Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Getting It Right

"I cannot stress too much that Britain is part of Europe, and always will be. There will still be intense and intensifying European co-operation and partnership in a huge number of fields: the arts, the sciences, the universities and on improving the environment. EU citizens living in this country will have their rights fully protected, and the same goes for British citizens living in the EU."
"There is every cause for optimism; a Britain rebooted, reset, renewed and able to engage with the whole world. This was a seismic campaign whose lessons must be learnt by politicians at home and abroad. We heard the voices of millions of the forgotten people, who have seen no real increase in their incomes, while FTSE-100 chiefs now earn 150 times the average pay of their employees. We must pursue actively the one-nation policies that are among David Cameron's fine legacy, such as  his campaigns on the Living Wage and Life Chances. There is no doubt that many were speaking up for themselves."
"But they were also speaking up for democracy, and the verdict of history will be that the British people got it right."
"It's clear now that project fear is over, there is not going to be an emergency budget, people's pensions are safe, the pound is stable, the markets are stable, I think that's all very good news."
Boris Johnson, Conservative Member of Parliament, former London mayor

    A copy of the London Evening Standard with the headline 'We're Out' is put out in the trash on Friday.
    A copy of the London Evening Standard with the headline 'We're Out' is put out in the trash on Friday. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

















"We should hold fast to a vision of Britain that wants to be respected abroad, tolerated at home, engaged in the world and working with our international partners to advance the prosperity and security of our nation for generations to come."
"I have fought for these things every day of my political life and I will continue to do so."
British Prime Minister David Cameron
Stock markets declined right across Europe in response to the shock waves of the European Union losing one of its political-economic anchors in a deliberate choice made by a slender majority of Brits voting to leave its union with 27 other European countries. The pound plummeted to a new 31-year low, then dropped another 3.5 percent. Despite the buoyant interpretation by Boris Johnson who may become the next British prime Minister.  On the other hand, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne is determined to avoid an austerity budget.

"We are prepared for whatever happens. Our recovery is about as strong as it could be to face this challenge", stated Mr. Osborne. An influential business group has stated it believes 20 percent of its members had plans to take some operations away from the United Kingdom. A survey of the Institute of Directors, of its thousand members, indicated that 75 percent feel Britain's leaving the EU will translate into a poor business decision. A quarter of them announced their intention to freeze hiring, while five percent felt it was time to cut jobs.


    Traffic on London's Regent Street the morning after Britain voted to leave the European Union.
    Traffic on London's Regent Street the morning after Britain voted to leave the European Union. (Marc-André Cossette/CBC)
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The EU's heavy hitters, France, Italy and Germany saw agreement between Francois Hollande, Matteo Renzi and Angela Merkel that "we agree there will be no formal or informal talks", to gently usher Britain out of the EU without the British government proffering an official plan to leave, through invoking Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, which gives it a two-year period to clear out. That two-year respite during which Britain hoped to be able to negotiate favourable economic conditions for continued internal EU trade doesn't appear to find favour with a jilted EU.

And elsewhere in the membership of the European Union? In Berlin, voters are increasingly backing the Alternative for Germany party whose manifesto calls for the dissolution of the EU. "I understand the British", said 58-year-old Ralf Gotthardt. "Decisions are just being made over our heads, and we need a referendum. The English did the right thing." He cites washing machines that "break after only two years", obviously not manufactured in Germany. And the goods and services whose costs have risen.

He also faults the EU for its failure to construct a workable blueprint to deal with the volume of migrants entering from the Middle East, attributing a steep rise in crime, as a byproduct of the free flow of internal immigrants across and through European borders. According to a poll by the Pew Research Center, the extent of the citizen backlash is poorly understood by the EU. It is the populations, not necessarily the governments, in eastern Europe; Poland and Hungary, who support the EU.

Not the French, however, whose distrust and dislike of the EU surpasses the British. A majority of Greeks, Swedes, Dutch, Germans, Italians and French insist on a return of some EU powers co-opted from their national governments. The tight integration, disposal of internal borders, the common euro currency, appear to have failed the test of national pride. European Union rules infuriate many, including bakers in Scandinavia, when the EU attempted to limit cinnamon in baked goods to 15 milligrams per kilogram of dough.

Regulations relating to "bendy bananas", referring to a EU requirement that bananas be "free from malformation or abnormal curvature", elicited ridicule universally. "We must ask the question of whether so many decisions need to be taken in Brussels. It's simply too much. I don't think this is what the people of Europe want", pointed out Gunter Verheugen, former EU commissioner from Germany. But even from among the EU commissioners there is no common front.

"There's this anti-elite thing, populist movements, facts do not count. You have to do what is needed; do not be afraid of the populists. You have to prove that their accusations are wrong", countered Elmar Brok, a German member of the European Parliament. And in that vein British Prime Minister David Cameron mused on the possibility of a second referendum -- as a decision for the next prime minister to make. Allowing a "very strong case" for remaining in the single market, unlikely without bending to unlimited numbers of migrants from the Continent.

Which is precisely another of the main reasons propelling the vote to exit the EU. And which Mr. Cameron acknowledged when he stated that the exit vote did not represent "the outcome that I believe is best for the country I love. But it has to be respected." In respecting that slender majority voting to leave, it is implicit that the EU's insistence that access to the single market comes with free movement; precisely what voters rejected.

Now Britain must turn its attention to persuading Scotland and Northern Ireland to remain in Great Britain.


    A man takes a copy of the Daily Record newspaper reporting on the pro-Brexit result of the UK's EU referendum vote. The paper included an image of Scotland's First Minister and Leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Nicola Sturgeon. London, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European Union but Wales and large swathes of England backed a Brexit.
    A man takes a copy of the Daily Record newspaper reporting on the pro-Brexit result of the UK's EU referendum vote. The paper included an image of Scotland's First Minister and Leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Nicola Sturgeon. London, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European Union but Wales and large swathes of England backed a Brexit. (Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)
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