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On “Brexit Day” both Remain and Leave cling to their illusions

Remain supporters remain deluded both about the EU and the possibility of preventing Brexit; Leave supporters remain oblivious to Britain’s diminished place in the world.

Alexander Mercouris

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On what is already being called in Britain “Brexit Day”, both the opponents and the supporters of Brexit are restating their positions.  Since both sets of positions are shot through with illusions, it seems a good point to say something about them.

Many of Brexit’s opponents still seem unwilling to accept that it is actually going to happen, and still talk as if it could be reversed.  They still seem to cling to the idea that at some point Leave supporters will experience some sort of “buyer’s remorse” – though there is absolutely no polling evidence to support this – and still insist that they were fooled into voting the way they did.  They also lament Brexit as a catastrophe for Britain and for Europe.

On the subject of whether or not Brexit is going to happen, it not only is going to happen but I am becoming increasingly exasperated by the way some Remain supporters claim to respect the outcome of last June’s Brexit referendum and actually do no such thing.  A good example of this is the Guardian newspaper, the editorial of whose Sunday Observer edition says the following

Like others who favoured Remain, we have reiterated, ad nauseam, our acceptance of the referendum result. But whether you were for or against, what confronts us all now is drastically different from what was on the table last June……As Lord Heseltine has suggested, a more imaginative, braver and more consistent leader [than Theresa May] could have used the referendum result to propel an immediate negotiation with the EU on much-needed reforms. If, at the end of that process, Britain’s demands remained unmet, the divorce could have proceeded or, if a deal were agreed, been put to a second vote.

This is a complete misrepresentation of the June referendum result.  The British people when they voted were not told that if they voted Leave that would merely open the way to a new negotiation to ‘reform’ the EU, at the end of which there would be a second vote.  They were told straightforwardly that if the voted Leave then Britain would leave.  When the Guardian talks in this way, it is not showing “acceptance of the referendum result”.  It is showing the opposite.

It is anyway completely false to say that what is offered now is “drastically different from what was on the table last June”.  I doubt that most people who voted Leave were familiar with the detail of the arguments but I have no doubt that they overwhelmingly sought a complete separation from the EU, which would include imposing immigration controls.  That surely is what all the talk of “taking control” was all about.

As it has become clear that Britain is heading towards a “hard Brexit” – quitting the EU’s single market so that it can impose immigration controls – support for Brexit has remained steady.  As Dominic Lawson has written for The Times, both the Remain and the Leave campaigns made it clear during the referendum campaign – contrary to the myth now being peddled by the irreconcilables in the Remain camp – that the result of a Leave vote would be that Britain would quit the European Single Market (ie. go for ‘hard Brexit’)

Perhaps one reason is that those Remain voters — let alone the 17.4 million Leave voters — do not buy the argument, advanced by speakers at the rally, that it was never made clear Brexit would involve leaving the EU’s single market…….

Yesterday, interviewed by Sky’s Sophy Ridge, [former Liberal leader] Nick Clegg repeated (once again) the canard that ‘no one’ realised Brexit would mean leaving the single market. He brushed aside Ms Ridge’s accurate retort that this was exactly what David Cameron and George Osborne had said would happen if Vote Leave won. ‘They were on the other side,’ he sniffed.

Nick Clegg told Sky’s Sophy Ridge that ‘no one’ realised that Brexit would mean leaving the single market

Yet the pre-eminent member of Vote Leave in the Cabinet, Michael Gove, made this clear during the campaign —so clear that last May the Financial Times splashed on its front page with ‘Michael Gove says leaving EU would mean quitting single market’. Almost all other leading members of the Leave campaign followed this line.

The reason for this was obvious. At the heart of the Vote Leave campaign was a pledge to end free movement from the EU into the UK. Yet the rules of the single market are that all members must allow such free movement. It is one of the founding principles, theological in its force. So if we were to remain members of the single market, we would have to continue with unchecked migration from the other 27 members.

There was never a chance that the EU would allow us the one without the other. Such a negotiation would end as soon as it began. That is why May is instead seeking a bilateral free trade agreement with Brussels, akin to that negotiated between the EU and Canada.

Even a majority of those who voted Remain seem to sympathise with this approach. A poll published last week by the National Centre for Social Research found that not only did 86 per cent of Leave voters think that ‘prospective EU migrants should have to go through the same hoops as non-EU migrants’, but 54 per cent of Remain voters agreed with this proposition, too.

The other point which needs reiterating is that the constant Remain refrain that “only” 52% of voters voted Leave is a false one.

In any democratic election it is supposed to be the will of the majority which prevails, however small that majority may be.  However, as I have repeatedly pointed out, the claim that “only”52% of voters voted Leave anyway disregards the fact that a clear majority of voters in England outside London – the core territory of the United Kingdom – voted to do so.  It is both undemocratic and unrealistic to try to set aside the decision of these voters, and the consequences of doing so for the political establishment in London if it did would be catastrophic.

To see how that is so it is merely necessary to look at what has happened to the Labour Party.  Though the overwhelming majority of Labour MPs and Labour Party members are strongly pro-EU, and though a majority of Labour voters in the referendum voted Remain, in many of the Labour Party’s core areas outside London voters voted heavily to Leave.

When analysed carefully, it becomes clear that much of the criticism of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn from liberal Remain supporters because he is supposedly failing to oppose Brexit vigorously enough.  However were Corbyn to resist Brexit as vigorously as his critics want, Corbyn would not prevent Brexit – as Leader of the Opposition he has no power to prevent it – but he would be risking the Labour Party’s continued existence in England outside London.

Recently two parliamentary elections were held in two former Labour constituencies: Copeland and Stoke.  Labour held on to Stoke, but lost Copeland.  I have no doubt that the primary reason Labour lost Copeland and why it is so far behind the Conservatives in the opinion polls is because the Labour Party – struggling to overcome its own divisions – is unable to put forward a clear view on Brexit.

Had the Labour Party supported a ‘hard Brexit’ it might have held on to Copeland.  However in that case it would have risked seeing its position in pro-Remain London collapse.  Had it opposed Brexit vigorously – as Corbyn’s critics want – it would however not only have lost Copeland but also Stoke.

If Remain irreconcilables are deluded about the level of support for Brexit, and about the fact it is going to happen, their greatest delusion of all is however about the nature of the EU itself.  Here it is worth returning to the recent Guardian editorial I discussed previously

Like sheep, the British people, regardless of whether they support Brexit, are being herded off a cliff, duped and misled by the most irresponsible, least trustworthy government in living memory. The moment when article 50 is triggered, signalling Britain’s irreversible decision to quit the EU, approaches inexorably. This week, on Black Wednesday, the UK will throw into jeopardy the achievements of 60 years of unparalleled European peace, security and prosperity from which it has greatly benefited. And for what?

(bold italics added)

As a Greek national I simply do not recognise the existing EU in these words.

I was again briefly in Greece at the beginning of March and I can confirm the total accuracy of the devastating picture of what has happened to Greece as a result of the imposition of EU policies on the country recently provided by Michael Nevradakis for The Duran.

Suffice to say that talking about the EU in the way the Guardian and many Remain supporters do totally ignores the EU’s disastrous mismanagement of its expansion into eastern Europe, which has triggered a war in Ukraine and the massive migration flows which have now caused Britain to vote for Brexit, and its equally disastrous mismanagement of the European economy and its single currency, which have caused the total share of global GDP by purchasing power parity accounted for by the EU’s present members to shrink from roughly 30% in 1980 to less than 20% now.

Probably most British voters are not familiar with the totality of this picture.  However they are certainly not entirely blind to it.  It seems however that some Remain supporters are.

If the perspective on Brexit of many Remain supporters continues to be shot through with illusions, it remains concerning to me however how little understanding there is amongst Leave supporters of the scale of the challenge Britain now faces.

The reality of Britain’s economy is that it has been in steady decline since the 1950s with only a brief uptick in the late 1960s, which however was not sustained.  Margaret Thatcher’s famous reforms of the 1980s may have improved the working of parts of the British economy, but at the price of weakening or entirely destroying the rest.

EU membership has to some extent insulated Britain from this reality, attracting inward investment to Britain and allowing the City of London to position itself as Europe’s financial capital.  All this is now at risk.  Talk of Britain once again becoming a great trading nation following Brexit ignores the reality that Britain’s economy though appearing large is uncompetitive so that Britain has been running large trade deficits in its trade on tradeable goods since the 1980s.

Brexit might in theory energise Britain, forcing Britain finally to confront its many structural problems and finally turning its economy around.  Certainly the means to do it are there.

However that will require the British to be honest with themselves about the state of their society and economy, and about Britain’s profoundly diminished place in the world.  Of that unfortunately there is no sign.

 

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Russian Il-20 downed by Syrian missile. Russia blames Israel. Israel blames Syria (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 110.

Alex Christoforou

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The unthinkable has happened in Syria.

The world now teeters on the brink of all out war in Syria as a Russian Il-20 was downed by Syrian missile after Israeli F-16s used it as cover during attack, according to statements made by the Russian Ministry of Defense.

President Vladimir Putin, answering a reporter’s question during a press conference with Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, said the downing of the Russian Il-20 plane looks like “a chain of tragic circumstances.” 

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the tripwire triggered that has the potential to tip the fragile balance in Syria towards conflict between Russia, Iran and Israel.

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The Russian military says an Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events that led to its Il-20 plane being shot down by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile. Moscow reserves the right to respond accordingly.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said…

“Israel did not warn the command of the Russian troops in Syria about the planned operation. We received a notification via a hotline less than a minute before the strike, which did not allow the Russian aircraft to be directed to a safe zone.”

The statement by the Russian Defense Ministry said that four Israeli F-16 fighter jets attacked targets in Syria’s Latakia after approaching from the Mediterranean.

The Israeli warplanes approached at a low altitude and “created a dangerous situation for other aircraft and vessels in the region.”

The statement further said that 15 Russian military service members have died as a result…

“The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces. As a consequence, the Il-20, which has radar cross-section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile.”

According to reports from RT, the Russian military said that the French Navy’s frigate ‘Auvergne,’ as well as a Russian Il-20 plane were in the area during the Israeli operation.

Map of the incident on September 17 in Syria provided by the Russian defense ministry.

The Russian ministry said the Israelis must have known that the Russian plane was present in the area, but this did not stop them from executing “the provocation.” Israel also failed to warn Russia about the planned operation in advance. The warning came just a minute before the attack started, which “did not leave time to move the Russian plane to a safe area,”the statement said.

The statement gives a larger death toll than earlier reports by the Russian military, which said there were 14 crew members on board the missing Il-20. It said a search and rescue operation for the shot-down plane is underway.

A later update said debris from the downed plane was found some 27km off the Latakia coast. The search party collected some body parts, personal possessions of the crew, and fragments of the plane.

Meanwhile Israel has come out to blame the Syrian government for the downing of the military plane, according to an IDF statement.

Israel said that it “expresses sorrow for the death of the aircrew members” of the Russian plane. However, it stated that the government of Bashar Assad “whose military shot down the Russian plane,” is “fully responsible” for the incident.

Israel further blamed Iran and Hezbollah for the incident.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) explained that its jets were targeting a Syrian facility “from which systems to manufacture accurate and lethal weapons were about to be transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

Israel claimed that the weapons were “meant to attack Israel.”

Via RT

The IDF assumed that the Syrian anti-air batteries “fired indiscriminately” and didn’t “bother to ensure that no Russian planes were in the air.” The Israelis said that when the Syrian military launched the missiles which hit the Russian plane, its own jets were already within Israeli airspace. “During the strike against the target in Latakia, the Russian plane that was then hit was not within the area of the operation.”

According to the Israeli military, both IDF and Russia have “a deconfliction system,” which was agreed upon by the leadership of both states, and “has proven itself many times over recent years.” The system was in use when the incident happened, the IDF stated. The IDF promised to share “all the relevant information” with Russia “to review the incident and to confirm the facts in this inquiry.”

The military presented a four-point initial inquiry into events in Latakia. It insisted that “extensive and inaccurate” Syrian anti-aircraft fire caused the Russian jet “to be hit and downed.”

The Russian Il-20 aircraft, with 15 crew on board, went off radar during an attack by four Israeli jets on Syria’s Latakia province late Monday. Later on Tuesday the Russian Defense Ministry said that an Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events that led to its plane being shot down by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile.

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Trump Orders Immediate Release Of All Text Messages, Carter Page FISA Application From Russia Investigation

Trump has ordered the DOJ to release all text messages related to the Russia investigation with no redactions.

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Via Zerohedge

President Trump has ordered the Department of Justice to release all text messages related to the Russia investigation with no redactions, of former FBI Director James Comey, his deputy Andrew McCabe, now-fired special agent Peter Strzok, former FBI attorney Lisa Page and twice-demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr.

Also released will be specific pages from the FBI’s FISA surveillance warrant application on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, as well as interviews with Ohr.

The statement reads in full:

“At the request of a number of committees of Congress, and for reasons of transparency, the President has directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to provide for the immediate declassification of the following materials: (1) pages 10-12 and 17-34 of the June 2017 application to the FISA court in the matter of Carter W. Page; (2) all FBI reports of interviews with Bruce G. Ohr prepared in connection with the Russia investigation; and (3) all FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with all Carter Page FISA applications.

In addition, President Donald J. Trump has directed the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to publicly release all text messages relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction, of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr

***

As we reported last Monday, Trump had been expected to release the documents any time – with specific attention to the Page documents and the “investigative activities of Justice Department lawyer Bruce Ohr” – who was demoted twice for lying about his extensive relationship  with Christopher Steele – the former MI6 spy who assembled the sham “Steele Dossier” used by the FBI in a FISA surveillance application to spy on Page.

Republicans on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees believe the declassification will permanently taint the Trump-Russia investigation by showing the investigation was illegitimate to begin with. Trump has been hammering the same theme for months.

  • They allege that Bruce Ohr played an improper intermediary role between the Justice Department, British spy Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS — the opposition research firm that produced the Trump-Russia dossier, funded by Democrats. (Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS on Russia-related matters during the presidential election — a fact that Ohr did not disclose on federal forms.)
  • And they further allege that the Obama administration improperly spied on Carter Page — all to take down Trump. –Axios

Ohr, meanwhile, met with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska in 2015 to discuss helping the FBI with organized crime investigations, according to The Hill‘s John Solomon. The meeting with the Putin ally was facilitated by Steele.

Last month Trump called Ohr a disgrace, while also tweeting: “Will Bruce Ohr, whose family received big money for helping to create the phony, dirty and discredited Dossier, ever be fired from the Jeff Sessions  “Justice” Department? A total joke!”

Trump’s threat came one day after two tweets about Ohr, noting a connection to former FBI agent Peter Strzok, as well as a text sent by Ohr after former FBI Director James Comey was fired in which Ohr says “afraid they will be exposed.”

According to emails turned over to Congressional investigators in August, Christopher Steele was much closer to Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie than previously disclosed.

Steele and the Ohrs would have breakfast together on July 30, 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington D.C., days after Steele turned in installments of his infamous “dossier” on July 19 and 26. The breakfast also occurred one day before the FBI formally launched operation “Crossfire Hurricane,” the agency’s counterintelligence operation into the Trump campaign.

“Great to see you and Nellie this morning Bruce,” Steele wrote shortly following their breakfast meeting. “Let’s keep in touch on the substantive issues/s (sic). Glenn is happy to speak to you on this if it would help.”

“After two years of investigations and accusations from both sides of the aisle about what documents indicate, it is past time for documents to be declassified and let the American people decide for themselves if DoJ and FBI acted properly,” Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows told Axios earlier Sunday.

In early August, journalist Paul Sperry tweeted that Trump may use his presidential authority to declassify “20 redacted pages of a June, 2017 FISA renewal, “and possibly” 63 pages of emails and notes between “Ohr & Steele,” and FD-302 summaries of 12 interviews.”

President Trump threatened to declassify documents two weeks ago – one day after the New York Times allegedly published an anonymous Op-Ed claiming to be from a White House official claiming to be part of an unelected “resistance” cabal within the Trump administration.

“The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy – & they don’t know what to do,” Trump tweeted earlier this month, adding: “The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices & maybe Declassification to find Additional Corruption. Wow!”

Trump’s threat comes as calls by frustrated GOP legislators to release the documents have hit a fevered pitch. Spearheading the effort are Republican Reps. Meadows, Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz and Lee Zeldin – who have repeatedly asked Trump to declassify more of the heavily redacted FISA surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page in late 2016.

In June, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee asked President Trump to declassify key sections of Carter Page’s FISA warrant application, according to a letter obtained by Fox News.

Carter Page, the DOJ/FBI’s person of interest, weighed in on the matter in late August, tweeting: “The Corrupt DOJ, co-conspirators in the DNC and their high-priced consultants correctly believed they had American democracy and the FISA Court over a barrel in 2016.”

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De-Dollarization Tops Agenda at Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum

The Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) was held in Vladivostok on Sept.11-13. Founded in 2015, the event has become a platform for planning and launching projects to strengthen business ties in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Via Strategic Culture

This year, the EEF brought together delegations from over 60 countries to discuss the topic “The Far East: Expanding the Range of Possibilities”. A total of 100 business events involving over 6,000 participants were held during the three days.

1,357 media personnel worked to cover the forum. Last year, the number of participants was 5,000 with 1,000 media persons involved in reporting and broadcasting. The EEF-18 gathered 340 foreign and 383 Russian CEOs. Nearly 80 start-ups from across South-East Asia joined the meeting.

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This year, a total of 175 agreements worth of 2.9 trillion rubles (some $4.3 billion) were signed. For comparison, the sum was 2.5 trillion rubles (roughly $3.7 billion) in 2017.

They included the development of the Baimsky ore deposits in Chukotka, the construction of a terminal for Novatek LNG at Bechevinskaya Bay in Kamchatka and the investment of Asian countries in Russia’s agricultural projects in the Far East.

Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Mail.Ru Group, Megafon and Chinese Alibaba inked an agreement on establishing AliExpress trade joint venture. Rosneft and Chinese CNPC signed an oil exploration agreement.

The Chinese delegation was the largest (1,096 people), followed by the Japanese (570 members). The list of guests included the president of Mongolia and prime ministers of Japan and South Korea.

It was also the first time Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the event to meet his Russian counterpart. The issue of de-dollarization topped the agenda. Russia and China reaffirmed their interest in expanding the use of national currencies in bilateral deals.

During the forum, Kirill Dmitriev, the head of RDIF, said the fund intends to use only national currencies in its transactions with China starting from 2019. It will cooperate with the China Development Bank.

This “yuanification” is making visible progress with Shanghai crude futures increasing their share of oil markets up to 14 percent or even more. China has signed agreements with Canada and Qatar on national currencies exchange.

READ MORE: Eastern Economic Forum opens new chapter in US-Russia dialogue

De-dollarization is a trend that is picking up momentum across the world. A growing number of countries are interested in replacing the dollar. Russia is leading the race to protect itself from fluctuations, storms and US-waged trade wars and sanctions.

Moscow backs non-dollar trade with Ankara amid the ongoing lira crisis. Turkey is switching from the dollar to settlements in national currencies, including its trade with China and other countries. Ditching the US dollar is the issue topping the BRICS agenda. In April, Iran transferred all international payments to the euro.

The voices calling for de-dollarization are getting louder among America’s closest European allies. In August, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for the creation of a new payments system independent of the US.

According to him, Europe should not allow the United States to act “over our heads and at our expense.” The official wants to strengthen European autonomy by establishing independent payment channels, creating a European Monetary Fund and building up an independent SWIFT system.

Presenting his annual program, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on Sept. 12 for the European Union to promote the euro as a global currency to challenge the dollar.

According to him, “We must do more to allow our single currency to play its full role on the international scene.” Mr. Juncker believes “it is absurd that Europe pays for 80 percent of its energy import bill – worth 300 billion euros a year – in US dollars when only roughly 2 percent of our energy imports come from the United States.” He wants the raft of proposals made in his state of the union address to start being implemented before the European Parliament elections in May.

70% of all world trade transactions account for the dollar, while 20% are  settled in the euro, and the rest falls on the yuan and other Asian currencies. The dollar value is high to make the prices of consumer goods in the US artificially low. The demand for dollars allows refinancing the huge debt at low interest rates. The US policy of trade wars and sanctions has triggered the global process of de-dollarization.

Using punitive measures as a foreign policy tool is like shooting oneself in the foot. It prompts a backlash to undermine the dollar’s status as the world reserve currency – the basis of the US economic might. The aggressive policy undermines the US world standing to make it weaker, not stronger.

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