BREXIT - more good than bad or more bad than good?

  • #351
Vanadium 50
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Has anybody else referenced "too dumb to vote
Yes, explicitly and implicitly:

Strictly speaking that's not true. I think the proposed remedy - certainly the one proposed by the Liberal Democrats (a major political party, or at least they were before the last elections) was to vote again, presumably until they got the right answer. Then they could stop.

There is some precedent to this - Ireland in 2008.
 
  • #352
Jonathan Scott
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I'm less concerned about gullible voters than about blatant misinformation. That statement on the side of the bus saying we send the EU £350 million a week was never anywhere near true, and the government's own statistics proved it. That would have been our cost of membership before substantial rebates (which are applied before sending anything) and totally ignoring any benefits which we received in return, including EU financial subsidies, even before counting the indirect benefits in free trade, shared resources and so on.
 
  • #353
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I think the proposed remedy - certainly the one proposed by the Liberal Democrats (a major political party, or at least they were before the last elections) was to vote again, presumably until they got the right answer. Then they could stop.

The idea was more to confirm that the country wanted the Brexit that was on offer. In some ways it was no different from any two-stage process like selling your house (putting it on the market does not commit you to accept the first or even the best and final offer). I thought it was logical and democratic to throw it back to the people to decide. The idea, however, never seemed to gain any momentum. The Labour Party put this in their manifesto. I.e. a second referendum.

The Liberal Democrats proposed simply to cancel Brexit (by revoking article 50).

The mood of the country generally seemed to be: we had the referendum on Brexit and it was then up to Parliament to determine how to do Brexit, with no more referendums. When eventually Parliament was deadlocked, there was a General Election. Then it was back to Parliament, although this time with a decidely pro-Brexit Government (which we hadn't had before).

In this respect, I would say, Parliament has eventually fallen in line with the Brexit majority:

2016: All major parties opposed Brexit

201`7: A previously Remain Prime Minister and a divided Government and divided Parliament

2020: A Brexit PM, Brexit Government and Brexit-supporing Parliament.

That's why there is no going back now.
 
  • #354
Jonathan Scott
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The Brexit-supporting parliament is largely another manifestation of Boris's excessive power. If it had not been for Tory MPs joining the vote against Boris, we would already have had the chaos of an unprepared hard Brexit back in October. And he expelled them from the Tory party for that! Some of them were re-admitted after supporting his Brexit withdrawal deal, and others stood down as MPs.
 
  • #355
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I think the proposed remedy - certainly the one proposed by the Liberal Democrats (a major political party, or at least they were before the last elections) was to vote again, presumably until they got the right answer. Then they could stop.
My emphasis.
This was never the idea as far as I understand. The entire point was to have a confirmatory vote on the final withdrawal agreement precisely because "Brexit" was not well defined in the referendum. The vote would (unlike the referendum) be binding and pre-approved by parliament (but subject to a positive outcome of the confirmatory vote).
 
  • #356
epenguin
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And the smaller political subdivisions mean that the constituents are much closer to the politicians who represent them.
I can empathize with the UK farmers who struggled with the mountains of regulations that came from the faceless bureaucrats in Brussels. Furthermore, the EU Constitution is problematic, both in its length and its complexity. Per this article, https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/hard-look-european-constitution, the EU constitution is 70,000 words, or 15 times as long as the US Constitution, which fits in a small booklet that can easily fit in one's shirt pocket. The complexity arises in its murky delineation of powers vested in the Union versus those of the individual countries. Quoting from the EU Constitution, it also states that
From the linked article, "That sentence suggests that Brussels might exercise some competence outside its exclusive authority if some undefined body decides that the EU could do it better than a member state."
For information, the principle you quote here is known as 'subsidiarity'. There had been indeed objections to what was perceived as an arrogation of powers to 'Brussels'.

You cannot contest that there are perfectly good reasons for tackling many problems at the level of the European Union. Climate and other environmental issues for instance or fisheries. Climate does not stop at national barriers, nor do fish. Talking about fish, in today's world individual European countries are little fish in the field of trade agreements, currency, and indeed foreign and defence policy - and science. It makes sense that it can act as a Union in such fields and a long list of others. In some of these fields it has been undoubted success story e.g. trade and science. (though of course as soon as you say anything like that there is somebody who comes along to say they object to this thing, that thing is not perfect, the other thing was done wrong. Apparently when you run the affairs of whole continent some things are not perfect, or at least not everybody agrees they are. Whaddayaknow?)

Anyway because of these objections or fears, the principle of subsidiarity, that only things that need to be run/decided at European level and not lower level are to be so run/decided was introduced. Every piece of European legislation or regulation now contains paragraphs setting out the reasons for which European level is appropriate.Every judgement of the European Court of Justice contains a paragraph setting out why it is the competent court. (In most cases this is pretty obvious. From time to time they rule that they are not the competent court for the issue brought before them.)

We seem however to be set for explosions to take place in some of the above-mentioned fields e.g. fisheries and trade as the two sides UK and EU now square off before a a maybe final agreement in a year or so's time.

If you find the European Constitution 'murky' that may be because there isn't one! There was an attempt to create one but it did not get through referendums (your citation is previous to that) and in its place there are treaties which are indeed (and deliberately) murky for the non-lawyer. However the setup contains plenty of perfectly clear elements (well apparently! :oldbiggrin: ) such as the European Charter of Rights https://www.europarl.europa.eu/charter/pdf/text_en.pdf

I have heard before your holding up as an example the American Constitution, e.g. an article in the Economist when the EU Constitution was being discussed held up the US one as model to be followed. Johnson is saying the same thing around now (We don't need no Constitushun!). He was arguing the other day we don't need EU rules and standards on environment, maternity leave or whatever because 'ours are better than yours :oldtongue:'. I don't think there is a chance of persuading 27 different nationalities of legalistic-minded continentals to do without written rules, prescriptions and binding undertakings just because of Johnson's pretty face.
 
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  • #357
Vanadium 50
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Back to the bus for a moment.

Why didn't Remain just paint their own buses with "It's more like 170M GBP, and we get a bunch of swell stuff for it?" In most elections in most countries I've seen, when one side says something misleading, the other side calls them on it, so the voters have heard both positions. What usually doesn't happen is that the other side holds on to it in their pocket to use later as a reason to doubt the election's legitimacy.

But suppose the 350 number were correct. Would a reasonable position by "At 170 Remaining makes sense but at 350 Remaining is too expensive?" If the answer is "no", then why complain about the bus message? If the answer is "yes", how can one then say that the position "At 100 Remaining makes sense but at 170 Remaining is too expensive, therefore I will vote Leave" is unreasonable and unjustifiable?
 
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  • #358
Jonathan Scott
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Why didn't Remain just paint their own buses with "It's more like 170M GBP, and we get a bunch of swell stuff for it?"
The amount was not the issue. The whole idea of being able to just redirect our whole EU contribution to the NHS is so far from reality that attempting to argue with the detail is pointless. But the quoted fact was blatantly wrong, and even some of the Leave people were clearly embarrassed about it from the start.
 
  • #359
PeroK
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At least some of the money ought to go to Welsh farmers who voted leave and are now concerned they will lose their EU subsidies!

I saw an interview with some and it was priceless. They said they'd vote leave again tomorrow, but wanted assurances the UK governmebt would pay them equivalent EU subsidies.
 
  • #360
Orodruin
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I saw an interview with some and it was priceless. They said they'd vote leave again tomorrow, but wanted assurances the UK governmebt would pay them equivalent EU subsidies.
This reminds me of an interview with an elderly couple in a coal mining town in the US. They were happy that coal mining was going to come back with lots of jobs and that medicare was going to be removed. The man suffered severe chronic lung problems after working in the coal mine for all his life and was highly dependent on medicare for the medicines he needed to live.
 
  • #361
Jonathan Scott
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At least some of the money ought to go to Welsh farmers who voted leave and are now concerned they will lose their EU subsidies!

I saw an interview with some and it was priceless. They said they'd vote leave again tomorrow, but wanted assurances the UK governmebt would pay them equivalent EU subsidies.
The UK government has recently agreed to provide £3 billion in subsidies to match the lost EU subsidies at least for the next couple of years. This presumably creates a slight complication for free trade, in that technically the UK needs to get approval from the EU to subsidise any commercial enterprise, although the fact that it was previously subsidised by the EU makes it likely to be acceptable!
 
  • #362
Vanadium 50
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The amount was not the issue.
The whole idea of being able to just redirect our whole EU contribution to the NHS is so far from reality

The bus doesn't say that. I'm not even sure it implies that. It said "We send the EU 350 GBP a week; let's fund our NHS instead. Vote leave. Let's take back control." To me, this doesn't say every penny saved goes to the NHS. It is a statement of relative priorities, and about who should set them.

In the 80's there was this poster:



1*-rr1gqZLA3_nVxceyzgibw.png



Is this intended to be literally true? Or is it again statement about relative priorities?

Finally, in 2016 the NHS budget was about 2600 GBP per week. In 2023, it is forecast to be 3300 per week. That's more than 350M GBP. One can make many arguments about this - it needs to consider inflation, it's likely going to service debt instead of patient care, it might have happened anyway - but an argument for more nuance is a different thing than the argument to overturn a referendum.
 
  • #363
Orodruin
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argument to overturn a referendum.
This is a red herring. There is no referendum that a priori would have needed to be overturned as it was not a binding vote. Had it been a binding vote it would likely have had to be redone due to several irregularities such as overspending on the part of the winning side.

Also, almost nobody was talking about right out cancelling article 50 apart from the Lib Dems (if they got their own majority, which was never going to happen). What was being talked about was a confirmatory binding vote, which I do not think very strange as "Leave" was not a very well defined option as evidenced by all the different forms of leaving that have been discussed since the referendum. If you give people an option of "changing something" or "keeping the status quo", this gives a lot of leeway for the change option in terms of defining what should be changed and how and this can be done differently when pitching the idea to different people - all tailored to make them more likely to vote for the change without actually knowing what is going to change.
 
  • #364
Vanadium 50
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This is a red herring. There is no referendum that a priori would have needed to be overturned as it was not a binding vote

That's a fair point. But if that's your position, the red bus is as much or more of a red herring. If the referendum is non-binding, who cartes whether or not the "too stupid to vote" types were fooled or not.

I think there is also a fundamental problem with a non-binding referendum and I don't think Cameron et al. really thought this through. Suppose Outcome A is "Well, the people voted Remain, so we will remain. Will of the people and all. Sorry Leavers, but that's democracy" and Outcome B is "The people voted Leave, but after all, we said non-binding, and we the experts think Leaving is a bad idea, so sorry Leavers." So while Outcome B is a logical possibility, it's not a political possibility, at least not without saying to my hypothetical Lincolnshire greengrocer that her opinion never really mattered in the first place and that decisions would be made by experts in London (or Brussels) and democratic input was only a thin veneer over what is ultimately a technocracy.

This problem is compounded by the question being "who makes the decisions" rather than "how many snowplows do we buy"?

If you want to argue that the referendum was bungled from the start, I'd agree with you. I see it as a cynical attempt on the part of the Tories to skim off some UKIP voters by promising them a referendum that they would then lose. And that plan blew up in their faces. If you want to argue that Brexit is on whole a net negative for the UK, I'd agree with you there too. But once the plan for a referendum was launched, rejecting the outcome would be viewed as extraordinarily anti-democratic.
 
  • #365
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So while Outcome B is a logical possibility, it's not a political possibility, at least not without saying to my hypothetical Lincolnshire greengrocer that her opinion never really mattered in the first place and that decisions would be made by experts in London (or Brussels) and democratic input was only a thin veneer over what is ultimately a technocracy.
This actually happened several times in Sweden. For example, we had a referendum in 1955 on whether or not to start driving on the right. No won with a vote share of about 83%, but now we drive on the right. Participation in the referendum was very low however, just about 53%.


But once the plan for a referendum was launched, rejecting the outcome would be viewed as extraordinarily anti-democratic.
Rejecting it outright, I would agree. However, I do not think a confirmatory vote would have been unthinkable from a democratic perspective. It is a bit like talking to someone about parachuting, telling them in vague terms how nice it is and convincing them to come along the next time. At the moment of the jump, when it is clearer what it actually means, it would not be a bad thing to make sure they still want to jump rather than just throwing them out of the plane.
 

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