Brexit and the politics of diversionary tactics

Ever a philosophical type, Harold Macmillan wrote in his memoirs that he never thought of sabotaging matters for his successor, Lord Home, following his decision to resign as Prime Minister in October 1963, commenting ‘E finita la commedia. It is tempting, but unrewarding, to hang around the Green Room long after the final retirement from the stage.‘ At least Supermac only had the fallout from the Profumo scandal to think about when he departed No 10. Many of his successors would have to vacate the political stage in considerably less propitious circumstances. The circumstances have, after all, arguably rarely been less propitious than the UK’s impending departure from the European Union.

Of course, David Cameron, who will leave Downing Street for the last time later today, is not the only political figure who has exited stage left as a result of Brexit. Indeed, it is curious (to say the least) who many of those who have fled the field are, for the most part, the same people who during the campaign would blissfully bang on how important it is to ‘take back control’ (while saying nothing about things like how the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent is actually not independent, and how so many major firms in London have somehow managed to get away with paying little or no tax on their business). If the likes of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, and Andrea Leadsom could not even control their own destinies, you have to wonder how much serious thought they had really given to a political career in the first place.

At least Johnson, Gove, and Leadsom will not have to worry about dealing with the consequences of the decision for which the electorate have now voted – unless, that is, Theresa May is feeling in an unusually magnanimous mood when appointing her first cabinet. No, the fallout from Brexit is going to weigh heaviest on those of us who do not hang around in the exalted circles of Westminster, almost certainly in the form of another recession and further squeezes on the NHS and education, even if the UK does manage to stay United. The Brexiteers are already beginning to form their excuses. Those who voted Remain, and thus trusted the experts (despite the best efforts of Mr Gove), and have pointed out the falling value of the pound and the tangible uncertainty among foreign investors in the City since the vote, are now being accused by the Leave camp of “Talking Britain down” – as if being realistic about the country’s economic outlook (given, for example, the post-Thatcher inheritance of a weak manufacturing base and the over-reliance on service industries and housing bubbles for economic growth) were now somehow unpatriotic.

Brexit is not the first time that the architects of a national trauma have upped and left, and then sought to dodge the reckoning from their actions. Such a scenario was visited upon Germany in 1918 and in the years following the Armistice. As early as August that year it was obvious that the Germans were going to lose the war – and not just to observers among the Allies, but also to the German chief of staff, General Erich Ludendorff. When the British and French forces broke through the enemy lines at Amiens on 8 August, after successfully stemming the advance of the poorly planned Spring offensives, Ludendorff himself dubbed the date the “Black Day of the German army”. Later, when the news reached him that Bulgaria would surrender to the Allies on 29 September he told the government in Berlin that they would have to seek a peace agreement, and fast.

A peace agreement was reached, but not until 11 November, and it did not involve either Ludendorff, his assistant chief of staff Paul von Hindenburg, or the Kaiser. Two days before, the Kaiser had abdicated, and fled to neutral Holland. Two weeks before that, Ludendorff had gone to Sweden, fearing for his life as Germany was beset by strikes, protests and mutinies. As for Hindenburg, he made sure to absent himself from crucial meetings of the newly formed Social Democrat-dominated civilian government, established the previous month, while it pressed on with the unenviable task of formulating an armistice with the French, British and American authorities who were fast losing patience with the German military establishment.

The Weimar Republic, as the new democratic civilian government was termed, would later be dubbed the “November Criminals” for accepting a humiliating peace with the Allies, and the damaging myth took hold that Germany had not lost the Great War but had instead been on the verge of victory when it was “stabbed in the back” by left-wing elements on the home front (a reference to the strikes and protests that engulfed the country in the autumn of 1918) and Jews. It was nonsense, of course: as Professor Ian Kershaw and other historians have shown, the revolutionary turmoil that gripped Germany that autumn was a consequence, not a cause, of military defeat. Nevertheless, such rhetoric proved to be very useful in keeping the Weimar Republic more or less permanently unstable throughout its existence, and also in helping the Nazis in their ascent to power.

Erich Ludendorff (1865-1937)

Erich Ludendorff (1865-1937)

Ludendorff knew full well what he was doing when in October 1918 he openly supported the democratization of Germany: it was a textbook exercise in pure political cynicism, a subtle element of his efforts to side-step any suggestions that his errors as chief of staff might have had something to do with Germany’s impending military defeat:

I have asked His Excellency to now bring those circles to power which we have to thank for coming so far. We will therefore now bring those gentlemen into the ministries. They can now make the peace which has to be made. They can eat the broth which they have prepared for us.

The war, as far as Ludendorff, Hindenburg, and most of the German Right were concerned, had been lost by the Left. In no way would they ever admit that the incompetence of the German high command – or, for that matter, the superiority of the Allies’ strategy, manpower and resources – had been responsible. However hard those Germans who wanted democracy to succeed in their country after 1918 tried to shatter this toxic myth, it evidently was not hard enough. The consequences of this failure properly to address the military establishment’s diversionary tactics over who was really responsible for Germany’s defeat would prove lethal for millions throughout Europe over the next three decades.

Voluntarily exiting one of the world’s biggest trading blocs (after a referendum campaign characterised by myths and misinformation – which, to be fair, could be found on both sides) is obviously not as traumatic as losing a war, but the parallels between both events – of the key players departing the scene, and then others seeking to rewrite history by means of questioning the other side’s patriotism – are certainly haunting. For the UK’s equivalent of the “November Criminals”, expect the Brexiteers to come up with something like the “June Doom-mongers” every time the economy takes a knock over the next two or more years as the Brexit negotiations are hammered out.

I wrote in my previous article for Slugger of how, in what is increasingly being called an age of “post-fact politics”, it is possible wilfully to talk nonsense and not only get away with, but also profit from, it. Ludendorff and the rest of the German establishment who lost their country a war certainly got away with it in the 1920s and ’30s. The launch last Friday of Vote Leave Watch, a pressure group dedicated to reminding the Brexiteers of their campaign pledges (for instance, the £350 million per week that they promised for the NHS), is thus an encouraging sign that those who were so keen to take the UK out of the EU that they were prepared to claim anything may have a much harder time in getting away with it.

  • Declan Doyle

    None of the leaders of the leave campaign were or are under any obligation to lead the country. They presented an argument against Europe and they won. The responsibility falls to the elected government then to lead the country as the case would be in the aftermath of any referendum. It is silly to suggest that leave campaigners simply by arguing the case for leave are then responsible for driving the country in that direction. Those that tried to stand, Gove and leadsome were either democratically defeated or did not have the support to carry through. Those on the remain side who lost the overall argument and who have a mandate to lead need to get on with the job. Brexit means Brexit. It’s done. Time to make it work. Let Scotland go, Unite Ireland and allow the British empire to (almost) finally shrink back to where it began. Maybe brexit has done nothing more than start to rectify the injustices and mistakes of English expansionist imperialism.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The Brexit impact will have more impact on Northern Ireland than the circus of who is PM and who is leading the opposition. Leave was a romantic fling followed by an unconsummated walk of shame, even though some were happy to advertise they had did so in real life.
    We face cuts when spending increases were promised, customs checks were free trade was guaranteed, farmers, fishers and manufacturers getting subsidies and trade cuts being put in the red when cuts to red tape were being offered. Brexit talked up what I’d consider phantom migration problems, phantom sovereignty problems all engineered for a phantom nation that will never exist.

  • Keith

    I agree completely re the responsibilities of the leave campaign. That’s the nature of referendums. However, I actually think Brexit makes Scottish independence less likely. Not sure that it really has any impact on Irish unity.

    The anti-imperialist stuff I find a bit boring to be frank (don’t mean to be unkind with that statement). History is history, all that matters is doing the right thing now and in the future. You can’t undo what was done in the past, right or wrong.

  • Keith

    I hope you’re wrong with that prediction of doom and gloom. The truth is that we don’t yet know how this will turn out, and won’t for many years. There may be short term negatives, but we can’t be sure beyond that. For me, it’s not all about money. That’s one of the things I found squalid about the Scottish referendum. It was all about the head, and not enough about the heart.

  • Declan Doyle

    Polls are showing a surge in favour of scexit, and with labour falling apart the thoughts of tory rule for at least a decade is not something that the Scottish people have ever been fond of. All the signs lead to another indy ref.

    Irish Unity could spark off the two events; brexit and scexit. Depends on how quickly nationalists can get their ducks in a row.

    The anti imperialist stuff is just a view. And a view held in relation to English history not the present. You are correct, you cannot undo the past, but you certainly can use your experience of it to recast the future.

  • Keith

    The surge in the polls is no surprise, but that may not translate into a vote to leave the UK in the hard light of day. It’s interesting that the SNP and their supporters are so pro EU. The SNP position has been an independent Scotland within the EU, which could maybe be translated as “don’t worry about leaving the UK, we’ll still be part of the EU, along with the rUK”. When the UK leaves the EU, an independent Scotland will be forced to join the EU through the BAU process. There will be no inheriting the UK Ts&Cs as the SNP had argued last time round (that was never likely, but the SNP wouldn’t concede that). This means none of the UK’s opt-outs, unless they can renegotiate them, which is very unlikely. In other words, they have to take the Euro, Schengen (I think), etc.

    The pound was arguably the deciding factor in the last vote, or at least a very significant factor. I seriously doubt Scotland will vote to leave if it means losing the pound, and the creation of a hard border with England. Brexit really changes the character of the debate. Of course, people sometimes vote with the heart and not the head.
    I do agree that Scexit would make Irish unity more likely, but I think still not make it happen anytime soon.

  • Declan Doyle

    If the SNP have proved anything with Sturgeon at the helm it’s that they are quite capable and will have no problem negotiating a deal with Europe. That’s not a challenge at all. The detail is somewhat irrelevant, Scotland will not be expected to take on any burdens or commit to any agreements that are already agreed across the Union. Which is exactly the point. They want to be in the club along with the other members, not outside. How the vote falls of course will depend on the campaign. But yes or no, there will most certainly be another vote. As for a currency, there is nothing to prevent a Scottish point being created linked to either Sterling or the Euro. And yes sometimes people do vote with their Hearts, we saw that in Brexit.

    Irish Unity? Any time soon? I agree with you. Ten years from now is perfect timing.

  • Keith

    I really don’t see the evidence of her deal making. She went to see them and was told, “sorry, we’d like to help, but our hands are tied.” I think you also need to consider the fact that any special deal for Scotland requires unanimous support from all other member states. I seriously doubt she’ll get any such favours.
    I don’t think it’s correct to say that a deal with opt outs is not important. The opt outs are precisely the point, and that was the SNP’s position during the referendum, hence the debate about whether or not Scotland could join via a back door route, and not have to renegotiate terms. The SNP explicitly campaigned on the basis of inheriting the UK’s opt outs. Key to this was not having to accept the Euro. I stand to be corrected, but my understanding is that joining the EU obliges you to join the Euro, as soon as you meet the economic conditions, which Scotland would. As I say, other countries would have to vote unanimously for Scotland to opt out of the Euro and other elements that they don’t want. I just don’t think that will happen.

  • Declan Doyle

    You keep saying you don’t “think” it will happen but with respect that doesn’t really cut the mustard. If Croatia can be accepted into the EU it is highly unlikely Scotland will have much of a problem. Most European leaders want Europe to expand, they are hardly likely to block the accesion of a rich northern European country while accepting those with weaker and less qualified economies. As for the Euro, countries who sign up are required to agree to adopt the Euro at a future date but their is no strict time line. Sweden is good example. In any event, as I said before Scotland could create it’s own pound linked to the euro until such time as is deemed necessary to adopt the euro zone. All countries within the EU have opt outs on different issues, there is no reason Scotland should be any different. There is no earthly reason why any country would refuse a Scottish application particularly with Ireland Germany and France backing it all the way.

  • Gopher

    Much that I enjoyed reading someone who threw their heart and soul into a discussion piece and was about to point out certain flaws in the logic, the British system of government seems to have saved me the bother. The U.K. It’s seems are going to forgo the stab in the back legend.

  • Keith

    I haven’t said that Scotland won’t be accepted. I think it will. My point is that Scotland will not get any special deal or concessions. Most of the opt outs in place today are for existing members who were in a position to block new measures unless these opt out were granted. Some, in fact, came only after countries rejected treaty ratification. Regarding the Euro, the point is that Scotland will have to join when they meet the economic conditions. I believe that’s the rule for new members these days. Same applies to Schengen: new members have to join.

    It’s optimistic to think that Scotland can negotiate opt outs, particular with other EU countries nervous about their own regions leaving.

    So yes, Scotland will be able to join, but at a price: a hard border with England. I think that will be a tough sell for the SNP. Of course, they could just run the campaign on the basis that it will be ok because they’ll negotiate a special deal that recognises their closeness and interdependence with England. I’m not convinced that will fly with their prospective EU partners. Very unlikely.
    May not cut the mustard, but all I can offer is “I think”, because, let’s face it, none of us know for sure. However, I’m judging this on what was said by various parties during the last Scottish campaign and what I see unfolding post-Brexit.
    Nicola is a very impressive politician, but I don’t think she’s got the clout to get Scotland special treatment, and without it, Scotland’s independence is less likely, in my opinion only, of course.

  • NotNowJohnny

    How do you know that the price would be ‘a hard border with England’ given that the UK had not yet negotiated the terms of its withdrawal from the EU nor its arrangements post Brexit? If the U.K. signs up to EEA or EFTA status along with the single market surely there would then be no hard border between England and Scotland in the event of an independent Scotland within the EU?

  • Declan Doyle

    Yes sure of course for all of us it is only opinion. But Europe is a union of nations, it is not an al a care menu. The Scots know this and regardless are still committed to it by a large margin. But the main driver for independence will most likely be an urge to get away from the toys, an urge much greater than that of getting close to Europe.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Dan, you Remainers are still not getting your heads round reality. Why are you still trying to ‘campaign’ with lies about the pro leave argument? Everyone knows the pro leave argument gave facts and it was the remain argument that got called Project Fear, because it was 100% about lies to instill fear in the population.
    The war is over, you lost, we won 🙂

    ” Indeed, it is curious (to say the least) who many of those who have fled the field are, for the most part, the same people who during the campaign would blissfully bang on how important it is to ‘take back control’ (while saying nothing about things like how the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent is actually not independent, and how so many major firms in London have somehow managed to get away with paying little or no tax on their business).”

    Who has left the field? Cameron had to go, and he did the honorable thing. Farage has achieved his 20 year project and is handing over UKIP to someone else. He has also stated that he is available to be part of exit negotiations if asked, Johnson and Gove didn’t make it in the Tory leadership contest. But Johnson is back as foreign secretary today. Who does that leave for the ‘many have left the field’ of your misleading claim? Who doesn’t have a reason?

    UK nukes are controlled by US and major firms avoid paying tax… Yes, what has this got to do with leaving the EU and choosing full control of our country? Politics and economics are the subjects. Shortly all EU countries will have to surrender control of their military to the EU army, if the EU survives that long… You are just trying to create a negative view of the leave side by raising anything negative you can think of. A trick, a lie of false association to trick people.

    Your info on early 20th Century goings on is interesting to read, but has no similarity to UK people voting to leave the EU and become independent and self governing in 2016.

    “Voluntarily exiting one of the world’s biggest trading blocs”

    Misleading again. You are trying to make it sound like we cannot trade with the EU now. Typical Project Fear stuff 🙂

    Of course we can continue trading as normal with the EU, like the rest of the world already does. As you well know, EU business needs to trade with the UK and it is already being raised about the risk to EU jobs if any barriers are put in the way. Pressure for ‘free trade’ is already starting. 750,000 German jobs at risk otherwise…

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/684885/EU-referendum-Brexit-Merkel-trade-deal-UK-Britain-German-jobs

  • SeaanUiNeill

    And perhaps even more significant than the economic issues, Kevin, much of the Belfast Agreement’s structure secondarily relies on EU institutions and the closer relationship of Britain and Ireland within the EU. The sovereignty issue alone will engender endless bones of contention now, something those engaged in the drift of pragmatic Unionists to becoming Irish Passport holders have not properly thought through to its logical conclusion.

  • Keith

    I respectfully disagree that the Scots know this. They were told the precise opposite by the SNP during IndyRef1.

  • Keith

    True, I don’t know, but I think it’s likely. Free movement of people will probably be red line for the UK, which will limit what the UK gets in terms of free trade/single market access. Schengen is probably an even bigger issue, and then there’s the Euro.

  • lizmcneill

    It’s “squalid” to take into account the economy? How ridiculous. What use is sovereignty in the hands of a bunch of Westminster Tories? You can’t eat it, it doesn’t keep you warm at night.

  • lizmcneill

    Hopefully even the current shower are wary of opening the can of snakes that undoing the GFA would be. Maybe Brexit will have taught them not to leap in feet-first without a plan.

  • Keith

    Hi Liz,
    I agree that would be a ridiculous thing to say, but I didn’t say that. Taking into account the economy is perfectly sensible. It would be daft not to. What I said was squalid was the degree of focus on that one item. That’s a very different thing.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    If only! The problem, liz, is that the Belfast Agreement is so intimately reliant on the relationship with Europe that many of its necessary ambiguities are stretched to breaking point by the Brexit.

    The issue of joint sovereignty worked well enough in a European context, but with one guarantor state in and one out of Europe? And where stands the underpin of safeguards provided for by direct access to the European Court of Human Rights? Any careful reading of the Belfast Agreement will show just how much this mutual membership of the EU was taken for granted as a given as part of the agreement. We are entering unknown country legally and the option of sitting on our hands is not available in a situation which will be tested sooner or later.

  • eamoncorbett

    The Scots will surely wait to see what exactly the Irish border will look like before they take any decisions , as I write this May is on her way to Scotland with a train load of platitudes based on fairness , equality , prosperity for all and the usual Tory pledges that we are better together .

  • eamoncorbett

    Surely time will tell who the winners and losers are , after all in boxing terms we’ve only had round one , round 2 is Article 50 , round 3 negotiations , round 4 the result.

  • lizmcneill

    While Theresa’s prior comments on the ECHR send chills down the spine, I’m not sure what the alternative to sitting on our hands is. If we look too hard at the GFA, does the singularity of the devolved institutions collapse back into direct rule from Westminster? NI would be even more helpless than it currently is.

  • lizmcneill

    In the case of Brexit, we don’t get any benefits money can’t buy, like freedom to live, work and travel in other countries, or human rights, or fewer racist attacks….

  • aquifer

    Absenting oneself at critical junctures seems to play very well around here. The DUP before the Good Friday Agreement, Eamonn Devalera missing from the treaty negotiations, Sinn Fein dependably AWOL at the big Westminster votes.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Liz, liz, I don’t think you’ve quite got what I’m saying. Without EU membership, much of what has been agreed as underpinning the Belfast Agreement becomes quite inoperable in actual practice. We need to start thinking about this now, rather than waiting for things to start breaking down.

    I don’t think it simply collapses back into direct rule form Westminster, as the Irish Government has a role in guaranteeing the Agreement also, but this role is now one of a foreign state as far as Westminster is concerned (and vice versa) where previously they were at least technically partners in the EU. Brexit seriously changes the entire relationship:

    http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/events/peace/docs/agreement.htm

    If you do a word check through the agreement I’ve linked to with “Europe” or “European” then you’ll begin to see where I’m coming from. The importance of both guarantors being within the EU is all much more clearly spelt out in ne of the main sources of the agreement’s thinking Richard Kearney’s “Postnationalist Ireland”, which I’d highly recommend as a parallel read which will straighten out those things left purposefully vague in the agreement.

    As the Ancient Chinese put it “interesting Times”……..

  • Dan Payne

    Sir Rantsalot:

    OK….

    >> The war is over, you lost, we won

    Well, that’s news to me: I thought we had had a referendum, rather than a war. If what you’re trying to say is ‘Suck it up, losers!’ (as a number of Brexiteers are doing), the last time I heard or read anything like that was after a five-a-side match at school. Surely we’re all supposed to more mature debaters than that? Further, as Ian Hislop pointed out on Question Time last week, ‘After an election or a referendum, even if you lose the vote you are entitled to go on making the argument. When a government in this country wins an election, the Opposition does not say, “Oh, that’s absolutely right. I’ve got nothing to say for five years!”‘ I fully agree, and would be taking the view even if Remain had won the referendum: if the Leave camp had lost I would definitely not be crowing at them to ‘Suck it up’.

    >> Everyone knows the pro leave argument gave facts and it was the remain argument that got called Project Fear, because it was 100% about lies to instill fear in the population.

    Everyone knows? Do we? I don’t know that. This point of yours is a matter of opinion and perspective, not a fact. As I said in my article above, both sides – Leave and Remain – were guilty of myths and misinformation. In case you missed them during the campaign, here are three of the Brexiteers’ biggies:

    * ‘The EU costs us £350million a day’. WRONG! EU membership actually costs about half that amount when you factor in the Rebate, agricultural subsidies, and the various urban regeneration programmes (not to mention those promoting reconciliation in Northern Ireland)

    * ‘Only about 750,000 British nationals live in the EU, far fewer than EU migrants who live in the UK.’ WRONG! According to the government’s own figures, actually about 2.2 million British nationals live in other EU member states, only slightly fewer than the 2.3 million people from the rest of the EU who live in the UK. In other words, the freedom of movement across the Union is two-way traffic.

    * ‘Turkey is on the verge of joining the EU, and the UK wouldn’t be able to stop it.’ WRONG! The chances of Turkey ever being admitted the EU are receding by the day, as President Erdogan seems to be hell-bent on dragging the country kicking and screaming into the 17th Century. Even if the rest of the EU did support Turkey’s entry (which is unlikely, as the country proceeds to re-Islamise itself), the UK does have the power of veto (as do all member states) over any country’s accession.

    Moving on…

    >> Who has left the field?

    I did point out in the article that Boris was unlikely to be included in the new government, unless Theresa May was in an unusually magnanimous mood when choosing her cabinet. Clearly she is unusually magnanimous, or unusually stupid (q.v. the reaction in foreign offices around the world to his appointment), or possibly both. Maybe we need to give the new PM a chance, after all, she’s only just getting started… The point, moreover, stands: many of the Brexit leaders DID beat an unusually swift retreat after the vote. Gove could have bid for the Tory leadership straight away, but ended up first getting behind Boris, and then thrusting the knife. Additionally, Daniel Hannan MEP started to back-track on suggestions that immigration would fall in the event of Brexit, and Nigel Farage, as we know, suddenly went all coy on breakfast TV about promises made on NHS funding.

    >> UK nukes are controlled by US and major firms avoid paying tax… Yes, what has this got to do with leaving the EU and choosing full control of our country? Politics and economics are the subjects.

    If we’re going to have an argument about sovereignty and control, why stop (or, for that matter, begin) with the EU? The point is that British sovereignty has been compromised over the years by all kinds of factors: first of all, if we can’t press the nuke button to defend ourselves from Mad Vlad in Moscow without asking Obama or Kerry’s permission, then just how sovereign are we? Secondly, we do, after all, live in a world where Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg have more power than the heads of government of about three-quarters of independent states. A parliamentary candidate at a general election has only to suggest raising Corporation Tax to pay for a better NHS, and you can bet that some high-flying city executive will be on the news that evening threatening to move his business (and jobs) to Switzerland if any future government dares to raise his tax bill even by a single penny. And yet it’s only trade unions (which have had much less power and influence since the Thatcher government’s reforms of the 1980s) who ever seem to be accused of ‘holding the nation to ransom’…

    >> Of course we can continue trading as normal with the EU, like the rest of the world already does.

    I never suggested that we could not continue trading with the EU – my only quibble is with the “as normal” part of that statement. If we choose to quit the single market then we’ll have to pay tariffs on EU goods and services – which, while making our home products more attractive to home consumers, will nonetheless add to costs and push up inflation. Investors tend, on the whole, to shy away from countries with an inflation problem. If, however, we choose to accept the single market then we will almost certainly have to accept the freedom of movement (as Norway and Switzerland have done, as the price of being part of the EEA). The point is, that the UK’s negotiation position in the Brexit process is almost certainly likely to be a weak one, and the rest of the EU, after several years and decades of British sniping, are unlikely to be in a magnanimous mood. It’s not impossible, of course, for Mrs May and her cabinet to pull off the charm offensive from heaven, but the odds are against this happening. For further info, check out this fascinating Q+A piece from politics.co.uk:

    http://www.politics.co.uk/blogs/2016/07/14/everything-you-need-to-know-about-theresa-may-s-brexit

    >> Your info on early 20th Century goings on is interesting to read, but has no similarity to UK people voting to leave the EU and become independent and self governing in 2016.

    Well, thank you very much for that. The point that I was making is how easy it is for the powers that be to peddle myths and lies, and not only get away with it but also to evade the consequences of their misinformation. If it was easy for the German Right to do it in the ’20s and ’30s, you can bet that it’s even easier in this “post-fact politics” age that we appear to be stuck with. What’s more, if in the years to come things do go belly-up, politically as well as economically and socially in this country, as a result of Brexit, I will be amazed if any of the top pro-Brexit campaigners publicly throw their hands and say ‘Do you know what? I think we got it wrong!’ So I stand by my comparisons of the Weimar Republic and the post-Brexit UK.

    Finally, yes, I voted Remain. I disagree with the result, but I accept it. I now look forward to the Brexiteers making good on their promises (of which there were many in the campaign), and being able to turn the UK into the Switzerland of the North Sea without any major difficulty. If they succeed, I’ll be the first to admit that I was wrong and that I shouldn’t have doubted this country’s potential. But they have to succeed first…

    As the Chinese proverb goes, May we live in interesting times…! 😉

  • Reader

    If you have skills, you will be welcomed to work in other countries.
    If you have cash, you will be welcomed to travel in other countries.
    If you have income, you will be welcomed to live in other countries.
    That seems reasonable…

  • Reader

    Coming up next:
    Sturgeon tells Scots that there will naturally be a soft border between the UK and the EU; while Adams tells the Irish that there will naturally be a hard border between the UK and the EU.
    Which one is right?.

  • lizmcneill

    Well, again, what can we do about it, in the event that the English government goes ahead with Brexit? And who is we in this scenario? The voters of NI? Their democratic wishes for the GFA and for staying don’t count, apparently? Stormont? Are they going to be the ones to point out the emperor has no clothes? It would be a first. Westminster seems to be otherwise occupied currently.

  • lizmcneill

    It’s less than what we have now. Would you like to be kicked out of a country you had settled in because you were temporarily unemployed?

  • Gopher

    Twice within a couple of days events knock another pillar of your arguement away. We live in an events based world, and it is my understanding that part of the brexit vote was to enable a firewall however practical that might be between the UK and Europe. The case for running the referendum again is now over in fact if you run it next week the result now might change in Scotland and Northern Ireland

  • Gopher

    Another pillar topples over this time within hours. It seems the people of Sunderland are geo political experts.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Dave, appreciate the reply. I would urge you to not watch or listen to main stream media, BBC, SKY News, etc. All your sort of concerns and ‘facts’ are just not true. Please do some of your own investigation.
    Bon Jour!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Indeed, Liz, just another instance of just how small the problems of NI were on the horizon of the Notting Hill Set since the shooting has stopped.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Sorry no more time to spend on this. Always appreciate the discussion. Let’s see how things pan out 😊