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Bursting the Brexit bubble

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No one can say with confidence what the outcome of Britain’s referendum on Europe will be. Whatever the result, we can be certain it will leave a lasting impact on British politics and the nation’s relationships around the world.

The polls are too close for comfort for those, namely Prime Minister David Cameron, who were confident that when presented with the evidence British voters would back the safer status quo option. The polls show the referendum is dividing Britain along striking demographic lines. Younger voters, the university educated, and people living in London or Scotland want to stay in the EU. Older voters, those on lower incomes, and people living in the English regions want to take Britain out.

It may come down to turnout: Leavers are said to be more passionate. If overall turnout is low, they will carry the day. But if turnout rises above around 55%, that could push the Remain campaign over the line.

The debate has been nasty. The truth is what you say it is, as far as some of the leading campaigners are concerned. Anyone who presents evidence counter to your views is fair game for personal attack. It has not taken long for Trump-style politics to reach Britain. It may be here to stay.

The choice is not a trivial one. It will have profound consequences either way, but particularly if the Vote Leave side prevails.

It would mean political instability in Britain, political uncertainty in the rest of Europe – and foster a sour relationship that would be damaging for both sides. If Cameron loses, he will have little choice but to resign. He would have lost the confidence of his party and could not credibly lead the negotiations over the terms of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

The Conservative Party would choose his successor in a process that could take months. The key issue would be Britain’s future relationship with the EU after Brexit. There are as many visions for that as there are credible candidates for the job to replace Cameron.

Adding to the uncertainty would be Scotland. If Britain votes to leave, while Scotland votes to stay, the Scottish National Party would likely call for a rerun of the 2014 independence referendum.

Around Europe, a vote to leave would be met with dread, for fear it could embolden populist and Eurosceptic parties elsewhere. It would provide a boost to the far-right Front National in France and Alternative für Deutschland in Germany, two countries that will hold national elections in 2017.

In Brussels, the worry would be that other countries – perhaps the Netherlands, Sweden or Denmark – might be tempted to follow the British example and hold their own referendums. This would be the political backdrop for Britain and the EU to negotiate the divorce. After more than 40 years, it would be complicated and messy. Time would be short. While there would be a clear economic incentive to work things out, the politics would not be so benign.

The imperative in Brussels would be for Brexit to be costly, in order to discourage others. This means disruption to trade in goods and services is inevitable. And that may overturn the business case for some investments, adding to the economic disruption.

If Britain votes to stay in the EU, Cameron would rightly feel that he has dodged a bullet. But it would not be the end of his Europe problems. His party would be more divided than ever on Europe. With a small majority in Parliament, he may struggle to hold his party together. He would need to demonstrate to the Eurosceptics that he was being tough on Europe, which would mean more confrontation with Brussels. He would also be vulnerable to policy reversals at home, which has already become a habit on issues such as welfare cuts, education reforms and industrial policy.

The consequences can be summed up in just two words that are not traditionally associated with Britain – political risk.

The most remarkable thing is that it is almost entirely self-inflicted.

© The Mark News

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

12 Comments
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Pull out and what then? The Brexiteers seem to imagine all the problems will be solved at a stroke. Except England - because this is being stoked by petty English nationalism - will have all the same problems and many more besides and will be forcing them on to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as well.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Political risk indeed: Brexit may well mean losing Scotland, and the Northern Ireland peace process is seriously threatened by the prospect of a resurrected border.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"It has not taken long for Trump-style politics to reach Britain. It may be here to stay."

Trump didn't create this kind of nonsense. This crap has been in the UK for a while. The kippers and the Tory right have been banging on about this for years with inflammatory rhetoric.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

*MoonrakerJun. 20, 2016 - 07:15AM JST

Pull out and what then? The Brexiteers seem to imagine all the problems will be solved at a stroke. Except England - because this is being stoked by petty English nationalism - will have all the same problems and many more besides and will be forcing them on to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as well.*

Uh...actually. No...not 'petty' anything. Just a logical conclusion to the administrative and political mess that the EU has become and the fraud on which it was built....a free trade area only. Scottish voters are inidicating support for Brexit....so no room for your argument there. A leading Irish politician thought Blair and Major to-gether the desparation of two 'grumpy old men'. Major was upset about what he termed as lies and dishonesty. He should know I guess. Some unifier Blair is!!! I thought he was adept at bombing his way in and let everyone else count the cost of what to do with the devesation left in the country afterwards. They tried the same with Syria. Change the 'tyrant'....but only to one we prefer.

'Trump style politics?'. You mean a four times bankrupt not initially serious about his candicacy or President, making outrageous comments then found, after all that, American voters rather like him for it. Where is the 'Trump' effect in our referendum debate. Boris, Nigel, Gove, Penny Morduant (defence minister), Villiers (Northern Ireland Minister), Grayling (leader of the commons)....a long, long list through all the parties including Corbett himself if only he did not have self-interested 'Blair boys' supporters stinking the party out.

I note the few contributors to this including the article writer...'here we go again' I thought. Full of 'could', 'may', 'if' and their own personal prejudices and assumptions built in and abusing those who have a right to their opinions.

So calm down guys.....mind your own business.....and hey! Notice the Japanese export deficit to-day....if you print funny money, at least buy something with it that brings a return before you have to shove it back under the carpet.

We will know in a few days time. And if its OUT...and others wish to follow....its called 'Democracy' guys...not tyranny. The tyranny comes in when without a buy or leave two guys get to-gether in the USA...cock up an excuse to bomb the hell out of a nation to destroy it (several times in fact......Obama "Libya was a mistake...." ..where had he been sleeping when they were doing the same thing to Iraq?) and create the refugee crisis in which many people had misreably lost their lives drowning...risking their lives as what kife had to offer was the risk of dying by drowning less of a risk to dying by bombs or 'collateral' drone strike damage.

And if YOU had a pile of money, would you hand it over for someone to consider if they might give you some of it back and up to them in which way. The rank stupidity I have heard from those trying to pretend it does nto happen knows no bounds...and many from men who would not even trust their wives with their own money least of all hand over his paypacket to her.

Have a good day!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Political risk indeed: Brexit may well mean losing Scotland, and the Northern Ireland peace process is seriously threatened by the prospect of a resurrected border.

If there is a Brexit, expect N ireland, scotland, and wales to leave england, adopt the euro and go back to the EU. that's what's going to happen.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I don't live in UK any more so this is not of immediate concern to me. However I do have some sympathy for those who have to put up with EU bureaucracy, overused public services and difficulty finding work and so on. EU is indeed a bit of a fraud and has nort delivered on promises. Just look at Club Med countries to see the consequences. UK is fortunate not to be in Euro so not a stretch why folks might think it would be fortunate to be out of EU.....

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@GodFly:

"You mean a four times bankrupt"

What does that mean? He personally was not bankrupted four times. Four of his business adventures were. It was no this bank account nor funding. It was speculative money invested in 4 different business by people like you and me that invest in stocks and gamble to win. Simple capitalism my friend. Please do some simple research before making erroneous statements. Thank You. Ms. D

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Well, Godfrey, if your stream of consciousness is an example of "a logical conclusion" then I can see where this is heading. Hopefully when it all goes t!ts up you will be happy you won't be able to blame anyone else for the mess that your country will become.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Wakarimasen As an outsider I naturally love the idea of the EU, though I get your frustration. Maybe taxing goods and services 25% in addition to normally high income tax rates could be responsible for a bit of that? Americans are a bit whack with our taxing policies, but we know how to encourage job growth, at least.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Whoever controls the counting of the votes will control the outcome.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Well, that is what the EU is, another (many) pair of hands looking for money from member states. All countries tax their citizens and the EC requires 'contributions' from member states ie the tax payer! So, the average citizen pays for their own state bureaucracy and that of the EU, so basically a double tax! Meanwhile, it spews directives and regulations in official legalese costing member states vast sums of money to carry out their implementation. What the EU does is also secretive! Secret documents such as the TPP which cannot be divulged to those that have paid for it nor can it be discussed by MEPs because no copy exists! Doesn't sound democratic does it? Meanwhile, the British cannot even walk their own streets without having to step over the latest beggar from some far flung Eastern state just arrived on the overnight bus! Immigration is one big stinking pile of gross mismanagement. In London, there are semi permanent migrant encampments under most bridges - the government doesn't seem to notice this.Farage recently was criticized for his poster of Middle Eastern migrants but to anyone living in West London they will know what he is alluding to. Maybe Gregor doesn't notice that 45% of the people in London were not born there nor will he hear English spoken on the buses anymore!!!! When the one million Syrians get a a German passport they will be off to the less regulated UK -thank you Herr Merkel.

What does the EU do to its members when they are near bankrupt? It pressures them to take on more debt as it did with Greece The breakdown in negotiations in Greece and the consequent poverty and chaos experienced by the people there plainly show the failings of the EU

The EU is like a mindless blood sucking insect, except it never falls off......

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Michael Gove’s father has contradicted claims made by his son that the family’s fish processing firm in Aberdeen was destroyed by the European Union’s fisheries policies.

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/15/michael-gove-father-company-eu-policies-fish-processing-aberdeen?CMP=share_btn_tw

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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