Sixty-one words on the Article 50 triggering

I have about five separate subjects for Brexit-related blog-posts that I want to write today. But I am too sad and angry — and, to be honest, bitter — to write coherently about any of them.

So instead here is an artwork based on Banksy’s “Girl With a Balloon”, which I found unattributed in this tweet.

That pretty much summarises how I feel.

8 responses to “Sixty-one words on the Article 50 triggering

  1. I’m just going to say (as a European born in Spain and living in Ireland) that I’m desolated…

  2. As a Canadian, I alwsys just equated Great Britain, the United Kingdom and a few other names together; as a kid I never quite got Wales. I understood Scotland and Ireland were nearly separate entities, but it was one big happy family* (as a kid, you see, I didn’t get the details; later, much Grandmother once let slip when I said somethign about Irish and she noted ‘ooooh, we used to throw rocks at the Irish’ and so on, and I started to get it.) Anyway, as a Canadian, it was always The UK and GB and such were our big brothers. It was one whole.

    I never really revisited the thought until many years later when I tried to make sense of it all as a teen.

    But now .. now.. what does any of it mean? The nomenclature of the area is pretty complicated, and with Ireland and Scotland set for referendums (one or both may rejoin the EU and leave the UK?!) … good Crom, what is going on over there?

    We have Trump to the south, and Brexit to the east .. lordy lordy :)

  3. That’s about the shape of it, Jeff. Pedantically, Great Britain consists of England, Wales and Scotland; and the UK is “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”.

    Scotland held an independence referendum a couple of years ago and voted narrowly to remain in the UK. But now the choice is to remain either in the UK or in the EU — so when the 2nd referendum is held, it seems at least fairly likely that Scots will vote this time to leave the UK, so they can retain their larger trading partner and a more global vision.

    The Irish situation I understand less well, but I will take a stab at explaining it, and hope someone will chip in if I make a mistake. Ireland is an island consisting of two countries: Northern Ireland is part of the UK and has close ties to Britain; and the Republic of Ireland (in the South; also known as Eire) is a separate country with its own government, part of the EU in its own right. (This is why financial companies are looking at relocating from London, England to Dublin, Ireland.) The reason for Ireland being split is that the North wants to be part of the UK and the Republic does not; but now that being in the UK means being out of Europe, there is less incentive for the North to want to remain in the UK and more reason for it to want reunification with the Republic. As people have aged, my sense is that a lot of the historical hostility between NI and Eire has decayed, so reunification is more feasible than it was a decade or two ago — and much more feasible than it was a year ago, when we were all in Europe.

    So there is a good chance (I would guess better then 50-50) that Scotland will leave the UK in the next few years — possibly as quickly as they can, so they can remain in Europe rather than having to go through the process of joining from the ground up. And there is a less predictable chance that Northern Ireland will also leave the UK — to go it alone, or join the EU on its own, or reunify with Eire. Putting it all together I would not be at all surprised if in a few years, “The United Kingdom” is no more (due to the loss of Northern Ireland) and “Great Britain” consists only of England and Wales.

    (Oh, and that have been rumblings from the Welsh assembly about an independence referendum in Wales, too. So it’s possible that Great England, as it will inevitably rebrand itself, will be left alone — maybe the only country in the British Isles that is not part of the EU.)

    Obviously all this is catastrophic for numerous reasons, and you would think the UK government would have considered all of it long and deep before making its move. And you would be wrong; May’s government has not only completely ignored the Scottish and Irish issues, it seems to have gone out of its way to actively antagonise particularly the Scots, denying them debating time in the brief discussion of the Article 50 bill, for example. It’s been so obvious that some people have theorised that Theresa May actively wants to force Scotland out of the UK. I think that is conspiracy-minded, though: following Hanlon’s razor, I think it’s more likely that she is just incompetent: tone-deaf to the implications of her own remarks.

  4. Pingback: Quick thoughts on the future, if any, of the United Kingdom | The Reinvigorated Programmer

  5. Thanks for the explanation; much appreciated :) I wasn’t aware of the intricacies of Ireland or the risk in Wales leaving GB; I really need to invest some time on the history of the region, as its always fascinating. (I’ve always been a bit of a history buff, but sadly, other pursuits always find my interest above that.)

    I just assume its all isolationist false patriotism .. “_they_ need us, but we don’t need _them_, so lets go on our own! ra ra tut tut!”, much like what led to the US’ troubles. If so, then its almost playing out .. ironically, to the point of being alone yet surrounded by ones ‘own people’.

    I shall look up .. what possible benefit did people see in leaving the EU, that compelled even half to vote that way? Were some pains really so nasty as to overcome the perks?


  6. Ireland is very, very complicated. I don’t really understand it myself, and my summary here (and in the followup post) is a gross oversimplification. I also don’t really know how real or immediate the threat of Wales leaving the UK is — to be honest, I suspect a bit of “me too”-ism there, and it feels more like an aspiration than an actual ambition. But time will tell.

    There is a long (way too long) and fascinating article on how the Leave campaign won, written by Dominic Cummings, who was the campaign director for Vote Leave: how the Brexit referendum was won. He is quite straight about the fact that what won it for them was the claim Let’s give our NHS the £350 million the EU takes every week — a claim that the campaign knew was false from the start, and which it publicly repudiated within 24 hours of the referendum result being in. It’s that simple.

  7. Hence the ‘post truth’ reality we live in now; I found it shocking as I thought it was a ‘known thing’ — consider this posting from 2010:

    “In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.”

    In essence.. someone figured this out, and politicians latched right onto it, and that turned into Brexit and Trumps Win.

    If this is a fundamental piece of human nature (much like the ‘want to collect them all!’ behaviour), then it is very easy to exploit, yet very difficult to change, so means the abuse will consider for some time; ultimately, the ‘good guys’ may need to deploy trickery as well, which is appalling.

    s/government/The Circus/g

    (with a nod to John Le Carre)

  8. I think that is exactly right. I hate the idea that we will have to abandon the use of facts in public discourse, and limit them to private contexts, if we’re to achieve anything. But that is how it looks.

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