostly avoid the depth of poverty that is widespread in the US, the UK is still a significantly less wealthy country overall. The real average wage is about 75% of that in the US. So housing and fittings would have to be comparatively cheap in a lot of cases, even if all other things were equal.

To be fair, our building regulations are compliant with EU energy efficiency standards, which is good. We can enjoy that for the next 11 months, at least.

Our hotels, of course, are just a terrifyingly shit rip-off, but I don't know why. I don't know anything about hotels.
posted by howfar at 10:46 AM on January 31 [14 favorites]


disdain is a very ineffective filter through which to view an adversary

I don't know that that's true. Disdain is obviously a counterproductive way to treat your adversaries. And it's a poor way to understand their motives.

But when you've understood what's driving them, and got to the root motive, and it's as shit as every single motive for Brexit that I've heard is? But their desire to destroy what they don't understand, their belief in their innate superiority, their belief that the rules shouldn't apply to them? You have to have disdain for those motives.
posted by ambrosen at 11:02 AM on January 31 [12 favorites]


Has it been determined what is going to happen at the Irish border? It always seemed to be the hard focused disadvantage of Brexit that will be hard to slowly internalize and acquiesce to for most people (at least in the region).

The real average wage is about 75% of that in the US. So housing and fittings would have to be comparatively cheap in a lot of cases, even if all other things were equal.

Or housing would just have to be 25% smaller which is somewhere near being true.
posted by Mitheral at 11:05 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the post, rory. I'm so sad I have been avoiding the news, because they make me cry.
I look forward to the day you all come back, even my stupid Brexiteer family. Like in the Bible, I will slaughter the calf and bring out the fine cloth and the good wine for them.
posted by mumimor at 11:46 AM on January 31 [9 favorites]


To indulge in a momentary patriotic derail, UK>EU plugs. Love that chunky fused 3-pronger; those round European ones are always falling out of the wall when I visit.

Brexit is a self-inflicted barefoot step onto a UK plug.
posted by srboisvert at 11:51 AM on January 31 [8 favorites]


Has it been determined what is going to happen at the Irish border?

The latest WA has it in the Irish Sea. I guess the election win has allowed the Tories to tell the DUP to fuck themselves.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 11:51 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


Or housing would just have to be 25% smaller

Definitely accurate to some extent, but we also have to take into account the fact that certain aspects of fit and finish costs don't scale, and that a building should (if properly constructed, so see above) be significantly refurbished multiple times during its lifetime. So that, even if British buildings were constructed proportionally smaller and with the same value of fit and finish, the quality of that fit and finish would be affected by Britain's relatively poverty.

But, as I say, it's mostly the fact that no government in nearly 40 years has actually had a housing policy that isn't actively damaging to the effectiveness of our housing infrastructure.

In some ways this topic is a long way from the EU, but given that our collapsing housing infrastructure is probably the most overlooked political issue relative to its importance, and our future relationship with the EU is going to be one of the fundamental factors determining if and how we might be able to address this growing catastrophe, I hope people won't mind me drawing the conversation away from the plugs in order to mount my soapbox.

In any case, I hope you will all have an excellent weekend. All we can do, in any situation, is take care of each other. If we focus on extending proper support, in whatever form, to people who need it, we're going to make good decisions about how we use our energy, and we'll have more energy to use. I'm happy to fight, but I think the only way we'll be strong enough to fight for as long and as hard as we'll have to is to focus on protecting and supporting each other. We don't just need the notion of solidarity, or to come together to march much too late once again: we need to build friendships and communities in our neighborhoods and workplaces. We cannot rely on fear and anger as motivations to political action. We need the positive infrastructure of mutual support that sustains people and helps us identify and act on relevant issues.

So I guess if you need a hand with anything, let me know! I'll do my best to help.
posted by howfar at 11:54 AM on January 31 [10 favorites]


Leave votes from all over the Union counted towards this debacle.
posted by skybluepink at 11:58 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


NewsThump not-quite-sure-if-satire:
Boris Johnson to spend day masturbating into Got Brexit Done tea towel
posted by farlukar at 12:05 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


It's tragic and I'm sorry we failed. I'm in an industry that will directly benefit from Brexit, and I couldn't care less about that.
posted by jaduncan at 12:10 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Brexit is a reminder that the question "How can people be so f*cking stupid?" is still as rhetorical today as it has been throughout the rest of history.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 12:13 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


And, with each vote weighted by regional GDP, the leave vote represented 59.1% of GDP and remain vote represented 40.9%, which gives lie to the idea that Brexit came from the poor regions.

That's a fairly shonky spreadsheet of my own making, so I'm not going to publish anything on it. In particular, I definitely didn't think very hard about how to scale turnout to population, and I'm sure there's confounding issues like relative poverty, not to mention that GDP doesn't necessarily reflect wealth, especially at NUTS3 levels, and that people commute across NUTS3 boundaries, etc, etc.

But I believe that headline figure of wealth voted Leave would be proven correct.
posted by ambrosen at 12:14 PM on January 31 [7 favorites]


Housing/mortgage tangent: A few years ago, I bought a house. Since interest rates are so low, we're now paying barely 2% on our mortgage, and that's likely the case for most homeowners. Despite this, I know a vast number of Brits who are desperate to pay off their mortgage as early as possible. But at 2% interest, there are so many other useful or valuable things people could spend their money, whether that's investing or education or quality of life or just plain luxiries.

Why do people do this? One reason, stated explicitly by many, is that they treat mortgages as debt. That is WILD. It's not debt. When you pay your mortgage each month, you're building up equity. If you treat it like debt, it makes you think you're much poorer than you really are, which perhaps explains why so many objectively wealthy Brits act as if they're destitute. I have friends who are far smarter than me who still believe this, and I submit that it is a uniquely or at least especially British attitude.

The other reason is more sensible: people are terrified of becoming homeless and they want to buy a sense of security. Renting is expensive in many places, and more importantly, you're completely at the mercy of landlords who might hike your rent turf you out in favour of AirBNB guests at a moment's notice. Owning your own home is the best defence.

The problem is that this leads to an overloaded housing market and a population that is completely undiversified in financial assets. God knows what would happen if there was a housing crash in the UK at this point – which is why governments to everything to prop up the market, which is why there's so little building, which is why... and so on.

The only way out, I think, is to guarantee security. Guarantee renters they can't be turfed out, guarantee people will have a roof over their heads. Then maybe people won't be so desperate to pour all their money into housing. But with the UK out of the EU, with deregulation and a Tory government, I'm not holding my breath.
posted by adrianhon at 12:37 PM on January 31 [7 favorites]


You could always superglue the Brexit 50p coins over the locks of your local Tory associations so they have to drill through their phony messages of peace and progress to get in.
posted by davemee at 1:01 PM on January 31 [10 favorites]


Epoxy, the 5-minute kind so you can make your escape sooner.
posted by anthill at 1:28 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Why do people do this? One reason, stated explicitly by many, is that they treat mortgages as debt. That is WILD. It's not debt. When you pay your mortgage each month, you're building up equity.

What? Of course it’s debt. Loans backed by assets are still debt. It doesn’t matter how much equity you have built up—if you stop paying your mortgage, they’re going to take your house.

This is the kind of thinking that drives people to continually borrow against their equity.
posted by Automocar at 2:31 PM on January 31 [11 favorites]


Our hotels, of course, are just a terrifyingly shit rip-off, but I don't know why. I don't know anything about hotels.

Basil Fawlty really left his mark.
posted by delfin at 2:38 PM on January 31 [3 favorites]


If you stop paying your mortgage, the bank will take your house, yes – and then they'll sell it for the best price they can get to recoup their losses, and you'll get your equity back after that. If it's a debt, it's a good debt. And according to the FT:
Although the equity release market in the UK is big and booming, it is dwarfed by its American cousin, the reverse mortgage market, which stands at about five times its size.
So "people" in the UK do not continually borrow against their equity anywhere near as much as they do in the US, which was my entire point.
posted by adrianhon at 2:47 PM on January 31


Good luck, everyone.
posted by skybluepink at 3:02 PM on January 31 [4 favorites]


adrianhon, what you write seems insane, but on Brexit Night, I believe you.
posted by peepofgold at 3:02 PM on January 31


I love how the people arranging the celebrations in Parliament Square seem to think their audience needs a karaoke style lyrics presentation to be able to sing along to the national anthem.
posted by Dysk at 3:06 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


God bless us all. On this night, let us ignore our differences over mortgage definitions, all come together, and tell Brexit to fuck off.
posted by adrianhon at 3:07 PM on January 31 [16 favorites]


We are out of the EU and I'm planning to move to Ireland. Brexit is symbolic of the victory of a mean-spirited, xenophobic brand of politics that won in 2016 and has been behind in the polls ever since. But they've won for now.
posted by jaduncan at 3:11 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Lot of fireworks went off here.

55 million lives made worse, 10 million just made angrier, and that's on this island alone. All for nothing.

Worse things happen, but generally not for so little reason.
posted by ambrosen at 3:30 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]




bung a bob for a Big Ben bong

That is a hell of a phrase


This exchange on The News Quiz 101/02:

Nish Kumar: “Rosie - how many bongs does a Big Ben bong if a big bung won’t bing bong?”

Rosie Jones [dryly]: “Well, well done for giving the tongue-twister story to the one with cerebral palsy...”

(Rosie Jones, for those unfamiliar with her, is a comedian with CP, which affects her speech.)
posted by Morfil Ffyrnig at 4:37 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]




The real average wage is about 75% of that in the US. So housing and fittings would have to be comparatively cheap in a lot of cases, even if all other things were equal.

I know the numbers are hard to compare because of differences in housing, taxes, health care costs, exchange rate, neighborhoods, etc. But, I have a lot of coworkers that have moved between our Cupertino/SF and London offices, and the London to CA folks all agree that our kind of work (Software Engineering) just pays more (after all things are considered) in the the US than the UK, with the exception of FinTech jobs. For whatever reason, you get more money in London than in California for that kind of work.

So, for the niche of "big time software engineers moving between extra high cost of living areas" the 75% number might line up.
posted by sideshow at 5:32 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


sideshow: As another data point, this code monkey went from Edinburgh to Boston. Doubled my salary and halved my vacation time.

And while I'm here, bollocks to brexit.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 5:40 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


The Led By Donkeys message on the white cliffs got me earlier, and this got me tonight.

The stories about the future relationship aims from the government are making me seriously think about if I can move to the continent before the end of the implementation period. I hate this.
posted by MattWPBS at 5:41 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Much love to everyone impacted by this. Everyone I've had the pleasure of meeting from the UK has been absolutely lovely and kind. I know you're hurting and you deserve better.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:54 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


I spent tonight making dinner for four friends. I think this is one of the ways we survive this: by sustaining each other. I saw the cheesy Twitter post about sunflowers-- about how, when there's no sun, they turn their faces to each other instead (yellow petals, high albedo, etc). And I think that's what we need to do: share light when we have any, to keep each other going.
posted by Pallas Athena at 7:20 PM on January 31 [8 favorites]


It's tragic and I'm sorry we failed.

This is not over. This will not be over for a long, long, long time.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 9:03 PM on January 31


Heard one lot of fireworks from a spot in London which has pretty good range to pick them up. At least it rained all evening on any of the wangs trying to set them off.
posted by ominous_paws at 9:50 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Lots of fireworks in my area last night. I was in the trying-not-to-think-about-it avoiding-news early night camp, so thanks for that neighbourhood - woke me, reminded me, and made me sad AND angry.

I know there's not much new news to discuss right now but I'm so glad there's a thread. Even a silent huddle of miserable togetherness. It's like the inn at the end of the world, and I'm here with you.
posted by Ilira at 12:19 AM on February 1 [3 favorites]


It's a sad day. Let's hope the resulting trade agreement provides for a sinecure for poor Nigel now that he won't be able to draw on his Euro-salary for the first time in two decades.

I'm sorry it's come to that. Take care.
posted by ersatz at 12:46 AM on February 1 [1 favorite]


The plan for the trade agreement seems to involve full customs inspections on everything (according to The Telegraph's headline on Twitter. I won't read or link the article.)

So there's no way anything will be in place on 1st January 2021.
posted by ambrosen at 1:06 AM on February 1


The BS1363 plug standard was implemented, in 1942, by a committee headed by Lord Reith. So, I sometimes think about how he instilled the same spirit of prudish “we’re going to give you what we think is best for you”, he brought to the BBC. We haven’t talked too much about the role of the BBC in Brexit - but that they have not covered themselves in glory - and this is partly due to the endurance of that insular and superior attitude.

But, as I write on Feb 1st, I am thinking of my Scottish resident French friend who told me she was going to drink a bottle of home made prune wine last night. She wanted to toast Brexit with a drink which was French and which she knew would give her a suitably shocking hangover this morning. Seems appropriate.
posted by rongorongo at 1:14 AM on February 1 [1 favorite]




Excellent commentary from Tom Peck. Parliament Square was a knuckle-dragging carnival of irredeemable stupidity.

There they were, all gathered in one place. Not quite midnight’s children but 11 o’clock’s toddlers. Here, at the long-awaited end of dry January, was a once-proud nation coming together to wet its little trousers.

I am sorry for all of Europe, not just the UK. It’s been incredibly sad to watch - Mrs Inflatablekiwi and one of my kids are UK citizens, and I always imagined one day we might go live there - in the beating heart of Europe. But it just seems such a sad, angry, little Britain at the moment. Continue to resist you good remainers rejoiners of the UK and MeFi.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 5:01 AM on February 1 [5 favorites]


For whatever reason, you get more money in London than in California for that kind of work.

Mostly because 'The City' in London is a giant immoral money laundering operation that would be criminal if any reasonable government was regulating it.
posted by srboisvert at 6:44 AM on February 1 [13 favorites]


Have any gammons called for the reintroduction of the Black And White Minstrel Show on TV yet, or is it just the death penalty, the cane in schools and pre-decimal currency?
posted by acb at 6:49 AM on February 1


Have seen some horrifying “You must speak English only from now on” bullshit, and some heartwarming “Go fuck yourself”-style replies in Welsh.
posted by skybluepink at 7:12 AM on February 1 [13 favorites]


Since interest rates are so low, we're now paying barely 2% on our mortgage, and that's likely the case for most homeowners. Despite this, I know a vast number of Brits who are desperate to pay off their mortgage as early as possible

But what happens if the rates rise? They're at a tiny fraction of historic rates, and most mortgages aren't fixed for very long. An accompanying crash in property values would mean a lot of people underwater in houses they suddenly can't afford the repayments on and can't afford to sell.

I know the government will do everything it can to avoid that scenario, but (i) have you seen this shower? and (ii) we just lost a chunk of control of our destiny and (iii) there's currently a massive economic shock pencilled in for next January.

(though if the worst happens we'll be heading for a the-solvent-will-envy-the-bankrupt situation, and it'll all have been pointless)
posted by grahamparks at 7:42 AM on February 1


From that Tom Peck article: We have become the first country to throw off the yoke of an oppressor whom nobody else considers themselves oppressed by. We have won our freedom from our own imagined nightmares. Man, he's good.

"FREEDOM!!!! YEAAAASSSS!!!! F****** FREEDOM!!!! WE F****** DID IT!!! F****** FREEDOM!!! F****** DO ONE!! F****** DO ONE!!!!” Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations. F****** do one.
posted by rory at 9:53 AM on February 1 [3 favorites]


I saw in 11pm by watching Rocketman. In hindsight, it seems appropriate to have been watching a movie about someone who started out full of talent and promise, grew insanely rich, spent a few years going off the deep end in a coke-fuelled frenzy, and ended up in rehab.
posted by rory at 9:57 AM on February 1 [1 favorite]


For many older Europeans, the British were truly a shining beacon of freedom. In my grandparents' experience, it was the British, not the Americans who saved Western Europe from both the Nazis and the Communists. Obviously it was American money and arms, but it was British spirit and knowledge.
I've been brought up to be anglofile. My grandparents loved me boundlessly because I was the firstborn, but they loved me even more because of my private school received pronunciation (and they also loved that I could shift to East Yorkshire at any time). The reason I have family in England today is that for us, it was the promised land, but also that our family businesses crossed the sea. I was so happy when my eldest daughter studied in Edinburgh, extending our history to Scotland.
Cousins have married Brits, including Brits of color. We are a North Sea family. Fishermen across the North Sea, speaking dialects, can understand each other. The North Sea is a community in itself.
I'm not giving up the hope. I feel the younger generations want to be part of Europe, want to travel, to study and to fall in love across borders.
In ten years I think the brexiteers will be a tiny minority and the politicians will have to change accordingly.
posted by mumimor at 11:41 AM on February 1 [17 favorites]


Meanwhile, the EU has unveiled plans for a replacement for the UK, in the form of an artificial island on the Dogger Bank, which will be powered by renewable energy.
posted by acb at 12:19 PM on February 1 [3 favorites]


The wonderful John Le Carré on Brexit.
One day somebody will explain to me why it is that, at a time when science has never been wiser, or the truth more stark, or human knowledge more available, populists and liars are in such pressing demand.
posted by adamvasco at 2:38 PM on February 1 [13 favorites]


TIL that the MoD don't know how many Scottish people serve in the British army. This may become relevant! Who will replace them when the UK breaks up? I'm not fucking doing it!
posted by howfar at 2:53 PM on February 1


The UK might not be allowed to break up. I imagine that Johnson and Cummings between them are confident that, had they been in charge in 1916, Britain would have kept Ireland as a loyal dominion. Expect force to be brought to bear on any Scottish secession attempts, and the third verse of God Save The Queen (the one with the line “rebellious Scots to crush") to be dusted off once again.
posted by acb at 3:07 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


Why would they, when the absence of Scottish seats offers them the enticing prospect of being able to consistently secure working majorities with the support of a bare plurality (if that) of voters, comprising a frighteningly small minority of the population?

I don't think they give a damn about destroying the UK. They just stuck a border down the Irish Sea for crying out loud. They care about London and the bits of the home counties where they own property. That's it. Interest in the "Unionist" bit of "Conservative and Unionist" appears to be much fallen off in recent years.
posted by howfar at 3:57 PM on February 1 [5 favorites]




If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less

There are a certain couple of clods that Europe might be quite glad to see washed away by the sea …
posted by scruss at 7:21 PM on February 1


Police called in after poster tells residents of flats to speak English

"Many people voted for Brexit for a range of different reasons, however I am sure not many of them will condone this kind of thing.”


...and yet this kind of thing keeps happening. I think it's time to face the fact that an awful lot of people voted Brexit for exactly this reason. Not everyone, sure. But pretending like this is some utter outlier is not helpful.
posted by Dysk at 1:01 AM on February 2 [9 favorites]


The revolting victory lap in Parliament Square on Friday night certainly provided proof, if any more was needed, that plenty of Leavers are flat-out racist/xenophobic, and are emboldened by their success. I don’t see that just fading away now we’ve officially left, particularly as Johnson is already blustering about the EU being “unreasonable” in negotiating in its member states’ best interests, as if they should just give in to whatever he demands.
posted by skybluepink at 1:25 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


Really sorry to hear how this is affecting you, winterhill. I know exactly what you mean about those celebrations - while I know that plenty of decent, thoughtful, kind people also voted Leave, the public face of Brexit really does make it look (and feel) as if the government's decided to hand the country over to the thugs and the bigots and the bullies and the football hooligans. The Leave supporters with empathy won't have been the ones out there dressed up in Union Jack bovver boots, singing Rule Britannia and letting off fireworks.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 3:36 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Police called in after poster tells residents of flats to speak English

It's still legal to speak foreign languages in England. Of course, if you do so in public, some have-a-go-hero might shout at you or worse. Technically that's still criminal assault, though in the age of both massive police cuts from permanent austerity and the sense that aggressive xenophobia has a democratic mandate because it is “what the people are really thinking”, your odds of getting redress may not be good.

It's probably sensible to not speak foreign languages in public outside of central London, unless you have a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu or something.
posted by acb at 3:45 AM on February 2


The problem is that in this country, the end of EU membership is being pushed by the kind of people who are xenophobic thugs and bullies, starting right at the top with the Prime Minister and his dreadful light-show and gong. It emboldens people who never stopped making p*ki jokes down the pub and moaning that "you can't say anything any more" and think that their awful, violent attitude is what everyone was really thinking all along. It's not Brexit that's the real issue any more, it is what it is, it's the people who've been promoting it.

Yes, exactly. Sorry, I think I phrased my comment badly, because that's what I was trying to say - that by encouraging public celebration on Friday, the government wasn't inviting the country as a whole to celebrate, or even the people who voted for the outcome achieved - they were very specifically giving carte blanche to the bigots etc. to be openly jubilant. Telling them "this is your country now".

It certainly doesn't feel like my country at the moment.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 4:34 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Talking Politics' latest episode discusses the idea that it's not Brexit and the late 2010s that are aberrant in British history – it's the 90s and early 2000s, decades in which the country made long-overdue strides towards combatting racism and sexism. They didn't go anywhere near as far as they should, but it was a movement in the right direction.

Their point is that perhaps we are returning to the norm, which is more like the 1970s. I hope it ain't so, but the longer this Tory rule goes on, the more I'm inclined to believe it...
posted by adrianhon at 4:39 AM on February 2 [4 favorites]


Dysk: Police called in after poster tells residents of flats to speak English

I just saw that. I was just thinking: if all my worst fears were true, if the Brexit vote was purely racist, if everything else was just window dressing to hide the creeping fascism, what would it look like?

And yeah, it looks like this.
posted by Acey at 5:28 AM on February 2


if any country will have someone who just got a masters in Urban Planning.
We need planners in Denmark, and there are even some international offices where you wouldn't have to know Danish from the start.
posted by mumimor at 5:41 AM on February 2


Day 2 and the lies continue unabated.
EU reneges on deal’ turns out to mean ‘EU maintains its longstanding position to which the UK agreed in the Political Declaration’. Not quite the same thing.
It will only get worse. Everything will become the EU's fault.
Raab's at it as well.
Truth is now completely expedible.
We are fully inside Weimer part II here as seen by the loutish chants and attacks on those outside the purity of Engerland.
So to all of you this applies to please be vigilant and go carefully and publicise the lies and hate. At the moment it seems to be the only way to resist, as until the Tory right wing consume themselves in hatred to achieve their twisted retrograde fantasies there seems no way forward.
posted by adamvasco at 6:01 AM on February 2


The wonderful John Le Carré on Brexit.

He was awarded the Olaf Palme prize a few days ago. Plenty of coverage in international papers.
The Olof Palme prize is intended to reward “an outstanding achievement in any of the areas of anti-racism, human rights, international understanding, peace and common security”.

Oddly the Guardian is the only UK newspaper to cover it. He gave a wonderful speech. Excerpt:


As I continue to read and think my way through Palme’s life, my sense of kinship becomes possessive. I want a Palme for my country, which in my lifetime hasn’t produced a single statesman of his stamp. I want him now. I’m not just a remainer. I’m a European through and through, and the rats have taken over the ship, I want to tell him. It’s breaking my heart and I want it to break yours. We need your voice to wake us from our sleepwalk, and save us from this wanton act of political and economic self-harm. But you’re too late.

If Johnson and his Brexiteers had their way, it would be declared St Brexit’s Day. Church bells across the land would peal out the gladsome tidings from every tower. And good men of England would pause their stride and doff their caps in memory of Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, Trafalgar, and mourn the loss of our great British empire. Empires don’t die just because they’re dead.

We Brits are all nationalists now. Or so Johnson would have us believe. But to be a nationalist you need enemies and the shabbiest trick in the Brexiteers’ box was to make an enemy of Europe. “Take back control!” they cried, with the unspoken subtext: and hand it to Donald Trump, along with our foreign policy, our economic policy, our health service and, if they can get away with it, our BBC.

So Boris Johnson with our blessing has taken his place beside two other accomplished liars of our time: Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. If Palme were trying to get the truth out of them, which of the three would he turn to? Or none of the above?

One day somebody will explain to me why it is that, at a time when science has never been wiser, or the truth more stark, or human knowledge more available, populists and liars are in such pressing demand.

posted by vacapinta at 6:12 AM on February 2 [20 favorites]


EU reneges on deal’ turns out to mean ‘EU maintains its longstanding position to which the UK agreed in the Political Declaration’. Not quite the same thing.
It will only get worse. Everything will become the EU's fault.


Yes, this is what makes me sceptical about the Remainer cold comfort that I've often seen mentioned: that without the EU, the UK and its political class will at last be unable to deflect the blame for their own failures. It seems fairly self-evident that the EU will remain a convenient scapegoat through the negotiations and long afterwards. Even if it doesn't, there will always be others to blame.
posted by tavegyl at 7:37 AM on February 2 [4 favorites]


A lot of people these days assume all politicians are liars, so pointing out Johnson is a massive one didn't have much impact.

They do judge them on how they deliver though. Boris promised he could 'get Brexit done' - and that it would be great, the latter promise repeatedly for years now.

So people will blame him for future economic and social crisises, regardless of whether he's actually responsible. A weakened economy - due to the hard Brexit - will be in poor position to weather the next recession, and that's probably what will take him down, regardless of whether it's actually anything to do with Brexit per se.

Blaming the EU will continue to work, until it doesn't. All we can do now is keep chipping away, get an actual leader of the Opposition who's capable of looking like a PM-in-waiting and isn't outright hostile to the EU and try to survive the next few years in our own lives.

Plus a load of old racist gammons will die in the interim, so there's that.
posted by Absolutely No You-Know-What at 7:55 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


adamvasco: One day somebody will explain to me why it is that, at a time when science has never been wiser, or the truth more stark, or human knowledge more available, populists and liars are in such pressing demand.

It might precisely be because the truth is so stark... and so unpleasant. Science is telling us things we don't want to hear. It's much more pleasant to be lied to.
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:13 AM on February 2 [4 favorites]


Tim Stanley
Brexit would never have happened without the Telegraph. It fell to me, as the Sunday leader writer, to tell the story of the Sunday Telegraph's war against the EU - which goes back decades.
posted by adamvasco at 8:20 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


Even if it doesn't, there will always be others to blame.

Yes, the history of even completely authoritarian fascism is not full of people saying 'yes, I suppose as supreme leader that is my fault'. Part of the privilege of hard power is that people pretend to believe your excuse.
posted by jaduncan at 10:27 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


Dysk: Police called in after poster tells residents of flats to speak English

I find it amusing to think back on Victorian England, the ultimate nostalgia point for modern day Brexiters and recall that its rulers, Victoria and Albert in their palace, spoke German to each other - it was Victoria's first language and Albert had a strong German accent.

Also Boris just gave a speech comparing Brexit to the Glorious Revolution, you know, when the Dutch House of Orange took over Britain.
posted by vacapinta at 4:10 AM on February 3 [11 favorites]


mumimor: We need planners in Denmark, and there are even some international offices where you wouldn't have to know Danish from the start.

What's a good place to look more generally for jobs in Denmark? I'm in commercial reporting/analysis (playing with lots of spreadsheets and dashboards) in the consumer electronics business.

Everything coming out about what Johnson et al see as the needs for the future relationship makes me think the UK's in for a rough ride, and I'm tending more and more towards GTFO before the end of the implementation period makes it harder.
posted by MattWPBS at 4:33 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


The same Glorious Revolution that was followed by the Jacobite Risings?
posted by skybluepink at 4:35 AM on February 3


It's probably sensible to not speak foreign languages in public outside of central London, unless you have a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu or something.

Yeah, no thanks. I'll keep speaking whatever language I want to in public, wherever I want.

I don't care who voted for what. Brexit in itself is, in this sense, neutral. While I voted Remain and would have continued to do so in a million subsequent referendums, EU membership in itself is not an indicator of whether a country is safe to live in for immigrants, people of colour, queer people, trans people, etc. Iceland, Canada and New Zealand are not known for their bands of jackbooted thugs roaming the streets and none are EU members. Fascist-infested Hungary and Poland with its openly homophobic government and regular anti-LGBT marches are both full members of the EU with their feet firmly under the table. I wavered over the ballot paper thinking of the EU's tolerance of Orbán et al before voting Remain. The economic arguments are another thing entirely, but we could very easily be an inclusive, tolerant, open nation outside of the EU.

The problem is that in this country, the end of EU membership is being pushed by the kind of people who are xenophobic thugs and bullies, starting right at the top with the Prime Minister and his dreadful light-show and gong. It emboldens people who never stopped making p*ki jokes down the pub and moaning that "you can't say anything any more" and think that their awful, violent attitude is what everyone was really thinking all along. It's not Brexit that's the real issue any more, it is what it is, it's the people who've been promoting it.


I can't for the life of me remember where I read it but I'm reminded of a comment piece which theorised that American "anti-Europeanism" and European "anti-Americanism" have, in the 20th century at least, never actually been about real Europe or the real US.

They have always been about opposing domestic forces. Americans who are supposedly "anti-French", neither know about nor care about real French culture. The "other" that they hate is the American who affects to speak a little French, who cares about culture, who (most of all) they imagine looks down on them.

Similarly, there is a very real undertone in the dislike of "The EU", not for actual Europeans, but for fancy-lad British people with the university educations and careers to benefit from a Europe facing Britain. In my own social circle there's a number of British people who have studied in Germany, lived in Paris, done business with the Dutch.

They feel European because they read literature in multiple European languages, they were taught classical European languages1 and European culture from a young age. Therefore they feel a common heritage and affinity with other Europeans. On some level, they may feel more affinity with well educated people in Paris and Ghent than they do with people watching The Masked Singer down the road.

That I think is what some people hate most of all.

(1) Not that this has stopped Johnson.
posted by atrazine at 6:06 AM on February 3 [16 favorites]


Also Boris just gave a speech comparing Brexit to the Glorious Revolution, you know, when the Dutch House of Orange took over Britain.

My orange flags are ready for this. Charles can swap his helicopter for a bike (which he'd probably prefer anyway).
posted by atrazine at 6:08 AM on February 3


What's a good place to look more generally for jobs in Denmark? I'm in commercial reporting/analysis (playing with lots of spreadsheets and dashboards) in the consumer electronics business.

You can try this, it can speak English. I don't know how good it is for your field. If you are serious, send me a memail and I can ask my brother, he works in the sales end of that.
posted by mumimor at 6:26 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]




It's probably sensible to not speak foreign languages in public outside of central London, unless you have a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu or something.


Deff off not takin that yampy advice.
posted by srboisvert at 7:36 PM on February 3 [7 favorites]


These days I'm binge watching Monty Don series on British and international gardens on YouTube, as part of my job and yes, it is lovely. But I'm quite shocked at how chauvinistic and colonialist his view is, and how it comes up in the most unsuspected places. Then I'm reminded that I'm the same generation and also the same generation as Farage and Johnson and went to private schools and I still have my history books, because history was my favorite subject and I loved those books. (You got them from the school each term and had to give them back, but I bought them used at country fairs with my pocket money). Looking at them now, Brexit seems inevitable.
We were brought up to see England as the center of the Universe, and basically learnt very little about any other part of the world unless it was an English/British colony. No other points of view were introduced, at all. One weird thing was how places completely disappeared from view when they were no longer in English/British possession. I was an adult before I really understood that Aquitaine is a real place, and not a lost Atlantis, because I couldn't find out how to match English Aquitaine with real places in France. It's the same with Ireland. When the Leavers forgot Ireland, I got it right away, of course they did. (I didn't forget Ireland because I moved to Europe and was introduced to another view of the world).
I don't know what the curriculum is today, but I suspect younger people have a different perspective because they are more exposed to the world. I was a curiosity in my class in Yorkshire, for being a foreigner, regardless of looking pretty much exactly like my English peers. Nobody had ever traveled, even to London. I was sailing across the North Sea every summer. Wasn't that something. Even most of the teachers hadn't tried anything like that.
Obviously, our generation was rapidly exposed to cheap international travel, but for most people, nothing happened that could or would change the message in those history books. Drinking beer while speaking English in a hotel in Malaga or Bangkok doesn't change your mindset, it just makes you even pinker.
posted by mumimor at 10:01 AM on February 8 [6 favorites]


It's probably sensible to not speak foreign languages in public outside of central London, unless you have a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu or something.

It's not so much that I object to the timidity as to the sheer inaccuracy of this remark. There are nasty, racist places, but Britain remains a very safe country by almost any global or historical standard. In the last decade I've lived in Cornwall, Plymouth, Sheffield, Birmingham and Bristol. I also regularly spend time working with and for socially disadvantaged people in isolated
and largely ethnically homogeneous rural communities, and inner city areas with significant ethnic diversity. In none of those places do I recognise the picture you paint of hair trigger violence at the sound of a foreign language.

This isn't to minimise the problem of racism. Our society is terrifyingly racist, significantly more racist than it was a decade ago, and even more compared to the turn of the century. It's fucking terrible and it's everywhere. It's a major stress factor for me, even in my generally regarded as pretty stressful job. So I do understand the reasons to see things in a bleak light, but let's not get carried away here: things are bad, but we're not living under the Fourth Reich just yet. If we forget that, we're going to forget to fight the fascists when they make their next push.

Also, anecdotally, the time I saw, heard and heard of the most racist language, thought and behaviour, of the most distressing kinds, and saw it most tolerated, was when I lived in Newham, long before Brexit was anything more than a twinkle in Farage's eye. This isn't a new problem, it's just worse. So practically speaking, tackling the problem seems to be a matter of keeping our chins up and carrying on fighting harder until we win, die or both. I think that a realistic representation of the situation we face (and hence a realistic understanding of how much we still have to lose) is part of that. It's even possible that positive propaganda about our prospects of success might even be useful, if properly deployed, given its value in past conflicts, but I don't think it is a good strategy in a media environment that is in the control of people who hate us.
posted by howfar at 11:45 AM on February 8 [12 favorites]


I think muminor is probably speaking to a fairly specific experience, that a lot of very powerful men had:

I'm reminded that I'm the same generation and also the same generation as Farage and Johnson and went to private schools and I still have my history books, because history was my favorite subject and I loved those books.

It is easy to forget that the "England got to be top nation and then freed everyone, so the Americans will let us be top nation forever, because they know they need us"* narrative was forced down people's throats in many schools, and particularly private and "public" schools, for several decades after the war. My dad, who just turned 70, complains about how deluded many of his peers are about our place in the world. I think there is a reality to the things being described here.

*Because why bother learning anything from King Lear?
posted by howfar at 3:31 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


winterhill, I'm very sorry and I certainly wasn't thinking that all English people are ignorant. But it is very clear that a lot of the Tories had literally forgotten Ireland, and yes, it's what howfar said.
posted by mumimor at 11:13 PM on February 8


In terms of Brexit effects, I was seeing mentions in my UK Twitter that people were heading off to see the movie Parasite for the first time. This seems odd since I saw it last year here in Amsterdam and it seems like everyone in the US saw it last year too.

The UK it turns out is one of the last countries in the world to get it. There was an article last October pointing out how this screening was only happening at all because of the EU-funded Curzon, that foreign language films are risky in the UK market and that the situation will undoubtedly get much worse after Brexit.
posted by vacapinta at 3:37 AM on February 9 [3 favorites]


How many people in Stoke (or anywhere else) want to see a film kind of doesn't matter:

According to Knatchbull, Curzon is the biggest net benefactor in the UK from the EU’s Creative Europe programme. It received just under £2m in 2018 from various Creative Europe programmes and has just received a £627,000 (€700,000) grant for Curzon Home Cinema.

“Obviously all of this is at risk [when the UK leaves the EU],” said Knatchbull.


Nobody is throwing shade at you personally winterhill, or at the north generally (though I know that is something that does and has happened here) when they point out that these businesses are at risk without EU funding, or that men of a particular age and particular public school background might have a certain outlook instilled in the through schooling.
posted by Dysk at 8:49 AM on February 9 [4 favorites]


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