Who Really Holds the Cards in the EU-Brexit Stand-off?

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Trying to make an example of the UK will likely backfire.

By Don Quijones, Spain & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET.

For the first time ever, the exit door leading out of the European Union is open, albeit slightly. Against all expectations, the UK has somehow managed to jam its figurative foot in the gap between the metaphorical door and its frame. Whether it actually pries the door open or timidly withdraws its foot, only time will tell.

As we warned even before the elections, if the British government fails to honor a majority vote to leave the EU, it won’t be the first time that a referendum in the EU, after people voted the “wrong way,” would essentially be squashed. And if London does manage to pull off a tactical withdrawal from the EU, it’s unlikely to be painless.

The British people may have managed to drown out the constant doomsaying of Project Fear in order to vote for independence from the EU, but the fear and dread are more present than ever as establishment forces on both sides of the English Channel warn of all the imaginative ways in which the EU will seek to punish the UK for its reckless disobedience.

You can hardly blame disillusioned eurocrats for wanting to make Britain suffer for its brazen disregard for European unity, especially as growing ranks of EU members begin entertaining similar ideas of holding their own in/out referendums. To deter other European countries from leaving the bloc, the European Union “should refrain from setting wrong incentives for other member states when renegotiating relations,” recommends one internal German finance ministry document.

The European Commission’s increasingly jaded president, Jean-Claude Juncker, has “insisted” on showing a “tough stance” towards the British government. He has also given members of the European Commission strict instructions not to hold any talks with Britain or visit the country until the U.K. government launches formal proceedings to leave the EU.

But however tempting it may be to make an example out of the UK, it could end up backfiring.

As is widely acknowledged, one of the main causes of the Brexit revolt is the pent-up frustration of the disenfranchised working and lower middle classes, the olvidados (forgotten ones) of post-industrial Britain. By voting against continued EU membership, the long-abandoned lower ranks of UK society were able to finally exact their revenge on the country’s political and business elite and the political parties that had long sold them down the river.

The problem for the EU is that restless, angry, disenfranchised voters is hardly a uniquely British problem. It is a phenomenon that Mark Blyth, professor of Political Economy at Brown University, calls Trumpism, and it is on the rise throughout advanced economies, as even the European Commission now rather belatedly concedes:

We are aware that discontent with the functioning of the EU as it is today is manifest in parts of societies. We take this very seriously and are determined to make the EU work better for all our citizens.

As much as it would like to, the EU appears to be quietly acknowledging that there are stringent limits to just how far it can go in its collective punishment of British society, especially given the growing public opposition across Europe to further integration.

As John Mauldin points out, the UK is not Greece:

Attempting to shun the British carries heavy potential consequences. Anything imposed on the British will resonate on the Continent. And Germany — which gets almost 50% of its GDP from exports — is not likely to let anyone hinder that trade.

Almost one in three cars sold in Britain comes from Germany, making the British island the biggest export destination for German car producers. It is around a fifth of the total number the industry exports worldwide. In 2015 Britain reached a new peak of 2.6 million car registration, 86% of which were not produced in the UK.

A market of that size would no doubt be sorely missed, especially given that Germany’s biggest car manufacturer, Volkswagen, posted its worst annual loss ever in 2015, having set aside more than $18 billion to address recalls, legal settlements, and other potential penalties resulting from its use of software in diesel-powered vehicles to dupe U.S. emissions tests.

Even in the EU, money does most of the walking and talking. The fact that the UK is a very large net importer of EU goods, especially those made by Europe’s manufacturing powerhouse, Germany, whose economy is already fizzling thanks to a slowdown in China and Western-imposed sanctions on Russia, should give the British government a relatively strong hand in Brexit negotiations, assuming they ever take place.

So just how much economic pain is the EU willing or able to impose on its 27 other Member States in order to make an example of the UK?

Considering that the Greek disaster is still unfolding, Finland’s economy is beginning to wobble, France continues to seethe with strikes and pitched street battles, and Italian and Spanish banks are so crocked that they need constant infusions of cash just to stay afloat, the answer is probably “very little.” In fact, once you drown out all the noise, bluster and propaganda, it’s hard not to conclude that the EU, not Britain, could well hold the weaker set of cards right now.

That’s not to say that the UK will not suffer dire consequences if it tries to consummate its divorce from Brussels. Political polarization and instability have already reached levels not seen for decades. There is also the (somewhat overblown) threat of Scottish separatism to contend with. And the UK economy is almost certainly in for a hellishly bumpy ride in the months and years ahead, especially if its trade deficit continues to worsen, credit rating agencies continue to downgrade its debt, and the City of London loses much of its allure as a global financial center (none of which are certain).

And yes, Brussels can hurt the UK; in fact, it could probably wreck the British economy if it so desired, namely by severing all trade ties with London and cancelling the City’s passporting rights. But it would be a desperate act of (to borrow one of Cameron’s pet Project Fear expressions) willful “self-mutilation”!

In the end, however tough the road that lies ahead may seem for Britain’s policy makers, businesses, and workers, it pales into insignificance compared to the nation-building challenges faced by the self-anointed architects of the European Super State. By Don Quijones, Raging Bull-Shit.

And how will Brexit impact the US where business optimism is already “lowest since the height of the Financial Crisis.” Read… How Vulnerable is the Shaky US Economy to Brexit Fallout and European Bank Meltdown?

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  52 comments for “Who Really Holds the Cards in the EU-Brexit Stand-off?

  1. Juergen
    June 29, 2016 at 9:25 am

    It’s definitely not the case that someone wants to make an example out of the UK. It’s just about not letting them cherry-picking because that’s one thing the UK had pretty successfull tried to do since it joined the EU. IfThe want to get out, so they should be treated equal to Norway, Iceland, Switzerland. Besides that they’re playing for time now. But maybe you could see it this way: the leave-campaign used to campaign by saying that UK is paying GBP 230m a week to Brussels. They wanted to fund their NHS with the savings. So in favour of all Brexiters they shouldn’t waste any time at all.

    • Daniel Jackson
      June 29, 2016 at 3:03 pm

      That is so untrue. Of course they are trying to make an example and in particular Jean Claud Juncker, who is in my opinion more responsible for a leave vote than anyone else.

      Of course we are not playing for time. How on earth do you expect to negotiate without a Prime Minister and a Leader of the Opposition as in the UK the vote to leave is advisory and has to pass through Parliament.

      What is wrong Juergen is that the UK and Germany in particular know full well the EU needs reforming, most residents of the EU want reform, and the growing number of countries lining up for referendum show that too.

      The problem is the bias shown by Jean Claud who acts more like a dictator, even down to his PROCLAMATION to everyone not to talk to the British before Article 50, when that is insane!!

      By talking before Article 50 there is a good chance that reform could defuse those other countries complaining about lack of reform, and also mean that the UK would have to reballot the electorate if terms of EU membership had changed since the ballot. So a proclamation which doesn’t seem backed by EU rules not to talk to UK until Article 50 is simply ridiculous. By all means don’t talk to UK about negotiation exit, but you should definitely be talking to the UK about reform which might mean exit is unnecessary, and not by giving a special deal to the UK, but by EU reforms that many countries know are overdue.

      When you get comments by Jean Claud who cannot hide his bias against democracy and the UK, as here are an example:

      “There can be no democratic choice against the European treaties.”
      “Prime Ministers should pay LESS ATTENTION TO THEIR ELECTORATE.”
      “Of course there will be transfers of sovereignty. But would I be intelligent to draw the attention of public opinion to this fact?,”

      On French referendum over EU constitution
      “If it’s a Yes, we will say ‘on we go’, and if it’s a No we will say ‘we continue’,”

      On the introduction of the euro
      “We decide on something, leave it lying around, and wait and see what happens. If no one kicks up a fuss, because most people don’t understand what has been decided, we continue step by step until there is no turning back.”

      On eurozone economic policy and democracy
      “We all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it”

      Or this gem:
      “When the going gets tough, you have to lie.”

      “Deserters will not be welcome back”

      Or his dictatorship speech where apparently HE personally forbid sovereign country members of the EU talking to the British!

      Is it any wonder there are 15 other countries in the EU considering a referendum?

      Its not hitting the British that will help the EU, which IS THE POLICY THEY ARE ADOPTING, as if that will deter through fear other members leaving, because it will only lead to either a break up of the EU or civil disorder within the EU.

      When democracy turns to dictatorship and rule is by fear, then countries do have to wonder what they signed up for.

      Much easier to consider reform, make EU more accountable to EU residents and sovereign countries having more power rather than Jean Claud’s publicly announced views which do not look anything like being interested in reform, accountability or democracy:
      “We decide on something, leave it lying around, and wait and see what happens. If no one kicks up a fuss, because most people don’t understand what has been decided, we continue step by step until there is no turning back
      “There can be no democratic choice against the European treaties.”
      “Prime Ministers should pay LESS ATTENTION TO THEIR ELECTORATE.”
      “Of course there will be transfers of sovereignty. But would I be intelligent to draw the attention of public opinion to this fact?,”

      Jean-Claud….his intervention made Brexit vote inevitable.
      So ‘happy’ he can hardly stand up straight

      The Czech Minister called for Jean-Claud’s resignation citing him as being responsible for the Brexit, and for my part I concur.

      Every responsible EU member or Commissioner should be seeking Jean Claud’s resignation, and then perhaps reform will mean a new ballot in the UK not on special terms but on better EU terms for ALL members, and then perhaps 15 other countries might not want referendums of their own.

      History shows us that if you subjugate people for long enough, you might get away with it for a while, but even punishing individuals or sovereign nations to deter others by fear has a habit of doing the opposite.

      So get talking to the British now, forget Jean Claud, then you don’t have to talk about Article 50 because any changes prior to that mean the UK has to put any changed EU circumstances back to the people, and that is a far safer way of defusing other dissent in the EU, where that dissent is about reform, and using fear or bias to hit the British, thinking it will deter others is wrong thinking, when we British could easily still remain and with the others not then dissenting at all.

      • nhz
        June 29, 2016 at 4:23 pm

        it’s not just Jean Claude of course, he is only a symptom of the undemocratic EU institutions (EC, EP etc.); the typical ‘faceless bureaucrat’ who come and cling to power in such a system.

        Ditch Juncker and there are thousands of wannabee EC politicians and bureaucrats eager to take his place and implement the same stupid, undemocratic policies. These people should be very afraid of the normal citizens, as long as that is not the case nothing will change in Brussels (or in Washington, for that matter).

        “Every responsible EU member or Commissioner …”

        I ‘m pretty sure you can count them on the fingers of one hand.

        “and then perhaps reform will mean a new ballot in the UK not on special terms but on better EU terms for ALL members, and then perhaps 15 other countries might not want referendums of their own.”

        That isn’t realistic, the differences between EU countries are too big. There could be better terms for all (except the current elites) in a democratic sense, but not when it comes to e.g. economics. Some groups in some countries are living the good life at the expense of others (in other countries) or at the expense of future generations. Negotiate EU terms and some citizens (quite likely large numbers) will be worse off, because the current living above ones means that the EU transfer system allows (for the elites, the government budgets, and much of the ClubMed population) cannot continue.

        • Argus
          July 3, 2016 at 12:50 pm

          Agreed. The EU is a fundamentally undemocratic institution with, in my opinion, a sinister agenda that benefits financial and political elites. It systematically disenfranchises ordinary people and will ultimately reduce them to serfdom.

      • Juergen
        June 30, 2016 at 1:26 am

        Daniel, we certainly have a different attitude what the EU can be good for. Or not. But we certainly agree on one thing: the EU must be reformed. Otherwise there is a very good chance it will be gone in 2 – 3 years from now. But still there are two things I’d like to mention.

        1.) Regarding Brexit: following online-news most posts were calling for sovereignty, slamming ‘eurocrats’. But underneath the bottom-line one could see very clearly that most of the people (especially outside the big cities) just want to have a better life. Decent jobs, well-paid jobs, infrastructure etc. That’s not (more) to have they are blaming migrants for. And migrants for them is the same as ‘EU rules’. Apart from the fact that the UK welcomed especially Poles (according to my knowledge there are rougly 850,000 Poles in the UK right now) just a few years ago for doing minor Jobs, Brits didn’t want to do, I would like to ask you some question: do you really believe that full responsibility for all of those Problems can be addressed to Brussels? Your very own government is completely out of that? And finally: do you believe that it all is going to change just by quitting the EU?

        2.) It’s absolutely impossible to have discussions with most people from the US as soon as ‘sovereignty’ is involved. In this case they’re reacting extremely predictable, robo-like. You can presume I’m following not only one forum of US- or UK-medias. And people in the US seem to be very much black or white when it comes to president Obama and likely successors Trump/Clinton. It’s very aggressive most of the times and very much pro Trump. And I’m tending to compare it to Brexit/Remain. It’s very much the same when it comes down to posts. What I want to say is that I do have the feeling it wasn’t really about in/out EU or is pro/con Trump, but it is about us, the people, vs. them, the establishment.

        The experience that you may elect whomever you want but nothing does ever change. It ueds to be and it will be for the establishment, and for them only. And this movement is in place in almost the whole western world: Greece, Italy, Spain, France, Netherlands etc. I don’t believe (most of) the people are far-right or far-left just like that, but it’s their way expressing ‘we stand up to you’. At first the turnouts were coming down and down but politicians didn’t understand the message. Now it’s the next step. That is what I am seeing. What about you?

    • Jay
      June 30, 2016 at 8:32 am

      A lot of noise about nothing. Best comparison is the hoop la attendant to Y2K – Oh my God, everything will fall apart! and nothing of any significance came to pass – here we go down that road again, media banging the drum and screaming “wolf”. My question is when something significant happens with wolf have been blasted at us so often that we ignore a real event?

  2. PAUL D Schwartzmeyer
    June 29, 2016 at 9:28 am

    I find these analysis by monetary aggregate arguments wanting. The whole idea that the EU was a banking union and not a political union is silly. It was NEVER going to be a political union. It was a banking union because any idiot can set up a banking union.

    The problem Europe has is not that Europe doesn’t have political union, it’s that it doesn’t have a MILITARY. The whole idea of declaring the military as a percentage of GDP is made by a bunch of banker wankers who’ve never been in the military.

    Britain has Europe’s functioning military. Germany can’t go anywhere the US won’t, which is who they had to stay out of Kosovo. (Which even they admitted was humiliating) And I wish anybody luck that’s ready to lock arms and stand hand in hand with the French. You’d be better served to issue your army Nike’s.

    The US, whether we get Trump or not, is going to reduce military expenditure to NATO. There’s no way we’re going to default on pensions and defend latvia.

    Nigel Farage is 100% spot on. The whole Euro argument is being made by a bunch of overpaid wanker sucking bureaucrats. Brexit was all about England being asked to defend the Dardanelles all the while ignoring their own coast.

    • Nicko
      June 29, 2016 at 9:45 am

      Let’s all hope Hillary is elected in November!

      • MrEd
        June 29, 2016 at 11:38 am

        Nicko, please, stop with these facetious comments.

      • Jay
        June 30, 2016 at 8:36 am

        Really ! Lets support nonconformist politicians who think that ANYTHING they want to do is completely acceptable. Well it isn’t. Criminal behavior of a candidate should be grounds for barring them from ever running for office EVER. She mishandled classified information any other person doing so has been prosecuted and removed from their position – this woman proceeds for some unknown reason. This is a breach of the public trust and is supported by the administration.

    • June 29, 2016 at 10:26 am

      Four thumbs up!

    • Alistair McLaughlin
      June 29, 2016 at 2:12 pm

      You’re last paragraph – and your paraphrasing of Nigel Farage – made your post. Well done, sir.

    • Alistair MacLaughlin
      June 29, 2016 at 2:21 pm

      There was a point in Nigel Farage’s address of the Euro Parliament where he said, “Most of you haven’t worked a real job in your life.” Or something to that effect. I nearly lost my $hit when I heard that. Without knowing any personal details about the individual Euro MPs, I’m guessing he is correct 9 times out of 10 with that statement.

      Nassim Taleb came up with a definition for today’s “intellectual class”. He called it IYI – Intellectual Yet Idiot. It is only half tongue-in-cheek, because he means every word of it. Google “Taleb IYI” and read his description in full. I’m willing to bet it’s an almost perfect description of nearly all of the Euro MPs, Eurocrats, and various “policy experts” who have been pushing for further EU integration for the past 3 decades.

      When Nigel addressed the Euro Parliament, he was essentially saying the same thing as Taleb.

      • jan frank
        July 1, 2016 at 8:12 am

        Well Alistair,
        apart from the fact that Farage used extremely offensive language, he apparently didn’t feel the need to check his facts before opening his yap. A very stupid thing to do – if you’re going to be offensive, you had better check your facts first.
        Here follows an article from BBC news that looked at some of the people involved, and what work experience that had before they became MEPs.
        And also what experience Farage had. As such.

    • nhz
      June 29, 2016 at 2:22 pm

      US reducing military expenditure to NATO? Great! The people of Europe don’t want war with Russia, only our US masters and their EU henchmen are trying to poke the Russian bear time and time again. NATO has nothing to do with ‘defending Europe’, it is the army for the US colonial empire, partly paid for by the occupied territories.

      BTW, the EU seems to be planning their own army but I doubt this has anything to do with becoming independent from their US masters because these elites are all the same. It’s probably being planned because that would make it easier to extract huge amounts of money for the military-industrial complex, and because it would be much easier for the bureaucrats than having a dozen of national armies work together for a dubious cause.

      We should make trade, not war.

  3. Petunia
    June 29, 2016 at 10:03 am

    Trumpism is already causing the democrats to open up the goodie bag and begin the great give away. They have their surrogates out this morning suggesting they will wipe away student loans, create job programs, hire young people to fill pot holes, and the list will get longer as the election gets closer. The problem is that the voters already know the democrats will not keep those promises. The crumbs being offered are all because of Brexit. They can see the writing on the wall.

    Brexit voters showed great courage in choosing another path. London will remain the European banking center, because they are better at it, and always have been. The EU will not survive if they have to pay their own way without American military support and cash. The American voter is also ready for another path.

    • Nicko
      June 29, 2016 at 10:23 am

      The Dems have a few things on their side; consistent leads in key swing states, and long term demographic shift that favors Democratic candidates. As long as turnout is healthy in November, the margin of victory should be similar to Obama/Romney.

      • ERG
        June 29, 2016 at 11:10 am

        Interesting comparison. That was Romney’s election to lose and he did just that by not being aggressive enough on O’s horrific record. H will not be so lucky with T.

        I actually like to see the polls with H up by a few percent prior to the election, as I think the polls are going to greatly underestimate T support and having H up by a significant margin will help suppress the dead and illegal vote turnout.

      • Petunia
        June 29, 2016 at 3:58 pm

        Hillary will lose and by a lot.

        • Drumpfabooie
          June 29, 2016 at 11:46 pm

          Please read this, Petunia, Trump anti-establishment candidate? Heh, he’d maybe be a twuck driver if it weren’t for Wilbur Ross Jr. Make America Great Again = his elite buddies make off like bandits. Hillaboo = her elites that bought her make off like bandits. Henry Ross Perot was probably the last chance for Make the People Great Again and we blew it.
          How Rothschild Inc. Saved Donald Trump


        • GSX
          July 1, 2016 at 9:29 am

          No actually Trump wile lost due to the minority vote he lost already. The stats on the increase in the deficit are clear. Under Trump it rises. Period.

          He is an abject failure at business and is an expert in bankruptcy and not success.

  4. June 29, 2016 at 10:15 am

    Excellent analysis!

  5. Kevin Beck
    June 29, 2016 at 10:18 am

    I would hope that Britain holds the upper hand in the negotiations that proceed from this vote, mainly because of my distaste for such para-national entities as the European Union even existing. The same goes for such morally bankrupt institutions as NATO and the United Nations and all their scummy offspring. And especially the OECD, which should be dumped into the trash-bin of history as soon as possible.

    If I were negotiating from the standpoint of the sleaze the occupies the European Union bureaucracy, I would just give them all their demands in the first round, and sign on the bottom line. I would not even counter anything they say in their initial list of demands. Just let them go.

    Incidentally, the name is John MAULDIN, not Maudlin.

    • June 29, 2016 at 10:25 am

      Write on, Kevin!

    • June 29, 2016 at 11:03 am

      Thanks. Auto-correct strikes DQ.

    • d'Cynic
      June 29, 2016 at 11:19 am

      And while we are at it, trim all the parasitic agencies of the UN. There is no haute couture, expensive locale in the world that the UN did not manage to open an office. In fact, they probably hold meets with EU bureaucrats reassuring each other of their relevance. From those high offices they pontificate the masses, and infect the minds of the mindless, and one leader of one of the countries north of the US.

      • June 29, 2016 at 11:36 am

        I agree! The UN is just another control structure.

  6. ERG
    June 29, 2016 at 10:21 am

    Is it possible I’m going to be the first one here to say this?

    Stick a Fork In It, the EU is DONE.

    Functionally, it has already been over for a while. The UK leaving is only the first and more are certain to follow.

    • Nicko
      June 29, 2016 at 10:30 am

      On the other hand, the UK was always resentful of the EU, perhaps this will give room for increase German/French leadership. They are already rolling out the red carpet for London investment houses…

      • Jungle Jim
        June 29, 2016 at 11:03 am

        Franco-German leadership ? Wow, there’s a concept. In both countries the leadership is sitting on a powder keg called immigration. Neither Merkel or Hollande have a lot of room to maneuver. Stay tuned ladies and gentlemen this is gonna be interesting.

      • Alistair McLaughlin
        June 29, 2016 at 2:26 pm

        Hard to tell if you’re being sarcastic or not. Because your comment sounds like the typical Euro babble that has been repeated for decades. The Europhiles can always find positives for more EU integration, and particularly more “Franco-German cooperation and leadership”. I’m pretty sure those arguments are 30 years past their best before date. The future of the EU is toward more decentralization and less integration, not the other way around. It started out as a trading bloc, it needs to return to that.

    • chhelo
      June 29, 2016 at 1:39 pm

      When the EU collapse’s hopefully the UN will as well. Both are not worth a pound of horse manure.

      Trump’s first act should be bulldozing the UN into the East River to build a new office complex for real workers.

      Second act should be to send the 535 members of Congress home and close half of Washington DC down. After all there is nothing they can do there vs voting form their home districts. Unless you call taking bribes work.

  7. nick kelly
    June 29, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    ‘That’s not to say that the UK will not suffer dire consequences if it tries to consummate its divorce from Brussels. Political polarization and instability have already reached levels not seen…’

    In a former post (and in this one) you have criticized the frustrating of democracy by ignoring or working around referendum results to in effect nullify them.
    Now, since ‘dire consequences’ are presumably to be avoided, you seem to be saying that the UK should not consummate its divorce, which means staying married, i.e., nullifying the effect of the referendum.

    • Don Quijones
      June 29, 2016 at 3:27 pm

      You’re putting words in my mouth, Nick. Please stop.

      Not once did I say or even infer that the UK should not consummate its divorce. What I said was there will be “dire consequences” to be paid, as is generally the case when one embarks on a radical 180-degree change in circumstance. All things considered, I believe those consequences are a price worth paying, for two main reasons:

      1) To safeguard the UK’s sovereignty and democracy, two principles that are widely considered to be among the most important and celebrated things European civilisation has bestowed upon the world.

      2) The European Union already appears to be in a fairly advanced stage of collapse and most people in Brussels and in most national governments are in a profound state of denial, clutching at straws as they unravel.

      Granted, the UK has a tough time ahead but it is a country with hundreds of years of experience behind it. It has already been through a hell of a lot worse. Barring a gargantuan manmade or natural disaster, it will eventually bounce back. The same cannot be said of the EU.

      • nick kelly
        June 29, 2016 at 4:12 pm

        I assumed that ‘dire’ meant extremely undesirable, so I misunderstood you if I took that to equal ‘to be avoided’.

        So having dealt with terms- on to cases.
        This ‘loss of sovereignty’ seems to me to be more a mantra- I hear it far more than I hear any examples- they would have to be dire examples.

        As for the shaky condition of the EU- I agree. But how much better is the US- with several cities having gone bankrupt, Puerto Rico bankrupt, Illinois paying its bills with IOUs etc.
        But OK- the US is better than the Italian banks, which thanks to you we know more about.
        As for China- it might be as bad as the EU.

        • nhz
          June 29, 2016 at 4:28 pm

          I doubt anyone know which of the banks – US, EU in general (like DB, CS), Italian, Chinese – are in worst condition. They are all lying through their teeth. When the tide goes out … the central banks are all trying to stop the tide, because they are afraid of what is going to be exposed.

          If I had to guess I think the US financial authorities are best (most experienced) at lying.

  8. nhz
    June 29, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    “As much as it would like to, the EU appears to be quietly acknowledging that there are stringent limits to just how far it can go in its collective punishment of British society, especially given the growing public opposition across Europe to further integration.”

    I don’t think so, all signs suggest that the EU (EP and EC) is going to double down on their position and push even more for a powerful, un-democratic EU super-state before the plebs, and maybe some national politicians, get more restless and might derail their great project.

    BTW, here in Netherlands the daily TV news (the daily government propaganda channel) enjoys spelling out how Brexit could still be avoided, e.g. by tackling the British government and getting new leaders who simply don’t follow through with the referendum vote. If they don’t know how to proceed, the Dutch politicians and media can teach them a lesson in now to ignore EU referenda and still remain in power (they did it again, first in 2005 about the new EU constitution and earlier this year about the Ukraine treaty, which for many Dutch citizens was another opportunity to vote against the hated EU).

    If the UK indeed ignores the Brexit vote, just like the Dutch government and a few other EU countries ignored referenda about the EU, it should be clear to anyone that there isn’t any ‘democracy’ left in Europe, that politics is just a sideshow to suggest the people have influence.

    • Petunia
      June 29, 2016 at 4:04 pm

      The term being used in the US by progressives is “voterless democracy”, how’s that for a laugh.

      • d'Cynic
        June 29, 2016 at 6:45 pm

        If I could define the system of government in the “free” world with regard to trade agreements and globalization among others, it could be this: You can change the face of the government every so often, but the policies stay.

  9. Marietta
    June 29, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    It’s “pries the door open” not prises.

  10. John Doyle
    June 29, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    So far in all the comments here the magic word is missing; Neo-liberalism.
    No remedy will be forthcoming without trashing this poisonous doctrine.
    It’s been rampant across pretty much the entire world, but if it ever had a use it’s way past it now. Basically it robs the poor to pay the rich. The poor were offered a voice with this referendum, and they took it! Dmitri Orlov also thought the old, who knew life before the neo-liberal cancer took hold, also voted for out. Even the Queen was understood to want out. The young he said were in thrall to Washington’s spin so they voted to stay.

    The EU was set up during this time of neo-liberal dominance so it has this built in fatal flaw. The UK was and is an enthusiastic adherent to the same
    doctrine, apparently even egging on the EU to be more neo-liberal.

    So the solution is obvious. Drop all policies with neo-liberal taint in both camps, the EU and in Britain. Restart the process to be inclusive and give all central banks the opportunity to create Euros. Commercial banks do it all the time, but the central banks need it as net credits, not liabilities.

    • nhz
      June 30, 2016 at 3:42 am

      IMHO the social-democrats (Labour in the UK, Democrats in the US, much of the Green movement in Europe etc.) are just a much part of the problem. It is 100% entitlement and 0% responsibility, they turned all the ‘workers’ into small capitalists that try to get something for nothing, get rich at expense of their neighbor or future workers.
      The whole ECB policy that allows nations to live far above their means by printing money and shifting the cost to taxpayers in other nations and the future is much of the same, this sure isn’t ‘neo-liberal’ policy.
      Give all central banks the opportunity to create Euros?? I can predict how this will turn out in the current political situation (that is all about ‘entitlement’). That usually doesn’t work out at all for the little people, just ask the Germans or the people from Zimbabwe or Argentina.

      • John Doyle
        June 30, 2016 at 8:29 am

        I don’t believe you. Neo-liberalism encourages the skewing of wealth towards the top end of town. All dynasties [ours is an industrial one] exhibit this problem as they descend into excess and decadence. We approach the end game. It should be obvious to anyone observant. We live in a “bread and circuses” environment today. Look around you. All shopping malls, museums, galleries, excess everywhere, supported by credit bingeing. When the tide turns and mass layoffs take off, the governments will be forced to step in and pay everyone a pension. It will put off chaos for a while.

  11. d'Cynic
    June 29, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    Just reading that after an EU meeting, his excellency J.C. Juncker announced that the free trade agreement between Canada and the EU can be approved by the EU alone, and does not require the approval of member governments. Germany pretends to be appalled.
    On we go. The British made the right choice.

    • June 29, 2016 at 8:42 pm

      They did. I always held out hope for the nation that instituted the Magna Carta – the philosophical progenitor of our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Now here’s hoping other nations get a whiff of real freedom and throw off THEIR chains.

  12. ML
    June 30, 2016 at 1:58 am

    The EU is most definitely in a weaker position concerning trade agreement. The UK is not only one of its biggest customers, we also pay higher prices for imports. (Nothing to do with exchange rate, butbactual prices paid for finished goods from abroad.) That makes the UK a profitable customer.

    However, UK weakness is that we in the UK would be unhappy if we weren’t allowed to buy from EU, particularly Gerrmany. We’d have to make do with China and USA and elsewhere

  13. June 30, 2016 at 2:07 am

    The FANG Elections (I encourage anyone to re-use this over-used acronym in this context).

    If the UK play their cards right, they’ll be fine – in a couple of years they’ll be in much better shape with a greater deal of flexibility than (most) of the rest of Europe – which will very likely be in a crisis of one sort or another – or multiple.

    The key to how the medium-term future of the UK, EU and indeed World plays out is the results of the FANG Elections coming up.

    France (May 2017) – Establishment Francois Hollande/ Sarkozy/ Juppe v Marine Le Pen (Insurgent)

    America (November 2016) – Establishment Hillary Clinton v Donald Trump (Insurgent)

    Netherlands (March 2017) – Establishment Mark Rutte v Geert Wilders (Insurgent)

    Germany (September-October 2017) – Establishment Angela Merkel v AFD (Insurgent).

    The fact I don’t know the name of the leading German insurgent off-hand points to the fact that the German insurgent candidate faces the biggest uphill battle of all of them.

    It strikes me in the wake of Brexit that if any of these insurgent candidates get up the EU is finished in one way or another – even Trump. His isolationism will help splinter the EU as it’s quite possible he would pursue closer co-operation with countries the UK, and Germany in particular. In fact, he’d really just be incredibly unpredictable in how he dealt with Europe.

    Wilders & Le Pen would both take their countries to an EU IN/OUT Referendum – it’s even possible that if they’re defeated their countries will still be forced to hold these referenda which might be promised as a way of defeating these two candidates.

    Ring a bell David Cameron’s strategy towards Nigel Farage & UKIP….

    How does this matter?

    If the Brits are smart, and I think they are, they’ll hold the invoking of Article 50 over the heads of the EU and issue it at the most opportune time. So when would that be?

    It would be at some point during the elections in the Netherlands and/or France – so March-April-May 2017.

    Why rush before then?

    When Boris gets the job, he can say he needs to organise his negotiating crew and he expects to invoke Article 50 at some point during the next 6 or so months at which point negotiations can begin.

    Holding this uncertainty over the EU as two keys countries get set to go to make or break elections means the EU would really be ready to negotiate, and negotiate favourably with the UK.

    Already one sees this as they want the UK to invoke Article 50 now – before the election season begins in Europe.

    2017 is a make or break year. My guess is it will be a “Break” year.

    The FANG Elections WILL BITE.

    You’ve been FANGED.

  14. June 30, 2016 at 2:10 am

    And the EU will be deFANGed.

  15. GSX
    July 1, 2016 at 9:37 am

    Boris is unemployed. Sorry but no FANG just dang, we have cut our own throats. Simple facts are simple – we live in an inter-connected world. The EU needs the UK and reverse. The posturing will continue until rational minds accept the obvious and continue to be connected.

    Ask any major Brit CEO begging for EU free market access. Follow the money and the politics follow. Simple.

  16. Uni-kid
    July 1, 2016 at 10:12 am


    Simple vote of older vs younger and their desires. Youth lost and so did the UK. Rubbish lies from the Brexit cowards. I wish them shame!

    • Heinrich Leopold
      July 3, 2016 at 11:43 pm


      Young people are not aware that the EU destroys their future by wasting money and loading up on debt which never can be repaid. Please wake up, it is your future.

      The EU bureaucrats take out loans, which they can spend and young people have to pay back. This is the way to have a good life without skills and a lot of effort: Take out a loan and let others pay them back.

      • July 3, 2016 at 11:52 pm

        Precisely. The Washington Post, New York Times, and your own Independent and Guardian seem ignorant of this. Perhaps the ignorance is intentional.

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