I’m sure you’ve all seen this venerable meme:
It occurred to me that the whole UK EU Referendum mishigas gave me a pretext to make a brexit/breakfast pun and you know me, I cannot resist a good pun. Or a bad one for that matter. I need to meme two of the four horsemen of the British political apocalypse before moving on. I decided to be kind to Cameron and Corbyn but they deserve it too:
Now that I’ve loaded up the Eurosceptic clown car with two bozos named Nigel and Boris (the Bozo-like Bozza is Johnson’s nickname) it’s time for some substance. I’m going to use sub-headers Odds & Sods style.
Calling America: American pundits have been exposing their utter lack of knowledge on the subject of British history and politics ever since the vote took place. One usually sagacious broadcaster actually led a Brexit segment with this: Will Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson be the next Prime Minister? It literally cannot be UKIP leader Nigel Farage. He’s not an MP and UKIP’s lone seat in the Commons is held by a right-wing Tory defector. Repeat after me: One must be a member of Parliament to be Prime Minister. Period. Case closed. It’s even been over 50 years since a member of the House of Lords was PM. Farage is out but as a Tory MP Boris is the frontrunner to succeed the hapless gambler, David Cameron. Home Secretary Theresa May seems poised to run as a stop-Bozza candidate but Johnson is the favorite.
Back to us Yanks. This is about the UK, not about the US. Any analogies between the two political systems are strained to say the least. Yes. Donald Trump is a loudmouth xenophobic bigot BUT our electorate is only 63% white whereas the British electorate is 87% pale and pasty. The numbers don’t add up, so people should knock it off. Besides, Bill Kristol thinks it’s applicable, which means it’s not.
The only direct effect on the US is economically. The uncertainty caused by Brexit could trigger a global recession. That’s why the Insult Comedian’s support for Brexit shows that he’s an economic imbecile. Despite what Trump thinks, the Scots voted 62% to remain in the EU. Now they’re more likely than not to be an independent country within a decade.
Repeat after me: not everything that happens in the world is about us.
It’s time for a musical interlude. I guess it qualifies as the segment theme song:
The Fog Of EU History: It’s a pity that one of the original reasons for the EU has been forgotten in the Brexit debate. At the end of World War II, Winston Churchill supported some sort of European entity as a means of keeping the peace between the major powers. The EU is a great success in that regard. There’s been no Europe-wide conflict since 1945 and Germany has become fully integrated, not a pariah state like the Weimar Republic.
The British applied to join the European Common Market in 1958 but French General/President DeGaulle wasn’t having it. Originally, the Conservatives were the pro-European “big party” and Labour were predominantly Eurosceptic. After DeGaulle kicked the bucket, Tory PM Ted Heath led the UK into what was then called the EEC. After Labour’s return to power, PM Harold Wilson held a referendum on Europe to shut up his hard left-wing and won with 67% of the vote.
The Tories did not become the party of Euroscepticism until Mrs. Thatcher pushed them in that direction. She was the first of three Conservative Prime Ministers to be ousted because of EU-related issues. In her case it was by pro-European colleagues. John Major and David Cameron spent much of their governments fending off the Eurosceptic Right and were both eventually undone by the issue that *seems* to have been decided by the electorate last Thursday. I say seems because the devil is always in the details and the leave side is noticeably short on them.
Time for a foggy, Gershwiny musical interlude:
The Biggest Losers: There are almost too many to name but both the Prime Minister and leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, are at the head (or is that back?) of the line when it comes to losers. I changed my mind about being kind to the Posh Boy and Jez:
The whole mess is primarily David Cameron’s own damn fault. He has spent 6 years as Prime Minister treating Europe as a party management issue. He kept kicking the can down the road. When in coalition with the pro-EU Liberal Democrats, he could blame everything on their leader, Nick Clegg. Cameron’s greatest triumph as Tory leader-the surprise winning of a majority in 2015-ultimately led to his undoing. He promised to hold an EU referendum after the election to keep his party united. Unfortunately, it was a promise kept; one that swept him out of power.
Like many Britons, Cameron *assumed* the remain side would win. Surely people wouldn’t be so reckless as to throw the European baby out with the bathwater? He was wrong. It was part down to what the Guardian’s Martin Kettle has described as the PM’s own “soft-Euroscepticism,” which is something he shares with his counterpart, the comically inept Leader of the Labour Party.
Jeremy Corbyn could be dubbed His Accidency, and nobody wants to be compared to John Tyler. Like Bernie Sanders, his support comes from old lefties and independents, not his parliamentary caucus. Like David Cameron, Corbyn is a soft-Eurosceptic. He only supported the remain side because of a threatened rebellion by Labour MPs. Note the similarity: it was a party management issue for Corbyn as well as the Prime Minister. Corbyn’s campaigning left something to be desired. I’ll let the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee handle it in a column entitled, Dismal, lifeless, spineless-Jeremy Corbyn let us down again:
Blame is everywhere in the air, as we thrash about in the agony of this moment. Jeremy Corbyn faces an immediate leadership challenge after a performance that was dismally inadequate, lifeless and spineless, displaying an inability to lead anyone anywhere. What absence of mind to emphasise support for free migration on the eve of a poll where Labour was haemorrhaging support for precisely those metropolitan views. Here was Labour’s golden chance to make this referendum campaign its own. Voters who blocked their ears to Labour on the doorstep this time may head for Ukip, never to return.
Labour has thrown away a golden opportunity to capitalize on Tory disarray because it has a dense pillock as its leader. This has nothing to do with ideology: Corbyn is simply too passive and clueless to pounce on this situation. Unfortunately, Labour’s huge losses in Scotland at the last election means that even a better party leader may be unable to win a snap general election. The good news is that Labour MPs are rebelling at the prospect of Corbyn leading them into *any* election. Speaking of future elections, Scotland is likely to hold another independence referendum and this time the YES side will surely win. 2014’s No-Slide was for naught. Repeat after me: Scots voted 62% to remain in the EU. All of the SNP’s post-Brexit maneuvering is about an independence vote. Nicola Sturgeon is a wily lass.
By my lights, David Cameron has been a terrible Prime Minister from day-one. His government’s austerity policies have screwed poor and working class Brits to the wall. He’s now made his defining mistake in holding and losing the EU referendum. He’ll also, more likely than not, be remembered as the Prime Minister who destroyed a 309 year-old union. Wales and Northern Ireland may well decide to leave the UK, which could result in a return to violence in Ulster. Cameron’s referendum mistake could prove to be even costlier than Tony Blair taking a reluctant nation and party to war in Iraq. One should really dub it Camoron’s referendumb.
I think the “winners” of the referendumb are losers as well. Euroscepticism has defined the British Right since 1988. What have they got left to bang on about? That’s why Boris Johnson laid low until yesterday. The mess that he helped to make may well be on his plate come October. It would be a fitting punishment for his egregious malakatude. Let me make one thing perfectly clear: the only thing Boris has in common with the Insult Comedian is bad hair. On paper, Johnson is qualified to be Prime Minister but who knows if he or anyone else will be able to clean up this mess.
British Stupidity, American Lessons: I know I said this isn’t about us BUT there are a few things we can learn from this looming disaster. First, party politics should never be placed above the national interest. That’s why the UK is facing this disaster. Second, vote in every election and do not cast protest votes that you’ll regret. There are millions of Brits whose vote amounted to a cosmic FUCK YOU to the so-called elites of the establishment who are now sorry they voted that way. Here’s how a certain internet smart ass put it on the Tweeter Tube:
The #Brexit result shows that angry populist outrage against establishment elites aren't all they're cracked up to be.
— Shecky (@Adrastosno) June 24, 2016
I hope the Dudebros of the American Left are listening but I suspect they’re busy whinging because the so-called Bernie of Britain is in trouble. I have a new term for this: disaster purism.
Like all human institutions, the EU is flawed. Much of the discussion has been about economics and abstract notions of sovereignty, but the EU’s human rights and labor charters are documents that protect citizens and workers from the excesses of both government and the private sector. The EU is not perfect but it’s kept the peace; something Europe was desperately in need of after two World Wars in 30 years. Repeat after me: Never let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
I’ll let a British cultural icon have the last word: