Brexit Vote: the Storm before the Storm

Effie Samara on Brexitland England: the absurdity of non-presence: determining one’s essence by what one is not.

As the rude awakening of Brexit looms in the horizon, the recent splintering of the Labour Party and its echoing across the Conservative benches seems like the inevitable storm before the bigger storm. Keir Starmer’s polite sadness at this development and his oblique criticism of Labour’s approach does little to resolve the most serious post-war dilemma in British post-colonial history. At the highest level, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn’s symbiosis is a sight to behold. It would be impossible not to surmise the obvious: Corbyn, is desperate for Brexit to happen. He cannot define Brexit but, nonetheless, wants it. He insists that he can do it better, more politely, full of civility and good manners. He will not, and, despite the posturing, he knows it. That is why he prefers May’s signature on the bloodiest act of modern British history so that he can always offer his followers the moral tranquilizer of “a better Brexit, had Labour been in charge”.

As Great Britain- or what is left of it- prepares for some bizarre form of self-inflicted civil war (the delights of the Contingencies Act 2004) Boris Johnson’s “f*** business” resonates as a chilling prophesy. It can now be trans-languaged across every vein and every artery of our former “Great British” life: f*** the constitution, f*** human rights, f***foreigners, f*** Ireland but above all f*** respect for oneself: Anything goes. We’re great, we will survive “it”. The mysterious and sacred “it” of post-modern Britain. And yet, some of us are too dense to get “it”, whatever “it” may be. But sadly, tragically, there is no “it” in Brexit; Brexit does not exist. They tried to make it up, imagine and design it in the most Frankensteinian mode, prop up its brittle bones, make it stand on non-existent legs and pour oxygen into its plastic veins. And they failed. Brexit is a fantasy which is only there to remind us of what England is not. England is “not colonised”, England is “not defeated”, England is “not snow-flaky” England is “not a rule-taker”, England is “not Europe”. In philosophy, this is what we define as the absurdity of non-presence: Determining one’s essence by what one is not.

Labour’s detached attitude through these cataclysmic events possibly points to their gearing up to facilitate Mrs May’s romantic Brexit. Half-explained by Emily Thornberry, their latest U-turn on the possibility of a People’s Vote is no surprise to anyone. Thornberry’s nausea at the idea of the UK taking part in the European elections is telling. Turbo-charged by the passion of ethno-state enthusiasts, the Tories and Labour have set 29 March as the apotheosis of national self-immolation, the wet dream of a most English Resistance against a most imaginary enemy: the European. An enemy, whose dehumanisation, the present labour leadership has done all it could to encourage. Let us not forget Corbyn’s shameful silence on the settled status scheme which promises a re-enactment of the Windrush scandal under the unreassuring gaze of Sajid Javid. Corbyn remains unaffected. He continues to remain unaffected by the British State’s opprobrious record in opposing European legislation on matters which, he claims, are close to his heart: Workers’ rights, exploitation, gendered rights and minority rights.

A people salivating over the prospect of their government preparing to strip them of fundamental human rights and imposing martial law (which would include travel bans, curfews and the deployment of the armed forces on the streets of Britain) is without precedent but still understandable given Mrs May’s urge to assist the Empire Two movement. But Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is notable in its complicity in this ideological reboot of Thatcherism, complete with sado-monetarism and drunken xenophobia, bellicose patriotism and Blitz spirit for the generation whose closest encounter with rationing is being unable to obtain their favourite recipe of chicken in KFC on a Friday afternoon. Out of the 650 Members of Parliament, the SNP and the Green Party have been the only two groups to maintain a solid and ethical stance of opposition. The Labour party, despite internal pressures, continues to oscillate between meaninglessness and downright falsity. It swims between misrepresenting facts about European regulations on nationalised utilities to ignoring the UK’s continued and sustained favouring of deregulation and outright denial of Human Rights and minority concerns. It is beyond the rational mind why Mr Corbyn’s Labour chooses to ignore the hard fact that, over the last twenty five years, the United Kingdom has steadfastly opposed legislation to promote basic human freedoms and consummers’ rights. Let us remember the UK’s strong opposition to: Ban on livestock growth-boosters with hormonal, thyrostatic or beta-agonist effects and carcinogenic residue in meat (Directive 96/23/EC 29/04/1996), food additives and sweeteners (Regulation (EU) No 1130/2011), livestock sanitation, fiscal evasion and the computerised system for monitoring the movement of excisable goods, and working women’s rights (Pregnant Workers’ Directive).

Well before Brexit, in its long history steeped in exceptionalism, the United Kingdom has been the rock and roll star for ‘reluctant Europeans’. The UK’s puritanico-capitalist ideology which has framed Britain’s Atlanticist approach to human rights, and, to a large extent, its repugnance for them, is founded on a narrative, or mythology, that frames the British approach to human rights as a type of ‘rights entrepreneur’ underpinned by parliamentary initiatives rather than legislative protections. The last two years have sadly revealed that the once revered parliamentarian can be bought, sold and openly be at the service of controversial interests which, without the oversight of an independent judiciary, could imperil rights especially for those who can least bear to loose them.

As today’s Labour party sees no impediment to sounding more and more like the DUP, I would like to ask Mr Corbyn why the SNP is the only political party in the UK today to assert the primacy of freedom of movement for people over the free movement of capital. He is, to some, the Messiah of modern socialism and as such, capital prevailing over people should be his red line. Scotland’s demographic concerns aside, why does the Labour party side with neo-conservative politics and new patterns of exclusion just to “please” certain groups rather than educate them on some tangible realities.

Mrs May has good reason to. God is guiding her. Her very Brexited-type god. A god who does not offer salvation. He is the essence of the divine postmodern, post-truth, salvific poster-boy of capitalism. Ironically, this is Jeremy Corbyn’s world order, too. Is is not incredible that Corbyn’s allotment asceticism, his second Coming, threatens to reduce this country to a xenophobic, petulant, racist pariah? A country subject to her Atlantic friends’ mood swings, their toxic phyto-sanitary cheeseburgers, a scary place of gated privilege and Victorian-style self-flagellation for the masses who attempt to dream above their station. How tragic for a man who, legend has it, once romanced Dianne Abbott on a bike-tour of East Germany. How tragic that he has decided to prostitute his party’s internationalist stance on workers’ rights to what he thinks voters in certain constituencies “would like to hear”. Truth, principles and solidarity between human beings cannot and, ultimately, will not be prostituted to any party political agenda, Left or Right. The history of contributions to this country by Europeans and all others beyond the Continent is the making of this country, its essence and its undisputed identity. It now has to swim against this avalanche of deliberate ideological stupidity. Against the the Conservatives’ unending internal strife and Labour’s “endorsement” of the DUP’s “concerns over the backstop”, even against Corbyn’s very own, very real support for the Irish cause whose very existence is now threatened by Brexit.

Scotland has taken a different course. Scotland has, historically and through present legislation, sought to establish a foundation of constitutionality in the protection and application of Human Rights, welfare and equality. According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, in Scotland:

“Human dignity is an overarching concept in human rights law. Protecting dignity means respecting and fulfilling a range of human rights, particularly rights to a minimum standard of living, autonomy and cultural participation. Social security is crucial to the fulfillment of these rights”.

Scotland has many challenges to confront, not least an ageing population which leaves her with a demographic deficit in terms of the dramatic increases in non- working class population with rises up to 73% predicted for areas such as Moray over the next thirty years. A Scottish Government analysis found the average EU citizen in Scotland adds £10,400 to government revenue and £34,400 to GDP each year – contributing around £4.4 billion to the economy every year. While the Nation is being held hostage under the threat of limited supply of medicines and food in as early as five weeks’ time, the DUP’s Sammy Wilson urges the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford to “go to the chippy”. After 70 years of prosperity, progress and peace in Europe, let us ensure it does not come to that. Scotland deserves better than martial law imposed by the monocled Politburo of the ERG and tragically spectated on by the limp and fractured Labour benches.It is now, more than ever, absolutely crucial that Scotland is able to map her own destiny and ensure that anyone who is willing to make a home here and contribute to the life, culture and economy of this Nation is welcomed and their talents and skills are enriched and supported to the benefit of all.

Brexit does not have to happen. And, of it does, we, in Scotland have no obligation, historical or constitutional, to join our neighbours on this most extraordinary Titanic adventure.

Comments (26)

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  1. Welsh Sion says:

    I would agree with much here, but I believe there to be an omission in this sentence:

    “Out of the 650 Members of Parliament, the SNP and the Green Party have been the only two groups to maintain a solid and ethical stance of opposition. ”

    Where is the mention of Plaid Cymru (a larger grouping at Westminster than the sole Green representative) and the national party of a country supposedly an equal partner in this ‘family of nations’ (aka the Disunited Kingdumb)?

    Too often side-lined by our enemies and MSM, one expects better from our friends and allies.

    Yours, aye.

    A Welsh Remainer and Member of both PC and SNP

    1. Chris Connolly says:

      That looks like a good point to me. Maybe the Rugby Union result had something to do with PC not appearing in the article.

      Other than that just one quibble. The British Empire (and it’s what the generation one step beyond mine used to call “Empire Day” today) was by no means simply an English creation. Those street names in Glasgow’s Merchant City come from families who did very well out of the slave trade and profited from exploiting local people in Africa and in South America. Isn’t there a book about this conveniently-forgotten aspect of Scottish history, called “It Wisnae Us?”

      The English working class, or at least a very significant %, let themselves down badly over Brexit but there are plenty of Scots whose version of patriotism spills over into anti-Englishness just as those English Brexiteers national chauvinism too often manifests itself in xenophobia.

      1. Welsh Sion says:

        FYI, from Plaid Cym,ru today, 12 March 2019:

        Dear Member,

        With Brexit continuing to cause havoc at Westminster, here’s a brief update on Plaid Cymru’s work as we defend our country from the dangers of leaving the European Union without a deal.

        Leaving the EU without a deal would be a disaster for Wales. Here are five ways Plaid Cymru is safeguarding Wales against ‘no deal’.

        We put forward an amendment with the SNP in Westminster on 15 January calling for an extension of Article 50 to avoid the damage ‘no deal’ would cause to Wales and Scotland

        We laid down a successful motion in the Assembly on 16 January to reject ‘no deal’ under any circumstances

        We put forward an amendment to the Welsh-Scottish governments’ joint motion on 5 March unequivocally calling for a People’s Vote to take ‘no deal’ off the table for good

        All our MPs will vote against ‘no deal’ this week and will vote in favour of extending Article 50

        We are continuing our campaign for a People’s Vote – the only way of stopping ‘no deal’ for good

  2. w.b. robertson says:

    so in five weeks time there will be shortages of medicines and the supermarket shelves will be empty!. Get real.
    and remember something like a million Scots did not vote remain.

    1. Chris Connolly says:

      We’re likely to find out soon enough. You might be back here 5 weeks after Brexit Day eating a big slice of humble pie, Bill; in fact humble pie might be the only kind of pie left in your fridge by then.

    2. Alasdair Macdonald says:

      What a vacuous comment!

      Over 16 million people voted Remain, but you are not arguing for their position

    3. Wul says:

      W.B. Shortages of medicines already happening. My sister is a nurse in elderly care and reports grave shortages of medicines needed for palliative care.

      How could you sever decades-old trade deals with 27 other countries, with no alternative arrangement in place, and expect things to remain as normal? Oh yeah, I forgot….we’re British dammit!

  3. William Ross says:

    Alastair

    There is nothing vacuous about the comment made by w.b.robertson. This is a completely hysterical article. It is indeed time to get real. The point for you to remember is that the 23 June 2016 referendum was about a British question, addressed to the British people. The 16 million UK Remainers lost but the 1 million Scots Leavers won. Even if the 1 million Leavers had lost they should not be trashed in the typical Bella fashion. Remember that there are close to half a million Yessers in that lot.

    I suppose that one day you expect there to be another Indyref when a majority of Scots vote Yes and a ( certainly sizeable ) minority will vote No. Perhaps it will be 52 to 48 for Yes? In that case the minority will have lost and referendums do produce losers. It is in their nature. It used to called “democracy”.

    William

    1. Stephen McLarty says:

      3 million non UK EU citizens were denied a vote in the so called democratic referendum of 2016. The large majority of these paying their taxes. That alone negates the result of the EU referendum.

  4. William Ross says:

    Stephen

    Non-UK citizens should not be voting in any UK election. That would be the rule in any normal country. How many resident Canadians vote in US elections?

    Besides how do you know how the EU citizens would have voted? Remember Macron will not allow the French a Frexit referendum becuase he knows what the result would be. Who said:” There is no democracy against the EU Treaties”.

    William

    1. Me Bungo Pony says:

      The majority of Scots voted Yes in 2014. The overwhelming majority of rUK and EU nationals voted No therefore denying the Scottish majority their choice. Is that acceptable and, if so, why is it then acceptable to deny EU citizens resident and paying taxes in the UK a vote in the EU referendum?

  5. milgram says:

    I don’t understand why so much digital ink gets expended over Labour and Brexit. The whole thing is a Home Counties Tory psychodrama foisted on the rest of us. An epic of obsession stretching over 30+ years and which, with a bit of luck, will at least tear their party apart and leave neither of their two factions happy. In the absence of an obvious escape for the rest of us let them at least own their mess for the next 30 years.
    It’s not like Corbyn is hiding the magic Stop Brexit button from anyone. Old Labour figures (Will Straw, Alan Milburn) ran and lost a complacent, cowardly campaign (where were the calls for the rights of resident non-UK EU citizens then? Nowhere) against obnoxious liars that had the full support of media factions (because that media is run by Home Counties Tories with a stake in the idiot psychodrama). Labour’s Peoples Vote faction care so much about the rights of resident non-UK EU citizens that their first move after the referendum loss was to spend months trying to unseat their leader (so the MP for Morningside can take a walk when he claims concern about the 3 million now).
    It’s pointless constitutional noodling with huge associated damage but it’s sucking all the time and attention that should be going towards retooling society for the fight against Climate Breakdown, so as much as it is a shit idea implemented badly, it needs done with.

  6. William Ross says:

    MBP

    EU citizens should not have been voting in our 2014 referendum because they are foreigners. My wife did not vote because she is Venezuelan. There is nothing negative in being a foreigner. If Scotland had been independent and could have called on Scottish nationality rules, then RUK residents in Scotland should not have voted and Scottish nationals abroad should have ( they were likely to be heavily “No” unfortunately). However, since we have (had) no legal concept of Scottish nationality, the only recourse was to have British residents in Scotland vote.

    The results may have been unfortunate but there was no practical alternative. This was something Alex fully realised.

    William

    1. Me Bungo Pony says:

      I didn’t ask if it was “practical”, only if it was acceptable. EU citizens who reside and pay taxes in the UK while staffing our public services, harvesting our fields and enriching our private sector are denied a voice in their own future. Meanwhile, rUK subjects can get full political rights to deny Scots their independence. The two cannot be reconciled. If the latter is acceptable then the former is unacceptable. Otherwise it is discrimination.

    2. Stephen McLarty says:

      William

      RUK citizens and EU citizens quite rightly were given the right to vote in the Scottish Independence referendum because they were living and working here and had a commitment to this country. As well as the taxes, as previously mentioned. Nationality is secondary. Residency and contribution are the main factors to voting rights as far as I am concerned. And remember in the event of a successful outcome for us independence supporters, it would have been certain that it would have been an SNP government leading the way and the position was to reapply for membership of the EU. Therefore the impact on EU citizens and there right to residency in Scotland would have been profound.

  7. William Ross says:

    MBP

    Let me re-iterate, EU citizens should never ever vote in our elections or referenda of any kind because they are foreigners. The fact that they pay taxes has absolutely nothing to do with it. We have thousands of Norwegians, Americans and Canadians who have lived here for years, raised their families and paid millions and taxes and never think of voting. Nor should they. I lived in the USA for seven years and paid taxes up and down. Should I have been able to vote? A ridiculous notion!

    In 2014 we had no way to restrict the franchise to Scottish nationals. Unworkable, impossible undo-able. That is why it did not happen. Maybe you have been nursing a secret solution?

    William

    1. Willie says:

      At least when you lived in the US and did not have a vote you would at least have been able to buy a gun William Ross.

      Here you don’t get a vote nor can you buy a gun. Ridiculous of course don’t you think William?

    2. Me Bungo Pony says:

      There is nothing “ridiculous” about being able to vote in the country you have made your home. There might be rules restricting it or denoting who can and cannot vote, but it is not “ridiculous”.

      Can you expand on that “secret solution” you imagine I have been nursing? It sounds sinister.

  8. William Ross says:

    MBP

    It is inherently ridiculous that foreigners can vote in the UK. Voting is for national citizens.

    With regard to my “sinister” suggestion, I was just thinking that you were whining about Non- Scottish RUK citizens voting in Indyref 1 2014, and I wondered if you had come up with any conceivable solution that would have allowed us to avoid that ( ie by excluding such non-Scottish nationals) when we have ( and had) no legal concept of Scottish nationality? I guess that you have no solution?

    William

    1. Me Bungo Pony says:

      To vote in a UK General Election you must be a British, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizen. So the law makers of the UK don’t seem to find the idea of “foreigners” voting in UK elections “inherently ridiculous”. Citizens of 54 Commonwealth countries can vote in UK elections. That is twice as many countries as there are independent EU member states. So, as I said, rules may regulate who can and cannot vote in national elections, but the idea of “foreigners” voting is perfectly reasonable.

      As to my alleged “whining”; I was not. I merely pointed out an anomaly in you logic. As to how we “could” decide who “could” vote in the next indyref; it could be part of voter registration. Decide on the parameters, ask people to tick the box if they qualify (with obvious checks for fraudulent claims with the usual penalties) and Bob’s your uncle. I’m not saying we should …. but we could.

  9. William Ross says:

    MBP and Stephen

    To close out ( for me) on this chain:

    Stephen: you are quite wrong about the rationale behind which nationalities got the vote in 2014. British nationals and EU citizens resident in Scotland voted.
    It had nothing to do with people ” living working and paying taxes ” in Scotland. That is Alyn Smith tripe. You could be a resident American paying taxes for a 100 years and never sniff a vote. ( and quite right too)

    MBP:

    You are right that Irish citizens and a small number of Commonwealth citizens vote in our elections. There is a reason for that. We were in Union with the Irish for over 100 years, and England effectively ruled most of Ireland since the Middle Ages. These are our very close cousins and when the Free State began in 1922 there were large Irish populations living in the UK. Neither are the numbers of Irish citizens resident in the UK ever enough to sway a democratic result. Irish voting in UK elections is the ( very acceptable) exception which proves the rule: Nationals vote in national elections.

    William

    1. Me Bungo Pony says:

      I think you just have to admit defeat on this one William. Your attempt to justify your position in the above post was tortuous to say the least.

      There are more than 3 million Commonwealth citizens eligible to vote in the UK. Not a small number. There are also up to 800,000 Irish citizens eligible. Not an insignificant amount. Your justification for allowing the Irish to vote as opposed to anyone else was laughable. To take it to its logical conclusion, every citizen of Australia, Canada (though you specifically excluded Canadians in a previous post on this thread) and New Zealand should be given the same rights. To be fair, as Commonwealth citizens, they already have those rights. However, as former colonies of Mother England, USA citizens should also have the vote according to your logic.

      The Irish are not “the exception that proves the rule” in regards to your argument. They are the norm that proves your views on the franchise regarding the Brexit vote are based on increasing the chances of a Leave vote and nothing to do with law, practicality or normal, reasonable practice.

    2. Me Bungo Pony says:

      William, I don’t think even you believe most of what you say in your attempts to justify your position.

      You say “foreigners” shouldn’t have a vote …. except if they’re the right “foreigners” …. in which case it’s perfectly alright. According to you, Indians should be allowed to vote on …. coz of the Raj and stuff; Aussies should be allowed to vote …. coz of Botany Bay and stuff; the millions of other Commonwealth citizens resident in the UK should be allowed to vote …. coz of Empire and stuff; and the 800,000 Irish should be allowed to vote on it …. coz they were subjugated by England centuries ago and only got their independence 100 years ago. But EU citizens resident in the UK should never be given a vote under any circumstances (apart from being Irish) …. coz they’re “foreigners” and it would be “ridiculous” …. apparently.

      Why don’t you just admit you don’t want EU citizens getting a vote on Brexit because you know they would overwhelingly vote against it and make it more difficult to leave the EU. Nothing to do with principles or practicalities ; just plain old simple self interest. If EU citizens are barred from voting on Brexit because the overwhelming majority would vote against it, then rUK citizens should not be allowed to vote on Scottish independence for the same reason. I believe both groups should be allowed to vote on both issues as I like to be consistent. You wish to discriminate and try to justify it with an inconsistent argument. My unlike the general Brexiteer approach to the whole issue of Brexit.

      1. Me Bungo Pony says:

        For goodness sake!!!

        I waited all day for that first post to appear and, when it didn’t, I assumed it was lost to the ether and posted the second to replace it. Now the first one has appeared!!!

        Apologies for that.

  10. William Ross says:

    MBP

    I think the rationale for Irish citizens voting is totally sound as a very special case. Might not something similiar happen with RUK citizens and vice versa in the event of Scottish independence?

    I looked into “qualifying Commonwealth citizen” and it is hard to see who exactly qualifies. One thing is abundantly clear, Commonwealth citizens seeking to work in the UK have no free movement rights and must go through the work visa system. If there are currrently 3 million Commonwealth citizens (who are not simultaneously Britsh citizens) eligible to vote then I am surprised. And I am not for this.

    Lets stand back for a moment. Let assume I am transferred to Oslo, and in 2021 there is an Norwegian referendum on whether to stay in EEA or not. If Norway allows me to vote it will be ridiculous because I will be a mere visitor. The joke will be on Norway. It will not be a serious country.

    William

    1. Me Bungo Pony says:

      All I’m saying, William, is that countries can decide who does and doesn’t have a vote for themselves. They can have whatever qualifying criteria they want. And if Norway decided you qualified, that is fine. Being a sovereign country, they can make that decision and it would not mean they are “not a serious country”. EU citizens having a vote in a Brexit referendum is no more “ridiculous”, in principle, than allowing rUK subjects a vote in a Scottish independence referendum.

      We have a difference of opinion here. That’s all.

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