Brexit, aka, the UK Shoots Itself


What non-EU treaty has the British public been allowed to directly vote on? All I see are devolution and territorial integrity referendums.

While I think direct democracy is something we could use more of, we are representative democracies and direct vote is highly unusual. There’s a point to be made that direct voting on complex issues might not express the will of the people, since most people will be uninformed and vote without full understanding. I mean, we are on a Brexit thread.

This sounds like the UK political system (or at least the spread of viable parties) is crap. It does not say anything about the EU, though, just about the UK.

In this regard the democratic deficit of the EU is pretty similar to that of the UK or any other member state for that matter. Should it change? Perhaps, but leaving the EU due to “democratic deficit” when the country leaving is perhaps less democratic in its structure (first past the post) is ironic. Or fallacious. Probably fallacious.

You say people vote national governments exclusively on national reasons. Well, people do have strange voting customs (certainly, stance towards EU integration is for me one of the major issues I would deny a party my vote for), but if a population is not taking into account the stance of a government regarding the international organization to which they belong, it doesn’t mean people don’t have a choice, it means people are ignoring it, due to stupidity or lack of information.

Tl,dr: there’s not so much a democratic deficit as a lack of voter interest.


But they’re okay with racists. So fuck them.



Because when you’re talking about the economic effects you seem to want to paint every Brexit voter as some asshole voting to hurt other people. But that’s not what happened. They voted to hurt themselves. Money isn’t always the most important issue when identity and autonomy are on the table.

Valid reasons to vote Leave (off the top of my head)?

“I voted to join the EEC in 1975, and 40 years later it’s turned into something that I never wanted and have never been consulted about as a citizen.”

“I feel British, I don’t feel European. I do not want to be part of a European state which I feel no connection or loyalty to.”

“Europe constantly tends towards protectionism, heavy regulation and dirigisme. The short-term costs of leaving will be outweighed by the long-term costs of staying.”

Not being a Leave voter, I’m sure I can’t successfully speak for all of them.


Or they suffer because they sabotage (actual) liberal policy at every step and are also incompetent. (Or unemployable.)


All of those reasons, I would argue lack empathy given that Remain pretty clearly called out the damage that Brexit would do to the British economy. Just because you feel the short-term costs outweigh the long-term doesn’t mean everyone else does, particularly those minorities who would be most affected by the immigration restrictions.

Having said that, I don’t expect you to agree. If you think those are legit reasons and the people who chose them were justified in doing so, then there’s not much I’m going to say that will convince you.


I’m a leaver and I think all of those reasons are valid.


It strikes me that they all beg one question or another. What has the EU become which is undesirable? For whom will the costs of staying outweigh those of leaving? And how is the middle reason different from “I’m one of us, not one of them?”

As reasons, they’re remarkably empty of content. They amount to ‘I don’t like the EU’, which tells me almost nothing.


I’m all for more integration.

One world government, army currency/economy limits human violence, dominance, antagonism and oppression to separatism and tribalism. It’s why Im puzzled at the shit your pants outrage you get from the Brexiters at even a sniff of a EU Army. Im like, erm doesnt a single European army guarantee no more European wars? It’s almost as if we learned a lesson from millions of war dead.


The question was (paraphrased) “do you want Britain to be a member of the EU?”. They are all straightforward answers!

I think there are maybe a few Americans on this forum who are seeing this issue through Trump-coloured glasses. This is not an issue that suddenly emerged in 2016, that can be easily fitted into some perceived global trend. It’s a debate, a source of political pressure, that’s been building up for at least 25 years (from around the time of the Treaty of Maastricht).

I’ve already written about how there’s been little practical democratic accountability or control of the process of transferring sovereignty from Britain to the EU. I (unscientifically) feel that one element of the Brexit result has been a kind of collective emotional response. Something like; “so here we are living in a supposed democracy, slowly handing over power to a new federal state that’s also supposed to embody democracy and human rights. And this is only the second chance we get to vote on the process, in 41 years? Yeah, fuck you!”


Well, no. The question was this one:

The question assumes there are valid and invalid reasons, where I assume things like racism would be considered invalid reasons.

But the reasons you offer are all incomplete. The speaker who doesn’t like what the EU has become might not like it because it’s full of Muslims. The speaker who doesn’t feel like a European might mean I’m not a bloody Pole. And the final reason leaves open, as I said, the question of better for whom?

They’re just forms of “I’m against being in the EU.” Well, sure, we got that part, but the question was why you’re against it, and whether that’s a ‘valid’ reason.

Not me. I see the EU through the rose-colored glasses which show me it’s the most successful anti-war project in the history of modern Europe.


Personally, I don’t see a problem with being against the EU, for whatever reason. Depending on what it is I’ll judge you and place you in a category that might be more or less nice, but hey, we all like and dislike stuff for reasonable and unreasonable reasons.

The problem is disliking the EU while trying to extract advantages from it / influencing it to your own purposes. That I have an issue with. Want to be outside the EU? Fine, lots of countries are, but none of this be outside when it suits us, inside when it doesn’t.


I’m pretty sure most of us posting in this thread are Europeans.

And from an European point of view, this indeed has parallels to the Trump vote. There are real grievances people could have had against the US political establishment and the impoverishment of parts of the population that made parts of the Trump platform (as before the election) somewhat not totally unreasonable. As there are legitimate (if hipocritical) reasons to vote for Brexit.

The problem is that you don’t get to choose which parts of a platform you support. By casting your vote you are supporting a platform no matter what, and doing a personal balance of pros and cons. Both both platforms used xenophobia as their main argument to convince voters and thus voting for them does align you to that viewpoint, or at least means you care less about it than about the other issues in the platform you support, which is splitting hairs, imho, and doesn’t really change a lot how I personally see those half hearted supporters.


Yup, a vote for Brexit is showing wilful blindness to the fact it was an ethno-nationalist xenophobic /racist project. Anyone who voted for other reasons was “I know the implications of this but I voted because I like autobahns and trains to run on time” , but I think more importantly, anyone who still supports Brexit now, in the light of everything revealed over the last few years, is an out and out racist, easily the equivalent of one of Trumps current supporters.

I’m just disappointed the Brexiters are tolerated here in a way the Trump supporters aren’t. American racists are bad, but British racists aren’t? :/


There’s a big difference between electing representatives and voting on a single issue referendum. Talking about a platform in the context of a referendum seems nonsensical to me. The whole point of a platform is to give an idea of what the people you elect will do once in power.

I mean you make a great case for how supporting the rights of palestinians is antisemitic, or how supporting Northern Ireland remaining part of the UK is inherently reactionary, or supporting Spanish territorial integrity is an endorsement of police violence.

Also since you seem so keen to talk about platforms, on the EU issue, we know we can’t trust the platforms of euro-enthusiasts because they will promise one thing, and then pursue further EU integration anyway. We’ve seen no sign of a change of heart since 2008: Labour MPs who promised to implement Brexit in 2017 are now actively trying to stop it.


We’re back to the lazy logic of “Hitler was a vegetarian, so all vegetarians are Nazis”. And a vote in the referendum is a binary yes/no decision about the constitution and governance of the country, not a vote for a party platform.


You seem to be claiming about 75% of British voters are either racist or antisemitic then. It seems to me you are promoting hatred by encouraging a manichean us-vs-them worldview. Doesn’t that make you like Trump?


Populism is a bitch.

I’ve already linked the story showing a third of Brexiters sit in the “we must protect white culture from the darkies” camp. That’s 5,000,000 supremacist level racists at the heart of the Brexit project.

And again no one seems to have a problem calling out tens of millions of Trump supporters for what they are. I dont see you in the Trump threads defending his supporters for their choices, and for their solidarity with ethno-nationalists and the far right.

The only reason Brexiters aren’t chanting “build the wall” is we have the English Channel. No difference between them and the Trumpalos. None at all.


They were intended as one-sentence labels or pointers to what are, obviously, more complex ideas. Because I didn’t have time to write an essay, and I’m not sure anyone here wanted to read one.

And one of the points I was trying to get at was that the EU Referendum asks what is a fundamentally simple question about identity. Ask a resident of Mexico City if he wants to be governed from Washington. “I’m not a fucking American” is absolutely a valid answer. You might think he’d be better off economically if Mexico was part of the US. You might think he’d experience better government. You might see larger, high-level federations as a force for peace. But national identity matters to people, sometimes more than money, and I don’t see how a democracy can function if there isn’t a shared sense of identity and culture. If the Germans don’t really feel a sense of shared identity with the Greeks, they’re going to tell them to fuck off when the time comes to ask for real help.


No, the bad analogy would be “Hitler was a vegetarian, so voting Nazi means I’m ok with vegetarianism”. Or, the leaders of the Brexit campaign are espousing xenophobic messaging, so voting for Brexit means I’m ok with xenophobia.