Brexit, aka, the UK Shoots Itself


All bad people believe they are in the right, so that doesn’t mean anything.


Amongst my family, an aunt and uncle voted to Leave because they felt like they’d been conned. They voted to join the EEC in the 1975 referendum, but say that the what they were told they were joining isn’t what the EU has become. They identify as British, not as European, and fundamentally do not want to be citizens of a European state. (Their position is the one I have most sympathy for; the main difference between me and them I think is that however big the democratic deficit in the EU, and however much it sometimes sucks, leaving is going to suck far more).

One of my brothers voted Leave as, I’m not sure exactly, an anti-capitalist protest vote. He doesn’t like the globalised corporate world we live in and seems to have chosen the most disruptive option in the hope of change. I really struggle to understand his thought process so I’m not sure I’m even summarising his views correctly.

My Mum voted Leave because of immigration. She probably lives somewhere on the racism spectrum, in the sense that the British identity she inhabits is the one from her childhood, where (nearly) everyone in London looked the same and spoke the same language. She would never be personally racist or discriminatory, or anything other than genuinely nice, but is racist in the abstract; willing to believe almost any Daily Mail story about how they are ripping us off and destroying our country.

The point I"m aiming at is that there are a lot of different reasons for voting Leave. The idea that it’s a monolithic block of 17m racists is nonsense. pwk’s concept of collective guilt is also bullshit; these people didn’t elect a National Front government, they voted their choice on a single one-off constitutional question. You don’t get to invalidate someone’s political beliefs just because you found an asshole who accidentally agrees with them.

And dismissing 17m people as “vermin” is talking like a Nazi. In the end, this is just blowing off steam on an internet forum, but still, why would you want to talk like a Nazi?


We’re not tired of this argument yet?

No, not all people who voted for Brexit or Trump are racists. Some are just dumb and really didn’t understand what they voted for. Some are lazy, and didn’t bother looking at the issue in detail before voting. Some are lacking in empathy, and voted for some economic or some other non-racist reason without even thinking about what it meant for a significant portion of the population.

Yes, all people who voted for Brexit or Trump voted for a racist agenda. Whether they meant it or not, it doesn’t take much of a logical analysis to see that the effect would be to harm the minorities in the population. Anyone doing even the minimal due diligence before voting would have realized that.


I keep hearing about the democratic deficit of the EU and I always wonder what that means. There’s such thing as EU elections, and their results hugely influence EU politics. And yes, that German politicians have a vote on policies that influence UK, Spanish, whatever politics is the fucking point of democracy, that people have an equal say (the same way politicians from those countries have a vote on policies that influence German politics).

A lot of the democratic deficit conversation is structured by a minority protesting that a majority has more influence. The EU means that every country is a minority in itself, and that you have to assume policies that are decided by a wider body, even if you disagree with it, because that wider body is a majority. That is democracy. The opposite is democracy when I like it, self rule (and screw the other people) when I don’t.

I’m OK with European reform. Towards tighter integration and less national sovereignty, so it can actually be truly democratic. From my point of view most of the stupid decisions in Europe come from national governments lately, not from the EU itself. The subject of this thread being perhaps the best example.


Opression is defined by the oppressed, not their oppressors.

Whether or not white Leavers or their apologists think they are racist or not is irrelevant.

And accussing me of being a Nazi for criticising these scum who hate me and my family is utterly offensive. Especially when you are apologising for them from a position of power, privilege and safety.

I didn’t start the race war. They did. I am punching up. I am right. They are wrong.


Hear, hear. If I were our benevolent dictator, the US would join the EU. It is the future, especially so if it manages to transcend nationalism.


I mean, this is some special stuff here. The dog whistles have been tossed for more direct measures.

  1. You somehow equate Trump and Brexit. This just seems like a category error. A vote for Trump was a vote for who governed your country for the next four years. A vote for Brexit was a one-off decision about the constitutional future of the country. It’s logic on about the same level of “Hitler was a vegetarian, therefore vegetarians are Nazis”.

  2. You invoke “empathy”, and yet you can’t bring yourself to imagine that anyone, not a single person, can have had good and valid reasons to vote for Brexit. They’re all either dumb, lazy, ignorant or don’t care about others. So to answer your first question, I am tired of this argument coming from the smugly self-righteous who refuse to acknowledge the possibility that anyone who disagrees with them can have done so in good faith.

  3. The effects of Brexit will of course be universal. I’ve no idea what simple “logical analysis” proves that they’re going to be targeted at minorities.


Ah diddums, you’re offended? I didn’t call you a Nazi, I said you were choosing to talk like a Nazi. Calling everyone who voted one way in an election “vermin” is about as Nazi as you can talk.

Yes. Good argument, well made.

I’m sure there’s a conversation to be had about the threads of racism and nationalism that have surfaced as part of the debate around Brexit, and how violent racists have been enabled by some of the rhetoric. We might even turn out to agree about a bunch of things. But your simplistic rhetoric is what I was responding to, and your justification of it is just as simplistic.


Yet if the point of the exercise was to limit immigration — and it was sold that way, and many indeed voted for that reason — then its broader effects don’t make that base end disappear in a puff of smoke, and I think you have to grant that it was indeed targeted at minorities, e.g. the ones being locked out.


The European Parliament rarely sets the agenda for any of the major initiatives or treaty changes that happen within the EU. Executive action and regulatory detail almost always come from the Council of ministers and the Commission. The process of the EU constitution was a great example of the democratic deficit. It was decided that the EU should have a constitution, but the convention members would be entirely appointed and unelected. Allowing the people to vote on the text of the constitution that was going to govern them was entirely optional; of the 18 countries that ratified it (before it went down in flames) only 2 held referenda. And then what happened when it was rejected? As much of it as possible was packaged up in a treaty and ratified by governments and parliaments with as little democratic consultation as the political elite could get away with.

There’s a long intellectual tradition in Europe of assuming that political integration should happen for our own good whatever we, the people, think. It reminds me a lot of the creation of the ethnic timebomb that was Yugoslavia. A bunch of intellectuals decided, post WWI, that of course all southern Slavs were basically the same and would love to unify under a Serbian government in a country of their own. No-one asked their opinions, of course. Despite decades of propaganda, oppression and education, it turned out the national identities don’t just disappear into a nice friendly collective.


Its not an argument. It what i think and feel as an British Asian of Muslim heritage.

You know, the type of person 5m British Leavers think is a threat to the future of the white race ?

Whats amazing is the Trump threads have the forum united in their opinion of Trump supporters, but their exact analogue in the UK need to be defended as poor mislead innocents?

“We only wanted the trains to run on time, that’s why we voted for him”

Bollocks. I said it before and i said it again. Bollocks to your apologism for your crypto-racist friends and family. Just fucking own what they are.


Parliament is legislative and council executive, yes. The Council represents democratic governments. And makes decisions by majority. Nothing really out of the ordinary from functioning representative democracies.

BS. We are constantly being democratically asked whether we want to be part of the Union or not. People who don’t vote to anti-EU parties in all their national and European elections (and they have a fair share of votes, so it’s not like they don’t have a chance to have their opinions represented, they just are a minority at the national and European level, and thus democracy permits the majority to choose). If Europe is integrating it’s because the people of Europe are constantly voting for pro-EU parties that support integration. That’s democracy. It does not come from up above, it comes from an decision agreed by democratic governments. Saying it’s antidemocratic is bollocks. What’s antidemocratic is not accepting the decisions of the majority.

The EU constitution is one of the big mistakes the Union has done, but it’s also 14 years old. Kind of a dead horse. I am critical of other processes, but most -but not all- of the time my criticism is due to individual governments having too much power. That is, not about the EU forcing decision, but about being unable to, like in the recent immigration crisis.


Also Brexiters: Let’s return to the Troubles.

but don’t call those calling for a new civil war nasty names eh? We must remain civil to the ethno-nationalists or something isnt it?

Hoey is an odd fish, an ethno-nationalist right wing racist sectarian unionist who is currently in Labour. No ones quite managed to explain why she’s a Labour MP other than “pin a red rosette on an inanimate carbon rod and certain constituencies would vote for it”. I’m silently rooting for Vauxhall Momentum and their deselection campaign on this rare occasion.


A united Ireland sounds like a wonderful thing.


I mean in the abstract, I agree. But I’m not Irish*, and though I know the outline of the difficulties I don’t have the personal level of attachment. So all I can say is that having the two parts of Ireland be able to work out a permanent solution to their deep socio cultural divides and unify as a single peaceful nation sounds wonderful.

But I have no idea if such a thing would be possible today, and if it would be desirable at this particular historical moment.

*by ancestry I’m about 1/8, but I hardly think having family come from there 150 years ago qualifies me for insight


Having worked very close (stone throwing distance) to a number of bomb sites thoughout the 80s and 90s I was obviously anti-terrorism, but we’ve had the peace agreement, and people like Martin McGuiness showed that peace and reconcilliation was possible.

and then with the rise of the online right, even before Brexit campaign begun I started running into a lot of Proddies and bloody hell, they are a nightmare. The online Proddies are ultra-hardcore racists and ethno-nationalists, a really bad bunch. The DUP is the political wing of the 17th Century. Homophobic sectarians to the right of Pence and bordering on Dominionism.

and what with the Brexiters openly baiting the Irish with references to famines/occupation/war/oppression and gleefully throwing the GFA to the wolves too its really swung my sympathies the other way, but the biggest driver for that is my exposure to the Unionists.


So you feel that you’re beyond needing to make an argument? You can just assert your truth and everyone must accept it?

They’re people, with individual and complex motivations. You can over-generalise, caricature and dehumanise them as much as you like in your own head. But you’re lying to yourself if you think you’re anywhere near to reality.


I was equating kinds of voters, not the topic itself. But I’ll keep Trump out of the discussion for the sake of simplicity.

What’s a reason that doesn’t fall into one of those categories? That last one is really hard to get around, since there were plenty of people talking about how bad Leave was economically. And I think immigration effects speak for themselves. If you know it’s going to be bad for others and go ahead anyway…well, there’s your lack of empathy. And if you didn’t know, you were ignoring the entire Remain campaign.

Just because it affects you doesn’t mean it’s not affecting someone else as much or more. Minorities tend to be at the bottom of the economic ladder and bear the brunt of the negative effects. And again…immigration was always going to be an outsized minority impact.

That’s a recent article, but there were folks shouting about it during the campaign. And Leave knew it, why else would they be promising more work visas to counteract the Brexit immigration effects?


People don’t get to vote on treaties. That’s part of the point I was aiming at. Governments negotiate and parliaments ratify, but citizens don’t get to vote. Citizens get to face the dilemma at the next general election, of either voting on the single issue of the last European treaty or the other five years of stuff that happened locally that they want to hold their government accountable for.

So the dynamic in the UK for example, is that if Europe was the most important issue to you as a voter, you had no party to vote for in the '80s and '90s. Every party was overtly pro European integration (Lib Dems, New Labour) or were theoretically sceptical, but once in government, inevitably haggled over the next treaty in Brussels and then ratified it in Parliament. You couldn’t get out of that shitty treaty they’d ratified; vote them out at the next general election if you like, but that didn’t un-ratify anything. And whoever you voted for was still going to sign the next treaty.

Then UKP arrived, but you’re still faced with the terrible choice of voting for this single issue party as your government for the next five years just in order to get one that agrees with you on Europe, or stick with voting for a party that might have some minimal competence at doing things like running an economy and other minor details. (Thus 52% of people voted to Leave the EU, but of course UKIP never came close to that in a general election. Farrage as Prime Minister FFS?)

As you said, we got to elect a European Parliament, but they don’t take part in treaty negotiations. National governments got elected, but almost always and entirely for domestic reasons. There wasn’t any genuine democratic accountability at the European level for any of the long-term decisions that really mattered. And that’s going to be true as long as the EU acts like it wants to be a government, but is built as a treaty organisation.

And you dismiss the EU constitution as this historical detail that happened 14 years ago, but it was one of the three most important events in the history of the EU. And just like the other two, citizens went largely unconsulted (and when they were consulted and gave the wrong answer, they were ignored).