Brexit: What is going on?

On the eve of the commons vote that Theresa May has now tried to defer, we gathered to work what is going on, what we want and what is happening next.

The panel included:

Christian Michel – Philosophy and Economics Meetup Organiser
Lucy Harris – Leavers of Britain
Catherine McBride – Senior Economist, IEA Trade and Competition Unit

In their opening statements the panellists gave their point of view. I started by asking Christian why “people” wanted to be part of the EU in the first place?

Christian does not know why “people” want to Remain, but knows why he wants to Remain. This is because he feels that the EU destroys respect for the concept of a state. There is no love for the EU in the same way that there is love for nation states. States that are remote and undemocratic lack moral authority and the end result, he says, will be that the EU exerts less authority than would be wielded nationally.

Catherine, was working in Australia as the EU developed from the EEC into the EU. For her, the institution was an “OPEC for developed nations”. In particular this is what it was presented as in Australia, making its evolution into a sovereign entity with broad and deep powers a bit of a surprise. Such was also the experience of people here, she felt. Catherine also feels that had the EU stuck to the 9 first countries (Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, West Germany, Denmark, Ireland and the UK) it might have worked out better. However the UK in particular was the “oddball” and had different economic needs and alignments, tending to develop ahead of the EU nations thanks to US influence. This meant the UK was incompatible from the the beginning.

Lucy, laments the rapid “twitter feed” progression of events in the current climate. Lucy felt that what the country needed now was a new leader from the Leave side who would be able to be braver and more bold than Theresa May and deliver the result of the vote. This deal, she says, is not Brexit and not the will of the people because it leaves us in the Customs Union. She says the Brexit we need must include “no connection” with the ECJ, freedom of movement, the customs union or single market. The reasons for Brexit are not especially tied to immigration and is not a racist phenomenon.

The panel went on to discuss, in some depth, the nature of democracy and the attitude of the Remain camp toward Brexit voters, and the likely direction of events.



  1. The European Union is additional layer of government on-top-of-the-other-layers – it does not get rid of any other layer of government.

    And it is utterly vicious from the point of view of liberty – for example if a single country (say Germany) attacks Freedom of Speech on the internet, one can operate in some other country. But if the European Union does it (and IT IS DOING IT) then one has to leave 27 countries (or whatever it is) out of one’s internet activity – and the whole world is pushed in a pro censorship direction.

    But is Mrs May the right person to lead Britain in a more pro liberty direction? Of course NOT – which is why have publically said that Mrs May must go, and I now say so again.

    Mrs May is not serious about getting us out of the European Union (T. May would deliver “independence in name only” – leaving us still, de facto, under the rule of the E.U.) – and even we did get real independence under Mrs May there would be no movement in a pro liberty direction – because Mrs May has utter contempt for liberty. The last General Election manifesto made this clear – I expected it to be an attack on the Labour Party (what one would expect in an election document) and there was some of that – but a lot (most?) of the document was an attack on pro liberty people inside the CONSERVATIVE Party, it read like a personal attack directed at people like me. We were well ahead in the polls before the manifesto came out – and then it sucked all life (all pro freedom spirit) out of the campaign.

    I hope very much that Mrs May will get a visit from the men-in-grey-suits tomorrow.



  2. As for “racism” – the three main “Leave” contenders to be Leader of the Conservative Party are David Davis, Dominic Raab, and Boris Johnson – any Guardian or BBC type who pretends any of these people is a “racist” is a liar.



  3. I am astonished at some of the libertarians who are quite intelligent yet refuse to vote, on the grounds that just as they don’t want others to “impose” their policies on them, so they, the libertarians, don’t want to “impose” their policies on others.

    How in the world is it anything but a complete minimum of imposition others to require only that everyone leave everyone else alone? That, after all, is the core “policy” that libertarianism imposes on anyone. “Keep your hands to yourself,” as Richard (Epstein) keeps putting it.

    But, you say (“you” being my other self when I am arguing with me), this is the real world and decisions have to be made about what does and doesn’t constitute “keeping your hands to yourself” and about when and under what, if any, circumstances, your bunch (polity, jurisdiction, country, etc.) should go to war, and what methods of fighting this horrible, savage, completely uncivilized thing called “war” should be considered acceptable, and what not, and of the acceptable ones, what is the most efficient and effective way of conducting it? It’s more than just following the rule that nobody attempts to subvert the self-determination that is the basic right of human beings (unless they’ve waived that right by their own attempts to or clear statements that they will attempt to arrogate another person’s life or property).

    Those questions have to be decided, if not in advance, then on an ad hoc basis as events occur and the need arises. But who will make the decisions, and on what grounds?

    Also: Forgive me, but anyone who thinks a largish bunch of people can get along together and conduct themselves without some form of overseeing body is hunting unicorns in a cloud of fairy dust. At the very minimum, there are the mores and conventions that develop in any society, including the tiny society consisting of two married people, and the Rules are “enforced” via social pressure. And the larger the group, the likelier it is that some sort of governing body will come into being — a “leadership.”

    We are not going to have “pure” libertarianism in the real world; the problem that libertarianism addresses is how to keep the sanctity of the individual (keep your hands to yourself) free of the impositions that our nature as a sociable species tempts us to visit upon ourselves (and others).

    People like M. Michel and, over here, George H. Smith, don’t seem to realize that since we do live in a “democracy” or a “republic,” choosing not to vote amounts to choosing to lie down and let anybody but the person himself make up the rules and enforce them.

    If they end up being ruled by Hitler or Chavez or other less monstrous but still awful people, at least they can console themselves that they have “clean hands.”

    M. Michel, Mr. Smith, why are you unwilling to assume the responsibility for your own safety and well-being by voting? The lamb may have hooves clean as can be, but their cleanliness is not much use as a weapon protecting him against others who propose to eat at least part of him for lunch.



    1. Please note, I intend no disrespect to either Mr. Smith or M. Michel. It is only this particular conclusion that they both (and they’re far from the only ones) have reached that seems to me not only unrealistic but downright perverse.



    2. Yes Julie – I would have thought that getting rid of a layer of government (in this case the European Union) would be something all libertarians could agree on – but some libertarians refuse to get involved, or even support the Brussels bureaucracy.



Leave a Reply to Julie near Chicago Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s