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Why Britain is Definitely Leaving the European Union

Talk of a second referendum or of the British elite successfully conspiring to subvert the Leave vote are almost certainly wrong.

Alexander Mercouris

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Ever since Britain voted by a clear margin to leave the EU, there have been calls for the vote to be set aside or ignored.

Advocates of this course have pointed out correctly that the vote was purely consultative and that Britain is a parliamentary democracy and that the British parliament is under no legal or constitutional obligation to carry out the referendum result.

People who say that the vote should be disregarded also say the vote was obtained by lies and that many of the benighted voters who voted to Leave, having now realised they were lied to, are experiencing “buyer’s remorse” and would vote Remain if asked to vote again.

Others, whilst grudgingly admitting the vote cannot be simply set aside or held again, propose an alternative more insidious strategy.  They want the British government to go through the motions of pretending to negotiate the terms for Brexit.  Then when in two years time the deal produced is obviously unsatisfactory it can be put to the people in a second referendum, presumably in the expectation they would vote to reject it, allowing Britain to stay in the EU.  Proponents of this strategy include the political commentator Timothy Garton Ash, who in a column for the Guardian put it this way:

“By 2018, the likely result of an article 50 exit negotiation, Scotland’s intentions and any changes that may be made on the continent will all be clearer – and a new Labour leader should be firmly in the saddle. That is likely to be a better moment to ask the British people if they really want to commit this act of self-harm. Or maybe the right moment will come a little sooner, or later.

The strategic goal is clear: to keep as much as possible of our disunited kingdom as fully engaged as possible in the affairs of our continent. But sometimes in politics it is wisest to watch and wait, playing for time and keeping your options open. This is such a time.”

Some of these demands to reverse the referendum result are couched in very emotional language, with a common complaint that the vote to Leave was a betrayal by the old of the young, and with some going further still, like the Observer’s Will Hutton who in a column in the Observer calls the EU

“a noble idea that represents the best effort the world has seen to build international cooperation”. 

Such a great cause apparently cannot be given up even if that means setting aside a clear demand of the people expressed in a democratic vote.

These widespread calls to set aside the referendum result find a strange echo from some people who actually welcome the result.  These people do not want the result to be set aside but are nonetheless confident that it will be.  They say democracy does not exist any more in Britain, Europe or the West, point out that the EU has a habit of ignoring or setting aside referendum results it doesn’t like, and predict that this will happen to the British referendum result as well on the grounds that Brexit would supposedly be too great a blow to the EU and the West for it to be allowed to happen.  Classic statements of this view have been made by the Moon of Alabama blog, by Eric Zuesse here in The Duran and – with important qualifications – by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts.

I am sure these views are all wrong.  I do not believe the referendum result will be set aside or that the referendum will be fought again now or in two years time.  I am sure Britain will leave the EU.

First, as to the referendum result itself, there are no grounds to set it aside.  No one is claiming there were irregularities that might invalidate the result.  Claims the result was built on lies are wrong.  The result was not close.  On a high turnout the people of Britain voted by a clear margin to leave the EU and in England outside London – the core region of the United Kingdom – the vote in favour of leaving was overwhelming.  The fact that the vote is in theory consultative rather than binding is neither here nor there.  The people of Britain were promised before they voted that parliament would be bound by the result and the political reality is that parliament is bound by that promise.  Parliament draws its legitimacy from the people and it cannot simply disregard how they have voted without putting its legitimacy – or rather of that of the politicians and political parties represented in it – in question.

Talk of widespread “buyer’s remorse” amongst Leave voters is for the moment just that – talk – with no polling evidence behind it.  Besides even if some voters who voted Leave are now having doubts there is no reason to think the vast majority of Leave voters, who make up a large majority of English voters outside London, share those doubts.  The expression of doubts in the immediate aftermath of a vote no-one expected is not surprising or even politically important.  Once the situation has calmed down the strong likelihood is that any doubts there now are will settle, and that any Leave voters who in the days immediately following the vote wobbled amidst the noise, hysteria and panic, will quietly firm up again.

As for the attempt to play generations off against each other, that is an appalling argument and is certainly no reason to set the result aside.  Besides the claim 75% of young voters voted Remain is misleading given the very high abstention rate amongst such voters.   The Moon of Alabama blog has explained the point best:

“First, young voters feel cheated of their future because some old, grumpy people voted for Brexit. Well, these young voters of age 18 to 24, tearfully interviewed by the BBC and Channel 4, constitute only 5% of the electorate. Only a third of them voted at all, 70% of those 1/3 of 5% for “Remain”. This is a small part, and a not very interested one, of the population. Who are they to deserve some special attendance?”

If the British government or parliament or the elite in general try to set aside or ignore the vote, they would create for themselves a major crisis of legitimacy especially in England.  Whilst this being the United Kingdom we are unlikely to see riots and tanks in the streets – as some are already warning – it would create a huge sense of grievance, which would very quickly crystallise into a major political movement that in England outside London could easily sweep all before it.  Once the hysteria in Westminster has died down – which it will – that fact will become obvious and politicians being in their mass the political animals that they are – intent first and foremost on their own survival – they will quickly adjust to the fact and will recognise that their only prospect for future political success is if they accept the result and guide Britain towards Brexit.

What of the EU, will it to try to invalidate the result as it has so many other referendums in the past?  For the first and I suspect only time in my life I find myself in agreement with the Le Monde and Guardian commentator Natalie Nougayrede who sets out the obvious difficulties:

“First, about previous referendum reruns. In 1992 Denmark rejected the Maastricht treaty with a 50.7% majority. That set its European partners scrambling for a solution: opt-outs were granted on economic and monetary issues, on common defence and security policy, on home and justice affairs, and on the question of European citizenship. The following year, after that package had been presented, another referendum was held, with this time a 56.7% yes answer. In 2001, Irish voters said no to the treaty of Nice (by 54%). EU statements were then made that Ireland needn’t join a common defence policy and could refrain from other enhanced cooperation. In 2002, a new Irish vote produced a 63% majority in favour. In 2008, again Ireland rejected (by 53%) a new European text, the Lisbon treaty. A special document called “the Irish guarantees” was then produced, allowing for a rerun of the Irish referendum in 2009, with this time 67% of the electorate approving. But what was possible then is not necessarily possible now.

One essential difference is that these previous referendums were not about national membership of the EU, but about plans to strengthen integration. They were about adding layers to the project – not subtracting a key member state from it.”

The point Nougayrede is making, and she is right, is that all the previous referendums she discusses that were set aside were about giving or withholding consent for further EU integration.  When the results went the “wrong” way it was relatively easy to massage them away by making what turned out to be fake concessions that formally met the demand that the referendum result had expressed.  That way the pretence of abiding by a democratic outcome could be preserved.  That incidentally is what also happened following the French Constitutional Referendum of 2005 – a referendum Nougayrede strangely fails to discuss.   That rejected by a clear majority the EU constitution that was being proposed in that year.  The EU got round that rejection whilst formally abiding by it by pretending to drop the constitution whilst repackaging it as the Lisbon Treaty, which France then accepted without holding another vote.

As Nougayrede rightly says, it is simply not possible to do things like that in the case of Britain’s Brexit vote, where the vote was a straightforward vote to leave the EU.  That is too unambiguous a rejection of the EU to be massaged away.  Any attempt to do so would cause fatal damage to the core of the EU’s ideology and self-image, written into its founding Treaties, of itself as a community of democracies and free peoples.  As its leaders undoubtedly know, doing anything like that would completely vindicate the EU’s critics by proving conclusively that they are right: that it is not the democratic structure which it claims to be but is rather one which depends purely on force.  Given the crisis of legitimacy that would cause it is unlikely the EU would survive such an exposure of itself for very long.

The same by the way holds true of one other referendum that Nougayrede also for some reason does not discuss – the one that was held in Greece last year.  That too was not a vote to stay or leave the EU or even to stay or leave the Eurozone.  Rather it was or purported to be a referendum about whether or not to accept the EU’s bailout conditions, a massively complicated issue in which Tsipras and the Greek government could pretend to be carrying out the will of the Greek people after the result was declared whilst actually doing the opposite.

I would add that if the EU were to attempt the same sort of financial terrorism towards Britain that they carried out towards Greece last year – something which is actually impossible given Britain’s far bigger and stronger economy and the fact that Britain is not a part of the Eurozone – the effect in Britain would be calamitous and would massively strengthen the demand in Britain to leave the EU and to do so moreover immediately.  The effect on the world economy – including the EU and US economies – of targeting in that way the country which hosts one of the world’s largest financial centres anyway ensures it will not happen.

In fact the impossibility of reversing the British referendum result is so well understood within the rest of the EU that only marginal players like Poland’s Jaroslaw Kaczynsky are reported to have even suggested it.  On the contrary the consensus within the EU appears to be that they want to end the uncertainty by getting Britain to leave the EU as quickly as possible and that they want that to happen by having the British initiate the process by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty with the least possible delay.

What of the view that efforts will nonetheless be made by the elites both in the EU and Britain to keep Britain within some of the institutions of the EU – first and foremost the European Single Market – even if Britain formally quits the EU?

Whilst such a thing is theoretically possible I frankly doubt it will happen.  The British want to stay within the European Single Market but essentially want to do so on their own terms – with unrestricted access for their businesses to the Single Market whilst opting out of the EU’s core principle of unrestricted movement of labour.  Whilst such a thing is theoretically possible, I cannot see why the EU would concede it when doing so would merely encourage other EU states to demand the same.  Ultimately hopes for these sort of arrangements rest on assumptions about British power and importance to the EU which have no basis.  Given the bad example making such concessions to Britain would create, I cannot see why the EU would want to make them.

We should not let the hysteria amongst the political class in Britain blind us or confuse us to the realities.  Britain is definitely leaving the EU, and there will be no second referendum and no reversal of the decision.  Perhaps Scotland will split away and will negotiate to join the EU, but that will come later.  England at least is definitely leaving.

As for the idea that Britain can quit the EU but remain a member of the European Single Market on its own terms, frankly I think that is very unlikely and I doubt it will happen.

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Sergey Lavrov SLAMS new US sanctions over Skripal case

Ruble continues to tank under the spectre of looming American sanctions imposed on the basis of circumstantial evidence and insinuation.

Seraphim Hanisch

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TASS News Agency reported on Sunday, 12 August that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov slammed the US Department of State’s accusation against Russia regarding the attack on Sergey and Yuliya Skripal in Salisbury, England earlier this year.

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The State Department made the decision to impose new and very painful sanctions against Russia based on this premise.

This new round of sanctions is hitting the Russian economy very hard. The Ruble slid against the dollar from about 63 rubles on Thursday to more than 67.6 rubles as of 1:30pm UTC (Greenwich Summer Time) on Sunday.

Foreign Minister Lavrov had this to say:

“I think that all who know even a little bit about the so-called Skripal case, understand the absurdity of the statement in the official document of the US. Department of State that the US has established it was Russia behind the Salisbury incident.”

TASS went on to outline the circumstances:

On Wednesday, the US Department of State said in a statement that Washington was imposing new sanctions on Moscow over its alleged involvement in the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in the British city of Salisbury. The first round of sanctions will take effect on August 22, while a second round may be introduced in 90 days in case Russia fails to meet certain conditions, the State Department said. Moscow has on numerous occasions rejected all the allegations about its involvement in the Salisbury incident.

The current round of sanctions goes into effect on 22 August, and is directed as follows, according to Bloomberg.com:

The initial round of these sanctions will limit exports to Russia of U.S. goods and technology considered sensitive on national security grounds, including electronics, lasers and some specialized oil and gas production technologies, according to a State Department official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity Thursday. The official said the action could block hundreds of millions of dollars in exports. Waivers will be allowed for space-flight activities and U.S. foreign assistance.

Under the 1991 law — invoked previously only against North Korea and Syria — a second, far more extensive round of sanctions would follow later unless Russia meets conditions including providing assurances it will no longer use chemical or biological weapons and will allow on-site inspections to verify it has stopped doing so, the official said.

Russia Thursday repeated its denials that it has the weapons or used them and held out little hope for compromise.

The added sanctions could include a downgrading in diplomatic relations, blanket bans on the import of Russian oil and exports of “all other goods and technology” aside from agricultural products, as well as limits on loans from U.S. banks. The U.S. also would have to suspend aviation agreements and oppose any multilateral development bank assistance.

The additional sanctions also could be averted if Trump declared that waiving them would be in the U.S. national interest, a politically risky move in light of criticism that he’s been too soft on Russia on issues including interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The action by the US State Department is being viewed as an internal political counterattack against US President Donald Trump in response to his overtures to President Vladimir Putin at the Helsinki Summit in July of this year. In that summit, the two leaders had very frank discussions that looked incredibly positive for the prospect of a true thawing out of the troubled relations between the two great world powers.

However, the event appears to have drawn out the elements within the American power establishment which presently comprises most of Congress and almost all of the news media. Even some conservative media outlets joined briefly in condemning Mr. Trump for “selling out” to Vladimir Putin by saying he had no reason to believe Russia would interfere with the American elections.

While Mr. Trump tried to politically backpedal this remark, the die had been cast and now much of this establishment has invested their time and energy into branding Mr. Trump a traitor to the USA. In a similar vein, as reported by Jim Jatras in his piece here, US Senator Rand Paul also made overtures that were warmly received by Russian senators, and now he too, has been marked as a traitor.

In that light, plus even British media acknowledgement that there is no hard evidence whatsoever that ties the Russian Federation to the poisoning of the Skripals or the second couple in Amesbury more recently, it is clear that all deductions have been made on spurious reasoning and no hard facts.

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War is coming – to the United States and to the world

The all-but-inevitable Second American Civil War is likely to be fought away from US soil if the globalists have their way.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Jim Jatras’ piece, reposted in The Duran framed the political mess that Donald Trump – and the United States –  is in, extremely accurately:

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First US President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and appears to make some progress towards his stated goal of putting ties between Washington and Moscow on a positive course. Immediately, all hell breaks loose. Trump is a called a traitor. The “sanctions bill from hell” is introduced in the Senate. Trump is forced on the defensive.

Next Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky visits Moscow, where he meets with Putin and gives him a letter from Trump proposing moderate steps towards rapprochement. Paul also talks with Russian Senators and invites them to come to Washington to continue the dialogue. Immediately, all hell breaks loose. Paul is called a traitor. The State Department “finds” the Russians guilty of the using illegal chemical weapons (CW) in the United Kingdom and imposes sanctions. Trump is forced even more on the defensive.

It is debatable how much of the US government Trump actually controls. This is the crux of the problem.

One President and one US Senator standing alone against all the Democrats and almost all Republicans in both Houses of Congress. Standing alone against a media culture dominated in the West by interests along the lines of cultural Marxism and anti-Christianity at any and all costs.

The truly fearsome power of the globalists appears to have the upper hand.

President Trump and President Putin are both dedicated and brilliant men. They have been trying to make a difference despite the enormous power being brought to bear against them. Rand Paul, for his part is also contributing to this.

The effort to marginalize President Trump has met with great success, though not total. The Russiagate investigation may be coming to its end; certainly a lot of information has revealed that the matter of election interference was never a Republican, much less Trump-related, phenomenon.

But the matter continues not to die.

The changes in prosperity and economic growth in the United States are astounding, especially in light of former President Obama’s insistence that it could never happen.

But the midterm elections approach, and there is not a clearly resounding wave to get more people who are on the Trump Train so to speak to continue to make and widen the impact of domestic change, as well as geopolitical change.

The inevitable outcome appears to be only one thing: War.

This war will be the Second American Civil War. 

While it must be said that the attribution of fault made is utterly incorrect, the New Yorker piece linked above does correctly list five conditions that set the table for such a conflict:

[Keith] Mines [with the US State Department] cited five conditions that support his prediction [of a new American civil war]:

  • entrenched national polarization, with no obvious meeting place for resolution
  • increasingly divisive press coverage and information flows
  • weakened institutions, notably Congress and the judiciary
  • a sellout or abandonment of responsibility by political leadership
  • the legitimization of violence as the “in” way to either conduct discourse or solve disputes

It is not hard to see how these conditions have come to be so in the US.

The only problem is that it is very unlikely to be fought in the United States. It is likely to end up in Europe, Russia, Ukraine, perhaps parts of the Middle East, like Saudi Arabia.

We might well be faced with the prospect of a “government in exile” as Mr. Trump and those supporting his viewpoints are forced to flee the US.

The ideological viewpoints about Russia are not very important to many American people, but the home front will pit two sides that are both destined to lose.

One side is the ideological Left – like those people we consider “loony California liberals”, whose belief in open borders and the rejection of any sort of Christianity-based or traditional family values will cause their side to eventually implode.

The other side is what we might call the “right” or the Americans that support President Trump. However, they too are somewhat influenced by the very pervasive anti-Russian propaganda and it is likely that this group will be divided within itself, though they will be allied against the left.

For this reason, this opposition group will also suffer from a great deal of internal weakness.

This would normally lead to a bloody and protracted conflict. However, the greater danger with this lies in the pervasive power of the Western Media. It is extremely likely that the media will work to deflect attention from the true nature of the war and incite American forces to strike at Russia in some sort of direct, or by-proxy military action.

The picture the American people will be presented with is that Russia is trying to take over the world, when in reality Russia is simply trying to hold her own territory and her own ways.

Is there a way to stop this?

Yes. There is a way to stop it. The election of President Trump bought the US and the world a bit of time because Mr. Trump is so dynamic that it is difficult to truly stop him. The hallmark of his presidency is success in just about every aspect he has paid attention to.

But what he needs is congressional support.

It is very unlikely that the upcoming 2018 midterm elections offer a chance to create a truly pro-Trump agenda majority in Congress. But it can raise the number of dissenting voices to a number greater than one (Rand Paul). A strong vocal bloc of senators and representatives that speak with one voice about this issue could be enough to break through the wall of censorship of the American media. It could give voice to millions of Americans who also believe that this fight is coming, and who want to stop it.

Avoidance of this war will certainly not happen if establishment candidates or worse – liberal Democrats – win the midterm. With such a situation, the President will be marginalized greatly, and the rhetoric against Russia as a scapegoat will only increase.

The outcome is mercilessly logical.

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Saudi Crackdown On Canada Could Backfire

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not apologizing for his country’s call that the Saudis release human rights activists.

The Duran

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Authored by Tsvetana Paraskova via Oilprice.com.


Like many spats these days, the Saudi Arabia/Canada one started with a tweet. Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland called for the release of Samar Badawi, a women’s rights activist who is the sister of jailed blogger Raif Badawi, whose wife is a Canadian citizen.

The arrests had taken place in OPEC’s largest producer and leading exporter Saudi Arabia, which has amassed its wealth from oil and now looks to attract foreign investors as it seeks to diversify its economy away from too much reliance of crude oil sales.

Canada’s foreign ministry’s global affairs office urged “the Saudi authorities to immediately release” civil society and women’s rights activists.

Saudi Arabia—often criticized for its far from perfect human rights and women’s rights record—didn’t take the Canadian urge lightly. Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador, stopped direct Saudi flights to Canada, stopped buying Canadian wheat, ordered Saudi students and patients to leave Canada, froze all new trade and investment transactions, and ordered its wealth funds to sell their Canadian stock and bond holdings in a sweeping move that surprised with its harshness many analysts, Canada itself, and reportedly, even the U.S.

The Saudi reaction shows, on the one hand, the sensitivity of the Kingdom to criticism for its human rights record. On the other hand, it sent a message to Canada and to everyone else that Saudi Arabia won’t stand any country meddling in its domestic affairs, or as its foreign ministry put it “an overt and blatant interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom.”

The Saudi reaction is also evidence of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s harsher international diplomacy compared to the previous, ‘softer’ diplomacy, analysts say. Saudi Arabia is also emboldened by its very good relations with the current U.S. Administration, and picking a fight with Canada wouldn’t have happened if “Trump wasn’t at the White House,” Haizam Amirah-Fernández, an analyst at Madrid-based think tank Elcano Royal Institute, told Bloomberg.

The United States hadn’t been warned in advance of the Saudi reaction to Canada and is now trying to persuade Riyadh not to escalate the row further, a senior official involved in talks to mediate the dispute told Bloomberg.

The row, however, will not affect crude oil exports from the Kingdom, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih has said, adding that Riyadh’s policy has always been to keep politics and energy exports separate.

Canada imports around 75,000-80,000 bpd of Saudi oil, and these barrels can easily be replaced, CBC quoted analyst Judith Dwarkin as saying earlier this week. The chief economist of RS Energy Group referred to this amount as “a drop in the bucket” at less than a tenth of Canadian crude imports compared with imports from the United States, which amount to about 66 percent of the total. The United States could easily replace Saudi crude thanks to its growing production, Dwarkin said.

Still, the strong Saudi message to Canada (and to the world) is not entirely reassuring for the investor climate in Saudi Arabia, which is looking to attract funds for its economic overhaul and mega infrastructure projects worth hundreds of billions of dollars each.

“The Saudi leadership wants to drive home a message that it’s fine to invest in Saudi Arabia and bring your money to Saudi Arabia, but that there are red lines that should not be crossed,” Riccardo Fabiani, a geopolitical analyst at Energy Aspects, told Bloomberg, but warned that such strategy could backfire.

Analysts are currently not sure how the feud will unfold, but Aurel Braun, a professor of political science and international relations at the University of Toronto, told Canada’s Global News that Saudi Arabia is unlikely to back down and reverse all its retaliatory measures without getting something back from Canada.Related: The Unforeseen Consequences Of China’s Insatiable Oil Demand

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not apologizing for his country’s call that the Saudis release human rights activists.

“We have respect for their importance in the world and recognize that they have made progress on a number of important issues, but we will, at the same time, continue to speak clearly and firmly on issues of human rights, at home and abroad, wherever we see the need,” Trudeau told a news conference this week.

The economic impact of the Saudi retaliation on Canada is unlikely to be large, but the fact that Saudi Arabia is whipping the oil wealth stick to punish economically what it sees as “blatant” interference with its affairs is sending a message to other countries, and a not-so-positive message to foreign investors.

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