“Why’s it taking so long? We should just leave!”

I’m not going to advocate remaining in the European Union in this post[1]: I just want to address one specific thing that emerges from the present omnisuperubercatastroshambles+++, and that is the understandable impatience about Brexit that we hear a lot in vox pops: “Why’s it taking so long? We should just leave!”

‘We should have left on the day after’: Colette Rayner in Hastings. Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian.

Here, through the medium of parable, is the reason why, even though we may well leave the EU, we’re not “just leaving”.

Suppose your family lives in a flat that’s rented from a housing association. And you have come to feel (rightly or wrongly) that it’s not a very nice flat, and that the association interferes too much. So you discuss it as a family, and you think about all the lovely houses out there that you could live in, and eventually you decide to leave. So far, so good.

You can just leave. You can walk out the door the day after making the decision, as Colette in Hastings would do. But if you do that, you’re homeless. You’ve got nowhere to sleep tonight. That’s obviously not a very sensible thing to do, so you take a bit of time to decide first where you’re going to when you leave.

So you give the housing association two months’ notice of your intention to move out, and set to work looking for somewhere better to live. Now maybe at this point it all works out fine, and you find a place that you like more at the same price, or cheaper. If so, then great: you move out at the end of the two-month notice period, or even earlier if you and the housing association agree, and move into the new home. Job done.

But suppose you find that it’s harder than you expected? What if you find lots of homes you like, but they’re all unavailable for one reason or another? Maybe they’re already occupied, or they’re free but the rent is much more than you can afford. Or maybe there are subtler problems, such as the home you like being in the catchment area of a very poor school.

Maybe it’s even worse than that: maybe when you look into the options, you find that all you can afford is a bedsitter in a rough neighbourhood. You try to get the best deal you can, of course, but as the end of the two-month period approaches, you have to stop considering different options and pick one specific home — the one you’re going to move to.

You might feel that, given more time, you could have found a better option. But you can’t just keep trying indefinitely: you gave notice to the housing association, and the deadline to leave is coming up fast. You have to pick one of the actually available options and commit to it — otherwise you’ll be out at the end of the two months anyway, with no home at all.

At this point, you would select the best of the available deals, and consider carefully whether it’s better than what you already have — the imperfect housing-association flat. You would consult the family again and try to reach a consensus. As a group, you might end up thinking “This isn’t as good as we’d hoped for, but it’s still an improvement”, and leave. Or you might think “Actually, what we have now is better” and decide to stay. (Happily, you’ve discovered that you have the right to unilaterally revoke the notice that you gave.) In the latter case, you probably would not be too impressed if some of your family members started to go around chanting “Leave Means Leave” and insisting that you’d already had your discussion and reached your conclusion, and it would be undemocratic to ask the family whether it wants to go ahead with the move.

And this is very much the situation that the UK finds itself in now. There are things about the EU that we don’t like, and so the nation decided to leave it and find a home (i.e. trading partners, customs agreements, regulatory regimens) elsewhere. As the end of our two years approaches, we have whittled down the options to one that is probably the best we’re going to get — that is, Theresa May’s deal.

In this situation, we have two reasonable options as a country. Decide to take May’s deal (move to the new home, which may turn out to be better or worse than the present one), or decide that now we know what the options are, we want to stay where we are after all. There is also a third option floating around out there — leaving without a deal — but no-one who’s actually paying attention to the issues[2] wants the UK to be homeless.

To me, this is why there’s a cast-iron case for a #FinalSay referendum (or, as it’s rather gormlessly known, a #PeoplesVote). We now know what we didn’t in 2016: what home we could move into if we leave the EU. It’s May’s deal, or something very very close to it. So it’s time to sit down as a family and say “This is the new flat, here are its pros and cons. Do we want to do this?”

 


Notes

[1] My position on Brexit — that I voted Remain and would still like us to stay in the EU — is well known to regular readers, and all my reasons for wanting to stay in the EU seem more solid than ever to me. But I think that’s irrelevant to the present post. If I were a Leaver, I would not be wanting the Government to “just leave”, but to know where we’re going first.

[2] I’m going to hazard a smug liberal elitist guess, and say that Colette from Hastings has not been paying close attention to the isues. This guess is based partly on the fact that she wants a no-deal Brexit despite one of her sons living in the EU.

 

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60 responses to ““Why’s it taking so long? We should just leave!”

  1. In some ways, the dedication the Hard Brexit mob have shown towards barefaced lying is so audacious it’s almost admirable. Remember Liam Fox saying ““the free trade agreement that we will have to do with the European Union should be one of the easiest in human history”? Or Michael Gove promising “the day after we vote to leave, we hold all the cards and we can choose the path we want”?

    Now such grandiose promises have run afoul of reality, our hands have been found to be decidedly cards-bereft and not a single one of that mob has an effective plan for what to do now, of course that results in stasis. (May’s strategy has effectively been to defer things until she’s unable to defer them any more. We’re seeing the results of that right now.)

    Understandably, given this, people have become sick and tired of all this noise without motion. (I’m certainly one of them.) So what do they do – with breathless chutzpah – but try and gameplay that weariness, by pretending their plan is the simplest and most straightforward one of all?

    Except the reason their plan doesn’t take long to explain is that it isn’t a plan. It’s just the pretence you don’t need one. No deal is not a clever new kind of a deal. It’s the absence of a deal. And it’s an elementary fact of life that you can’t “just leave” anywhere. Leaving one place always involves going somewhere else.

    But, and this is the twist bit in my comment, is one of the main reasons I’m against a second referendum. The way things stand I can’t imagine No Deal not inserting itself onto the ballot. And then support for it being widespread among a weary public.

  2. So what do you advocate, Gavin?

  3. Apart from not being here in the first place?

    I can only snort with derision every time I hear the tiresome “people have spoken” cliche. Other policies are consistently way higher in public opinion than the piddling majority for Brexit. Look at polls over renationalisation of the railways, for just one. Ignoring the will of the people is the way the system works, day in and day out. Business as usual. What point is there in pretending otherwise?

    On the other hand the self-serving cowardly custards that we have for politicians are clearly so cowed they’re going to go along with the “this time it’s different, because of reasons” thing. So we’re going to get Brexit.

    In which case, short answer is the route of least harm to most of us. Which is the Norway option. It has disadvantages. So did staying in. But No Deal is all disadvantages.

    The slightly longer answer is that you deal with a problem by looking to it’s cause. For a long time the EU was a subject of consternation among the Tory right, but of marginal interest at best to the general public. Within a fairly short time it became a hot topic for everyone, while still being discussed in exactly the same terms as it was when it was just the Tory right. It’s a little hard to tell for sure, as the public debate’s so dominated by shouty racists, but the “divided country” cliche does seem to have a fair amount of truth to it. You’d need to look at that.

    But the main Remain argument, “people were misled”, doesn’t begin to cover it. That only raises the question of how they were misled. Ask any confidence trickster, people only ever take on lies because on some level wanted them to be true.

  4. I think that “people were misled” (while true) is a weak position to adopt, for the reasons you give.

    On the other hand, “People have changed their minds (in part because some of them now think they were misled before)” is very strong — unanswerable, to my mind. The only case to be made for proceeding with Brexit is “the population used to think it was a good idea, even though polling shows they now do not”. That would be an unspeakably dumb reason to do anything, let alone something so catastrophic as this.

    I also agree with you that the Norway option might be the least devastating possible end-game, given where we are now. The problem with it is that it is in every respect either the same as we have now (SM and CU membership) or unambiguously worse (no say over law-making) — whereas harder forms of Brexit have elements to them that can be spun as advantages, however nebulous (e.g. “we can make our own trade deals”). So I think it’s going to be very hard to persuade people that it’s a good move, since anyone who prefers Norway over No Deal is likely going to be prefer Remain over either.

    (Of course, as you say, not being here in the first place is the best solution.)

  5. Given the almost complete collapse of the Leave case (“we could demand almost any deal we want”), isn’t the remarkable thing how few people have changed their mind? It’ s another feature of confidence tricks, that the successful ones get people so invested in them they want to believe in them, even after they’ve been proven to be confidence tricks.

    Second referendum basically comes down to “it must have been a moment of madness. Give people a second chance and they’ll be more sensible.” I basically come down to – you have to look at what drove them so mad in the first place,

    Norway’s preference to No Deal is assuming that remain’s now off the table. (Which is almost exactly how it happened to Norway, except there “go in” went off the table.)

    “We can make our own trade deals” is the argument of someone thrown out of their house saying “I can now live anywhere I want”. You can, or can try to, spin anything. “Yes I lost my arm but now I don’t need to cut my fingernails.”

  6. Agree with pretty much all of that, but it’s amazing how much traction “We can make our own trade deals” has — you hear it now all time in vox pops, from people who never in their lives had the slightest interest in international trade until a few months ago. It’s one more example of how much better the Leave people are at marketing than we are. “Take back control”, “You lost, get over it”, “Control of our money, our borders and our laws”, “Make our own trade deals”: all either meaningless or valueless, but with huge meme-power.

  7. I think we might have quite different ideas who “we” are, Mike! Also on the effects of marketing. Yes, the Leave campaign was run by self-serving, two-faced spivs like Johnson and Gove. But the Remain campaign was run by Cameron and Obsborne. I think you’d struggle to describe them as two individuals devoted to truth and dignity, if I’m honest. The thing that needs explaining is how one side’s spinning worked, and continues to work, more than the other.

  8. Oh, exactly! I’m not for a moment saying anything positive about Cameron and Osborne here: if anything, their involvement in the Remain campaign probably hindered it. There is no question that the Leave campaign was much more effective: partly because the case for “Something’s got to change” is always appealing on the face of it, and partly because it was very effectively run by very clever people with absolutely no scruples. If we do wind up with a Final Say referendum, one of the big goals has to be keeping toxic personalities like Cameron, Osborne and Blair far, far away from it. It will need to be visibly headed by someone untainted by previous ghastly mistakes.

  9. So you, effectively, would give the EU a veto over any member country leaving it?

    Because following your logic, any time any country decides to leave, the EU just has to refuse to give it an acceptable deal (which it can do, unilaterally, becaus eit always takes two parties to be willing to negotiate in good faith to come to an agreement, wheres it only ever takes one to scupper any agreement, especially if the status quo benefits that party so they have an incentive to so scupper) and said country would have to rescind its notification of leaving.

    Therefore, following your logic, no country can ever leave the EU unless the EU decides to let it go (by offering it an acceptable deal).

    But if that is so, how can the EU ever claim in the future to be a voluntary alliance of sovereign nations? It would have proven once and for all that the alliance was not voluntary (because the nations cannot choose to leave, and if you can’t choose to leave even though you want to, because the other party won’t let you, then you are not staying voluntarily) and the nations are no longer sovereign (because they cannot exercise their sovereignty to leave).

    The nations of Europe would exist in the same relationship to the EU as the states do to the USA: not fully independant countries but mere povinces, subject to a jurisdiction which overrides their own, and never allowed to secede.

    Would you join a club on the basis that in order to cancel your membership you had to come to a deal with the club and, if they wouldn’t offer you terms you would accept, you had to keep paying your membership fees?

    Would you take a job if in order to resign you had to negoiate an acceptable Withdrawl of Labour Agreement?

    ‘I’ve been sexually harassed, I quit.’

    ‘Okay, here’s the Withdrawl Agreement, it says we get to keep all your pension contributons and we’re not negotiating any futher.’

    ‘That’s unacceptable.’

    ‘Looks like you still work here, then. See you on Monday. Wear something skimpy.’

  10. So a quick summary of Brexit so far would be…

    Some right wing Tory nuts: “We should leave the EU. We will be able to keep the bits we like of being a member, but get rid of any other bits we choose.”

    Half the country: “But how will you get them to agree to that?”

    Tory nuts: “Silence! Traitors! You should believe in your country!”

    Other half of the country: “Okay then, if we get a better deal.”

    The EU: “No, of course you can’t have a better membership deal than being a member! Whoever heard of a club that offered a better deal to non-members than members? Sacre bleu! Non!”

    Other half of the country: “What’s happening about that deal you promised us?”

    Tory nuts: “We won’t be keeping our promises. And that’s the EU’s fault!”

    Um, no. No it’s not. No. No, no, no, no, no. No.

  11. Actually, no, I think a quick summary would be that the people voted to leave the EU, and then the commentariat and political classes (encouraged by the EU) got all obsessed about this deal, as if we couldn’t survive without it, in a way that the majority of the people, who do not in fact think that Britain is a rainy cake-filed fascist island that can’t survive in the world on its own but needs to cling to the coat-tails of Nanny Brussels, but rather see that most of the nations in the world are not in fact part of the EU or any other supranational bloc and are in fact doing quite well for themselves anyway, and don’t see why we can’t be one of them, can’t quite understand.

    Basically, a large proportion of — maybe not most, but not far off — continuity Remainers seem to either hate the UK and think it’s a land full of would-be Nazis who have to be ruled by foreigners for their own good because they are too stupid and/or evil and/or racist to be allowed to govern themselves; or they think that the UK can’t economically survive without the EU because we’re all too lazy and, again, stupid.

    And then they wonder why, when they went around telling people they were stupid and lazy and racist and evil, the people didn’t vote for them. Funny that.

  12. So would you be good enough to answer two questions, SK?

    What was the slogan on the side of the bus again? Was it “we must vote to leave the EU, even though they will clearly punish us economically until we’re worse off than we were, but it will be worth it in the long run (probably), really it’s all about sovereignty.” Because that’s not the way I remember it.

    And what if the negotiations had come out the other way round? Which of course they could never have, because what was being asked for was completely incoherent. But, just for the sake of argument, say they had? Would you now be saying “by virtue of the EU making it easy for Britain to leave, they’ve proven what decent chaps they really are, so now we can leave I want to stay?” Or is this “heads I win, tails you lose”.

    Actually, three questions. Who are “the political class”? And why are they something separate to “the people”?

  13. So you, effectively, would give the EU a veto over any member country leaving it?

    H, I can’t begin to imagine how you managed to infer anything remotely resembling that from anything I’ve ever said, here or elsewhere. I’m starting to think you’re not arguing in good faith.

  14. So would you be good enough to answer two questions, SK?

    Gavin, do you mean H?

  15. H, I can’t begin to imagine how you managed to infer anything remotely resembling that from anything I’ve ever said

    Well, your argument seems to be that we need to cancel leaving the EU (by the mechanism of a Final Vote in which we vote by a majority to Remain) because we cannot leave without a deal because that would be terrible, and the deal that is on offer is so bad that we would be better off remaining. Is that not your argument, boiled down?

    Have I got that wrong?

    As for the questions, to whomsoever they are actually addressed: I didn’t vote Leave because of what was on any bus (my mind was made up long before any bus was painted) and I don’t think anyone else did either, so that’s irrelevant and I honestly don’t know why people keep bringing it up.

    And no, if the EU had been all sweetness and light, I wouldn’t say ‘of course we should stay’ because the principle that no foreign parliament should be able to control what laws we can or cannot make, and no foreign court should be able to strike down our laws, would still apply. And that’s a far more important principle than economics.

    Third question: the ‘political class’ is basically anybody who is professionally involved in politics, so MPs, political journalists, SpAds, anyone who works for a political party, etc etc. They are separate from the people because their views and concerns are wildly different form those of the majority of normal member sof the electorate, who basically tune out of politics between one vote and the next and couldn’t name you more than three members of the cabinet and two of the shadow cabinet, if that.

  16. So the official Leave campaign ran roadshows round the country in a bus with a slogan in giant letters on its side, but this slogan had nothing to do with the Leave campaign? How did that happen? Did they just borrow a bus which happened to have that on its side anyway? Well, life is full of coincidences, I suppose.
     
    Allow me introduce you to some elementary rules of logic and consistency. Please don’t dismiss them out of hand just because they seem strange and unfamiliar to you. If your argument is going to be (I paraphrase) “I am against international agreements as a matter of course”, you cannot go onto specific instances of EU behaviour, then retreat again back to the first proposition when it gets tricky for you. EU actions are either part of your argument or they are not, you can’t pick and choose as it suits you.
     
    And of course you then try the same trick over the Leave and Remain voters. The Leave voters… good salt-of-the-earth Englanders that they are… were not influenced by the Leave campaign, so it doesn’t matter that Leave lied. But The Remain voters, the other half of the country, were all led astray by… what were they called again… “the political class” who… what do they do again…  “hate the UK and think it’s a land full of would-be Nazis.”
     
    Anyway, the “political class”…
     
    If the “political class” is “anybody who is professionally involved in politics”, then do people who are professionally involved in dentistry make up a dentist class?
     
    And how many “MPs, political journalists, SpAds, anyone who works for a political party” do you imagine they are? You’ve said they make up the majority of Remainers. So that’s about a quarter of the country. You think there’s sixteen and a half million SpAds and journos? I suppose that might explain the shortage of NHS workers. There’s not enough non-SpAds left.
     
    And if “the political class” are the enemy of “normal” people, then why is there a political crisis over Brexit? Or is this some special definition of “political class” where the career MP Anna Soubry belongs to it yet the career MP Jacob Rees-Mogg belongs to “the people”?
     
    By this point it is surely obvious to anyone who is not in advanced denial that Brexit has been a creation of the Tory party. As already said, polls over the longest period showed consistently that the EU was not a high priority for people. But it obsessed and divided the Tories. Brexit is like a fistfight which broke out in Tory Party HQ, spilled out into the street then managed to get a load of bystanders involved. They’re the ones who got us into this mess. They’re the ones to blame.
     
    ”Gavin, do you mean H?”
     
    Same difference, innit?

  17. So the official Leave campaign ran roadshows round the country in a bus with a slogan in giant letters on its side, but this slogan had nothing to do with the Leave campaign?

    Of course it had something to do with the Leave campaign, but the Leave campaign had very little to do with people voting to leave because I’m pretty sure most people who voted to leave had decided to do so before the campaigns even began. I know I had decided as soon as I saw the derisory response

    If your argument is going to be (I paraphrase) “I am against international agreements as a matter of course”, you cannot go onto specific instances of EU behaviour, then retreat again back to the first proposition when it gets tricky for you

    I’m not against international agreements; I’m all for international agreements between sovereign states. I’m only against the UK becoming part of a federal entity akin to the USA, with a federal parliament and federal courts that can overrule decisions of the UK Parliament like the US Supreme Court can overrule decisions of, say, the California legislature.

    International agreements are great: that’s how we get NATO, Five Eyes, etc etc. But there oisn’t a NATO parliament and NATO doesn’t set itself up as judge over member states’ laws. With the EU on the other hand, the treaties say that when EU law and national law conflict, EU law is explicitly given precedence.

    But The Remain voters, the other half of the country, were all led astray by… what were they called again… “the political class” who… what do they do again… “hate the UK and think it’s a land full of would-be Nazis.”

    Oh no, I don’t think the Remain voters were ‘led astray’. For a start I deliberately wrote ‘continuity Remainers’, ie, the ones who are still banging on about it, which is a small (but very vocal) minority of the 48% who actually voted Leave (maybe, like, a million out of the 16 million or so who voted Remain, but that million are all on Twitter).

    And secondly I don’t think the continuity Remainers were ‘led’ to hate Britain, I think they formed that hatred off their own bat. See George Orwell on the anti-patriotism and xenophilia of the British intellectual classes, etc.

    do people who are professionally involved in dentistry make up a dentist class

    I wouldn’t get that specific. There’s certainly a medical class, of doctors, dentists, nurses, paramedics, those who work in the NHS, etc, that is distinguishable. Just as there’s an ‘academic class’ who work in universities, and a ‘technological class’ who work in science and IT and engineering, etc.

    And how many “MPs, political journalists, SpAds, anyone who works for a political party” do you imagine they are? You’ve said they make up the majority of Remainers.

    I don’t think I did say they make up the majority of Remainers (either Remain voters or continuity Remainers), did I? Where did I write that? Can you quote it to me?

    And if “the political class” are the enemy of “normal” people, then why is there a political crisis over Brexit?

    Um, the very definition of a political crisis (one sort anyway) is where the ones in charge have very very different views to the majority of the people, and try to impose those views on the people. Is it not?

    By this point it is surely obvious to anyone who is not in advanced denial that Brexit has been a creation of the Tory party

    I didn’t know the Tory party had seventeen million members!

  18. I mean, when it comes right down to it, if people did vote to lave because of the Leave campaign’s promises, and those have been shown to be lies, why do we not see hundreds of thousands, millions of Leave voters demanding a second referendum? Why is every single person calling for a second referendum a sore loser who voted Remain the first time around? Why do almost all Leave voters seem totally happy with their decision?

    (Some polls do show a small shift towards Remain, but that usually isn’t people changing their minds, it’s people who didn’t vote last time saying they would this time and would vote Remain. the people who actually voted Leave are almost without exception sticking with their choice.)

    Answer: because they didn’t vote Leave because of the Leave campaign, so no matter how much the Leave campaign may have lied, that makes no difference because that was not the basis on which they made their decision.

  19. ”…most people who voted to leave had decided to do so before the campaigns even began. I know I had decided as soon as I saw the derisory response”
     
    And where might this staggering insight into the minds of more than seventeen million voters come from, SK? A psychic link imbued in you through the action of other people putting a cross on a piece of paper in the same place as you? An ability to see into an alternate dimension where the vote was run but with no kind of Leave campaign mounted at all? Presumably handily labelled ‘Control Dimension’ at various points?
     
    Strangely, however, not all the other Leave voters have got your memo about it all being about “sovereignty”. See this clip of a Leave campaigner going on at some length about the supposed Brexit dividend.

    https://youtu.be/_6PcPVkP-RY

    (Note to all: This video has a blatantly racist coda, made by the poster not the caller in the clip. I’d just ignore that if I were you.)

    ”I’m not against international agreements; I’m all for international agreements between sovereign states”
     
    First, this is a dodge. You’re not telling us why you think the elementary rules of logic and consistency only apply to other people. Is it because the Greeks had such a role in shaping them? Does that make them a bit suspiciously continental to you? So if we start making sense the next thing we’ll have is baguettes?
     
    Second, in trying to mask one mistake you’re making another. International agreements will always limit the sovereignty of nation states – by definition. Being a member of NATO, for example, involves, among other things agreeing to make financial contributions. In some cases it means allowing foreign troops on your land. There’s nothing wrong with this in itself. Arguably, it’s no different to me not playing loud music late at night because of the neighbours. But it’s an obvious fact.
     
    And talking about consideration for others, before you make these comments could you think a little about my personal health? When you started quoting George Orwell I laughed so much I nearly lost the ability to breathe. Lummee, SK quoting Orwell, that’s Orwellian in itself… now I’m starting to laugh again… quick, move on…
     
    ”the 48% who actually voted Leave”
     
    I had thought the Leave vote as being slightly higher.
     
    Just a piece of handy advice. Get a post-it note, write on it ‘a profession is a different thing to a class’, and stick it next to your computer screen. To… you know… avoid future embarrassment.
     
    ”Um, the very definition of a political crisis (one sort anyway) is where the ones in charge have very very different views to the majority of the people, and try to impose those views on the people.”
     
    Um, no. That sounds more like a social crisis, or possibly a popular revolt. It is strange indeed that you have the ability to read the minds of seventeen million voters and yet the inability to take in the most basic facts about Brexit. Let’s recap for those who don’t actually follow the news…
     
    Had the “political class” been united against Brexit, they would never have countenanced a referendum in the first place. That’s pretty obvious, really. But the Tory party were deeply divided on the subject, hence the offer of a referendum in an attempt to lance the boil. (Well, that and Cameron not imagining he’d ever have to honour his promise.)
     
    The opposition  are similarly divided. Some Blairites are clearly stoking the issue in a bid to get rid of Corbyn, but the division seems real enough. The ones in charge have very, very different views to each other. That’s the point here.
     
    Unless of course you’d like to actually answer my question about whether Anna Soubry is part of the “political class” but Jacob Rees Mogg isn’t.
     
    ”if people did vote to lave because of the Leave campaign’s promises, and those have been shown to be lies, why do we not see hundreds of thousands, millions of Leave voters demanding a second referendum?”
     
    Yes, good question. In fact the very question I was asking before you got here.

  20. And where might this staggering insight into the minds of more than seventeen million voters come from, SK?

    Well, I at least have direct insight into the mind of one person who voted leave, whereas you apparently have absolutely none.

    You’re not telling us why you think the elementary rules of logic and consistency only apply to other people

    Nothing I have written has been illogical in any way.

    (and in general actually it’s the anglophone schools of philosophy which have stuck to proper solid logic, and not got sidetracked into idiotic madnesses like structuralism and critical theory like the continentals).

    Being a member of NATO, for example, involves, among other things agreeing to make financial contributions. In some cases it means allowing foreign troops on your land. There’s nothing wrong with this in itself. Arguably, it’s no different to me not playing loud music late at night because of the neighbours.

    Whereas being in the EU is like giving the neighbours a say over what colour you paint your living-room and what furniture you’re allowed to buy.

    Get a post-it note, write on it ‘a profession is a different thing to a class’, and stick it next to your computer screen.

    So… people who work in the same areas don’t tend to have similar world-views? Really? You’re going with that?

    Unless of course you’d like to actually answer my question about whether Anna Soubry is part of the “political class” but Jacob Rees Mogg isn’t

    They are, obviously, both part of the political class. But one represents the mainstream opinion of the political class and one is seen by most of the political class as a wild-eyed lunatic. That is the point.

    In fact the very question I was asking before you got here.

    Well, you have your answer now, then. Because that’s not what it was about.

  21. Anyway, the main point is: if you say we can’t leave without an acceptable deal then you are effectively allowing the EU to veto our decision to leave, because all they have to do is not offer an acceptable deal and then we can never leave.

    And if you say that the EU has veto power over whether its members can leave then you can no longer say it is a voluntary association of sovereign nations, because it’s no longer voluntary if you can’t leave when you want and you’re no longer sovereign if you can’t withdraw (the NATO treaties, for example, don’t prevent countries leaving, and indeed that has happened before, as I’m sure you know).

  22. Nobody is claiming that we literally can’t leave without an acceptable deal. If we couldn’t, then indeed (the rest of) the EU would be able to veto our leaving. But the claim actually at issue is that in our actual situation we would be stupid to leave without an acceptable deal, because doing so would put us in a terrible position. But if the consequences of staying in the EU were so bad as to outweigh the consequences of leaving with no deal, then of course we could (and should) do that if (the rest of) the EU tried to stop us leaving by offering only unacceptable deals.

    What follows from “leaving without a deal would be awful” is not “the rest of the EU has a veto on our leaving and can therefore abuse us as much as it wants” but “being in the EU would have to be extraordinarily bad before leaving with no deal was a good way to deal with the situation”.

    (Of course, maybe being in the EU is extraordinarily bad. But I don’t find it plausible that anything like a majority of the country thinks so, for two reasons. First, every poll I’ve seen polls that asks a question like “better to stay in the EU or to leave with no deal?” or “best to stay in, leave with the deal May negotiated, or leave with no deal?” finds that leaving with no deal is substantially less popular than staying in. Second, the actual referendum result was very close, so for anything like a majority to think leaving with no deal was better than staying in there’d need to have been hardly anyone who thought being in the EU was bad but not that bad, but (a) it seems unlikely that opinions were so polarized and (b) it seems especially unlikely given how much prominence the Leave campaign and big-name Leavers gave to the idea that negotiating a good deal would be easy.)

    So. What follows from Mike’s position is not that the rest of the EU has, or should have, some kind of absolute veto on our leaving. It’s that we shouldn’t leave with no deal unless things are really bad, which means that what the rest of the EU could do to stop us leaving is (1) refuse to make a reasonable deal and simultaneously (2) make sure things aren’t really bad. That would mean that we could find ourselves in a situation where we’d rather be out but were never quite willing to leave because the pain of leaving outweighed the pain of staying. And, sure, that would be a shame. But that sort of thing really is common to every alliance or association or commitment a country, or a business, or a person, makes, and it’s part of the cost you pay for the benefits you anticipate from being in, and I don’t see anything wrong with pointing it out.

    A marriage is (usually) a voluntary association of free individuals, even though getting divorced (especially if the other partner is uncooperative) is horrible enough that some people prefer to remain married even though they aren’t very happily married. The EU is a voluntary association of sovereign nations, even though leaving the EU with no deal would be horrible enough that some people who’d rather leave it would prefer to stay in than leave with no deal.

  23. ”Well, I at least have direct insight into the mind of one person who voted leave”

    So it was the first of my two options. I thought it might. If seventeen million people voted the same way as you, they must have had exactly the same thoughts in their heads as you while they were doing it. It’s difficult to answer this argument, but then that’s because it isn’t one. It’s more of a pathology.

    Anyway, as already established, our sample as it stands shows that 50% voted leave because of sovereignty and the other 50% because they thought there was some dosh in it. Admittedly the sample size isn’t particularly large at the moment, currently running to two. Gallup seem as yet unconcerned. But that’s still twice as big as SK’s. And all we really need to do, in order to prove him wrong, is show that Leave voters weren’t some amorphous block. (Though why such an obvious point should need proving is beyond me.)

    Through NATO there are military bases in Britain which not only contain foreign troops but are officially foreign soil. In fact the foreign soil of a country whose political system you’ve repeatedly said you’re opposed to in these comments. You want to tell us how much of Britain is designated foreign soil because of EU membership?

    ”So… people who work in the same areas don’t tend to have similar world-views?”

    SK, please get another post-it note and write on it ‘the definition of a class is not people who have similar world-views’. No, not over the first one, next to it. Yes, like that.

    ”They are, obviously, both part of the political class.”

    Finally! Blimey, was that really so hard?

    Tedious as extracting this has been, it has proven my point. People latch onto the term “political class” because of some confused belief that once it’s usage has been established everyone who belongs to it will then obligingly start thinking identically. They then find people who do think that way (here Remaining, or possibly just opposing No Deal), and so assign them to that “class”. Anyone who doesn’t fit the model can’t possibly belong to that “class”. Even when they do, really they don’t. It’s classic reverse thinking. It’s No True Scotsman in its purest form.

    And then, after all that, we get…

    ”Nothing I have written has been illogical in any way.”

    …which is even funnier than the Orwell thing! I really don’t know whether to reply by pointing out this is the most elementary logical fallacy of all, or just with risible laughter. Let’s imagine I did both.

  24. When it comes right down to it, if people did vote to lave because of the Leave campaign’s promises, and those have been shown to be lies, why do we not see hundreds of thousands, millions of Leave voters demanding a second referendum?

    We do. See https://twitter.com/RemainerNow

  25. H, for avoidance of doubt, are you SK?

  26. Aaanyway … on the idea that the EU is not a “voluntary membership” organization if it won’t offer a sufficiently sweet deal to member who leave …

    Let’s go to the widely-used gym-membership analogy. Suppose I am a member of a gym, and I feel that it charges too much for what it gives me. If I decide to cancel my membership and leave (which means leave), then I am no longer a member. The gym is not obliged to offer me some new kind of bespoke deal where I pay (say) half as much and only have access to the exercise bikes and the cross-trainer. And the fact that it doesn’t offer me such a bespoke deal doesn’t in the least make it “not a voluntary membership organization”. It is merely an organization which I am at liberty to be a member of (subject to the usual rules) or not. The EU is exactly the same. The fact that the UK wants a deal doesn’t oblige it to anything. That a deal has in fact been agreed speaks well of them; that our Parliament has rejected it arguably does not speak well of us.

  27. You want to tell us how much of Britain is designated foreign soil because of EU membership?

    You mean when we’re in the EU, over how much of British soil does EU law have primacy over UK law? Well, that would be ‘all of it’. Which is why we’re leaving, obviously.

    SK, please get another post-it note and write on it ‘the definition of a class is not people who have similar world-views’.

    Um, the definition of a class is ‘things which are in some relevant way similar’. Hence you have the class of equilateral triangles, or the class of polynomial algorithms, or the class of sea-dwelling mammals.

    So a class of a people is those members of the people who are in a relevant way similar, such as working in the same field and having similar world-views.

    That is in fact the definition of a class.

    Suppose I am a member of a gym, and I feel that it charges too much for what it gives me. If I decide to cancel my membership and leave (which means leave), then I am no longer a member

    Yes, that’s fine, and that’s what we’ve done. What I don’t understand is people who then pop up and say ‘Oh no but we can’t really leave because then we won’t get to use the swimming pool whenever we want! Clearly you didn’t understand that when you voted to leave! You absolutely must make alternative swimming arrangements before you are allowed to leave! If you can’t find another swimming pool, or negotiate an agreement to use this one, then you must rescind your decision to leave immediately!’

    Um, no. We’re leaving. If that means we don’t get to swim for a while, fine.

    That a deal has in fact been agreed speaks well of them; that our Parliament has rejected it arguably does not speak well of us.

    Given that the deal proposed was effectively that we keep paying them all the membership fees but get restricted access to the facilities — ie, it was strictly worse than remaining a member— then rejecting it was absolutely the right thing to do, and so now we have to leave with no deal.

    This could all of course have been avoided if they had been willing to compromise back in 2015, and allow the UK to roll back on the ‘ever closer union’ and repatriate at least some powers, thus setting a precedent that powers once handed to the EU could subsequently be reclaimed by nation-states (and properly reclaimed for good, not just ‘delegated back’ as if we were some subsidiary part like one of the devolved nations of the UK). Had they done that I might well have voted to remain. But they didn’t, they are clearly unwilling to compromise and allow not just a two-speed but a two-direction Europe with some nations heading for ever-closer union but some loosening their ties, and so we are where we are).

    (And of course if you want to point out that it’s their club and they therefore get to set the rules about whether to allow ‘EU a la carte‘, which is basically what we want, you are absolutely right, but then it is our decision as to whether we are happy to be part of that — and we’re not.)

  28. What I don’t understand is people who then pop up and say ‘Oh no but we can’t really leave because then we won’t get to use the swimming pool whenever we want! Clearly you didn’t understand that when you voted to leave!

    That is exactly the case: because all of the people campaigning for us to leave the gym did in fact promise that we’d have access to the swimming pool.

    That may not matter to you, of course: if you don’t like swimming you’re quite at liberty to decide that leaving the gym is still the right course of action. But all the people who do like swimming, and who accepted the arguments to leave the gym because they believed what they were told about the pool, have every right to be miffed at how things have turned out.

    So what is the honourable thing to do? Ask those people whether they still want to leave the gym now they know what it entails.

    This could all of course have been avoided if they had been willing to compromise back in 2015 …

    I’m going to pass over the section: not because I agree with you (I don’t), but because I don’t think it’s all relevant to the present discussion. Your reasons for voting Leave still seem good to you, and on that basis you should vote to Leave again if we get a Final Say referendum. The issue here is all the people who feel they were misled in the 2016 referendum, and who now — understanding the issues much better — want to change their vote (in either direction).

  29. ”You mean when…”

    …and with those three words we dip below even the level of logical fallacies. We’ve now hit a basic failure even to comprehend the way words work. No, I don’t mean the thing you want me to mean, SK. I mean the thing I mean. The question’s clear enough. Now it’s up to you to answer it.

    There’s also the question you dodged. If everyone who voted Leave did so because of “sovereignty”, how come there are Leave voters who say otherwise? (Yes, my argument’s based on a single source. So’s yours.)

    When you’ve answered those questions I’ll explain to you what you don’t understand about social class.

  30. The issue here is all the people who feel they were misled in the 2016 referendum

    Yep. Both of them.

  31. No, I don’t mean the thing you want me to mean, SK. I mean the thing I mean. The question’s clear enough

    Is it? I mean, you used the phrase ‘designated foreign soil’ which I don’t find clear at all. What does it mean to be ‘designated foreign soil’? What laws designate some soil, foreign? What Acts of Parliament or uses of Royal Prerogative, or treaties, or other declarations, statutes, laws or ordinances define some places (which places?) as ‘foreign soil’? What theoretical, legal and practical consequences follow from this idea of ‘foreign soil’?

    Tell me what you actually mean by ‘foreign soil’ and I can answer your question. Otherwise, well, I’m afraid it remains, despite your protestations, stubbornly unclear.

    When you’ve answered those questions I’ll explain to you what you don’t understand about social class.

    I hope you don’t mean the Marxist idea of social class. I don’t care what that is because Marxism is bollocks.

  32. The issue here is all the people who feel they were misled in the 2016 referendum

    Yep. Both of them.

    There are demonstrably rather a lot of them.

  33. There are demonstrably rather a lot of them

    Reeeeeeeally?

    Almost everyone I’ve read going ‘They didn’t put that on the side of a bus!’ or similar is someone who voted Remain, is annoyed they lost, and wants another chance to vote the same way again. Very very few of those who actually voted Leave have changed their minds, as far as I’m aware.

    What makes you think there’s more than a dozen or so?

  34. What makes you think there’s more than a dozen or so?

    This, for example.

    I also commend to you this excellent (and short) thread.

  35. But if you prefer data to anecdote, the most recent YouGov poll on leaving the EU, from 16th January, shows 48% for Remain, 38% for Leave, plus some don’t-know categories. Discard the latter, and we have a 56%-44% split in favour of Remain. That’s obviously a swing of 8% since the 2016 referendum, and a three times bigger majority than in that referendum. Given that totally number of votes cast in 2016 was 33 million, that 8% swing represents 2.64 million people who have switched from Leave to Remain. (Or, of course, more than that number, but with a corresponding number switching in the opposite direction.)

  36. I read SK’s latest diatribe, but could only think of this…

  37. That ‘Remainer Now’ website has, what, a couple of dozen people claiming to have voted Leave but changed their mind, at most?

    And quite a lot of them are, well, shall we say, ‘unconvincing’ and read far less like someone who really did vote leave and has changed their mind than a Remainer’s twisted idea of what such a person might be like. Take, for example, ‘Simon’:

    https://www.remainernow.com/thoughts_and_experience_of_former_leave_voters_now_remainers

    (whose twitter link at the bottom of the post seems to be broken?)

    — can you read that and work out why ‘simon’ voted Leave? I can’t. Is there any evidence that ‘Simon’ (if that’s his real name) actually did vote Leave?

    What I’d really like to see is someone with an actual history, such as a web-log with articles from before the Referendum saying they were going to vote Leave, and then form after saying they’d changed their mind. Or a working Twitter link of the same thing.

    Otherwise, well, forgive my skepticism.

    Discard the latter, and we have a 56%-44% split in favour of Remain. That’s obviously a swing of 8% since the 2016 referendum, and a three times bigger majority than in that referendum. That’s obviously a swing of 8% since the 2016 referendum, and a three times bigger majority than in that referendum

    So, if you look at that PDF you linked to, page 1, the third section, headed ‘[EXCLUDING WOULD NOT VOTE AND DON’T
    KNOW]’, you’ll see that of those who voted Leave in 2016, 12% would vote Remain now; of those who voted Remain in 2016, 8% would vote Leave now.

    So that’s a net 4% swing, not 8%. Which, it’s true, is not nothing, but is hardly the massive desertion of the Leave side that you are claiming. It is in fact very close to the 3% margin of error for opinion polls.

    If there really were masses of people regretting their vote wouldn’t we see a larger net swing than a measly 4%? Wouldn’t there be at least a few actual convincing accounts that didn’t read like they were written by Remainers?

    Wouldn’t you be able to drum up even just one personal conection who had voted Leave and now regrets it?

  38. Oh and

    seems to have joined Twitter in March last year, and first posted with an anti-Brexit post less than a month ago, and been consistently Remain even since. So where on earth did you get the idea that this person is a regretful Leaver?

  39. Oh no, fair dos, apparently Danny Dyer (apparently off of television? I can’t say I’d heard of him) has said he voted Leave and now regrets it. So there does exist at least one regretful Leaver.

    All you need to do is make him the centre of your campaign. Sorted!

  40. … Actually, I’ve changed my mind. I’m all for a second referendum now.

    Six weeks tomorrow, same deal as last time, same question, everything. And tell you what, we’ll make it double or quits: if Leave wins again then we leave on schedule a week and a day later, no deal, straight out and into the big, wide, cold, hard world on our own. But if Remain wins this time, we scrap the pound and join the Euro, join the Schengen area, and replace all the road signs with kilometres. Heck, we can even switch to driving on the right.

    And all the campaigning the Leave side will do is just play that clip of Donald Tusk talking about a special place in Hell, over and over and over again.

    You up for that?

    I reckon Leave wins with 70% of the vote but you may think I’m being too cautious.

  41. Well, H, since you disregard data and ignore anecdote, there’s evidently nothing left for it but you to continue believing that all the 2016 Leave voters continue to want to Leave.

    Of course, there is one way to find out for sure.

  42. nothing left for it but you to continue believing that all the 2016 Leave voters continue to want to Leave.

    Clearly they don’t all want that. A trivial number of them have changed their mind, just like a trivial number of Remain voters have moved to Leave (you do keep ignoring them, why?).

    But there’s been hardly any net change, is my point. Just 4% in the poll you yourself cited.

    As you say though: let’s find out. For the heads of the official Leave campaign this time I nominate Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker and Guy Verhofstadt. If anybody can cause a massive swing to Leave every time they open their mouths, it’s those three.

    I am quietly confident.

  43. “Just 4% in the poll you yourself cited.”

    What was the victory margin in the last referendum again? Oh yes…

  44. Marvin Arbiton

    Reading the responses to the above report on this site – proves that the leave supporters have the stronger argument and that the Remain supporters seem to have their hands over their ears while shouting DAh! De!Dah! because the facts are not what they want to hear – just as they did for the referendum. The announcement for the Leave/Remain referendum may have been announced a couple of years before it – but the Leave campaign had been going on for almost twenty years before that – and if the Leave supporters did not know what they were getting into after discussing it in depth for that length of time, then the Remain supporters are being very arrogant in assuming that they know more.

  45. Reading the responses to the above report on this site – proves that the leave supporters have the stronger argument.

    It proves no such thing.

  46. What was the victory margin in the last referendum again?

    A swing in an opinion poll and a vote in an election are very different things, as I’m sure you know.

    Anyway, you reckon, don’t you, that if you have a vote and the margin of victory is 4% or less then it’s invalid? So if we do have a re-run and this time Remain wins by 4% then we have to have another one a couple of years later, don’t we, to check that Remaining is still what people want? Or is it best of five?

    (I mean, the alternative is that you just want to keep having referendums until you get the ‘right’ answer, and then stop, but that couldn’t be right, could it?)

  47. “A swing in an opinion poll and a vote in an election are very different things, as I’m sure you know.”

    An election is also a different thing to a referendum, from what I hear.

    “you just want to keep having referendums until you get the ‘right’ answer, and then stop”

    Maybe you want to do a bit of scrolling up and reading the things I’ve actually written on this thread. Because you’ve completely and utterly failed to take them in so far.

  48. Maybe you want to do a bit of scrolling up and reading the things I’ve actually written on this thread. Because you’ve completely and utterly failed to take them in so far.

    Oh, yeah, I just did have a look back up. Could you explain to me again how much of the UK is ‘designated foreign soil’ and what on Earth that means? I’d forgotten all about that but you’ve reminded me you never answered.

  49. Let me help with your basic reading comprehension skills, SK.

    “you just want to keep having referendums until you get the ‘right’ answer, and then stop”

    …when my first comment made in this thread was…

    “I’m against a second referendum.”

    You’re nothing but a laughing stock.

    We’re done here.

  50. Oh, I can’t be bothered to keep track of which Remainers are using which tactics: who wants a second referendum, who wants to extend article 50, who just wants to flat-out tell Leaver voters they were idiots; you all have the same goal of overriding the referendum result. The rest is piddling detail.

    So about this ‘designated foreign soil’ you reckon exists. Where is it? What designates it so? What effect does this designation have?

  51. “I can’t be bothered to keep track” should be the official motto of Leavers. Lack of attention to detail, and of respect for existing information, has been the hallmark of the movement from the very beginning.

  52. Lack of attention to detail, and of respect for existing information, has been the hallmark of the movement from the very beginning.

    If you say so.

    But frankly, detail is rather beside the point. It’s become quite an existential thing. Back in 2016 I was rather of the opinion that the referendum was quite a stupid idea: why did we have to have an in-or-out vote? We have the 2011 Act which mandated a referendum on any treaty which transferred further powers to the EU. Couldn’t we just sit where we were and then leave, or move to a lower tier of integration, when the time came?

    But now… well, the best analogy I’ve read is that it’s like thinking you’re a guest in someone’s house only to find out when you go to leave that they have locked the door.

    We can’t leave because our economy is so entangled with the EU’s? Well it’s not going to get less so. We can’t leave because so many of our laws and regulations are intertwined with those of the EU? Well they’re only going to get more intertwined the longer we stay in. We have to leave sometime; if it’s painful now (and it is) it will only be more so the longer we put it off.

    We have to get off the train whose destination is a federal state sometime, because being in a federal sate is totally unacceptable. I thought we still had time and chances to get off that train, but the behaviour of the EU and of die-hard Remainers has convinced me that if we don’t get off now then that’s it, we’re stuck and we’re going to end up integrating further and further into the EU.

    So we have to get off now, whatever the economic cost (and yes it may be high).

    Because otherwise we never will.

  53. If there are so many people who voted Leave but now regret it… why couldn’t the campaign have found one of them to front their video, rather than asking somebody who actually voted Remain to pretend?

    https://order-order.com/2019/02/14/peoples-votes-bregret-poster-boy-actually-voted-remain/

  54. This is a poor analogy on so many levels, but just to continue it for one question: the equivalent of the backstop would be to sign a rental contract Forever! Would you still stay?

  55. Well, there is really no analogue to the backstop in this simplified analogy, because there is nothing in it analogous to the Irish situation. If I had the patience I could probably work something out — maybe the family’s daughter has a boyfriend who lives on the same estate and she needs to stay close to him but also close to the family. Then the backstop would be something like an agreement that the family moving has to live somewhere within a couple of miles until the daughter learns to drive. But at this stage, the analogy is getting stretched to breaking point, and isn’t really illuminating anything any more.

  56. If I had the patience I could probably work something out — maybe the family’s daughter has a boyfriend who lives on the same estate and she needs to stay close to him but also close to the family

    Well, if you want it to be analogous to the Irish situation, then the daughter’s boyfriend is a psycho who has threatened to firebomb them if they move, and the correct solution is for the police to bang the boyfriend up and throw away the key, and the family to move wherever they damn well please.

    (In this analogy the boyfriend is the IRA).

  57. I thought it was pretty obvious that the boyfriend was Eire, not the IRA.

  58. I thought it was pretty obvious that the boyfriend was Eire, not the IRA.

    Well, Eire will still be right next door, so assuming we’re fine with the idea that anyone who starts damaging any border infrastructure that might appear is a common criminal to be locked up, what’s the problem with ‘the Irish situation’ again?

  59. I think I must be misunderstanding you, H. You seem to be saying that the solution to “the Irish situation” is to erect border infrastructure, wait for people to destroy it and lock them up. But that can’t be what you’re saying.

  60. You seem to be saying that the solution to “the Irish situation” is to erect border infrastructure, wait for people to destroy it and lock them up. But that can’t be what you’re saying.

    Why can’t it?

    I mean, ideally, the solution is to erect border infrastructure and then people abide by the law and don’t blow it up; but if they do, they are breaking the law and so the law should come down on them like many tonnes of bricks.

    What you absolutely do not do is not erect border infrastructure because you’re scared of peopel damaging it. That would be to give in to threats of violence or criminal damage, which we do not do.

    That is what I’m saying.

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