The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Consequences of Britain’s Vote to Leave the EU

European Union Flag

Wow, I really didn’t think this would happen.

Quick thoughts:

  1. I assume that Cameron is done and there will be a new Conservative leader. (Update: And he’s gone. This is just a thing, not a good thing or bad thing, until we know who replaces him.)
  2. There may be a general election. I hope so.
  3. This is going to be really bad for ordinary Brits IF the Conservatives remain in power because there are a lot of worker and environment protections and so on that the Conservatives want to scrap.
  4. I expect the EU to try to be very vindictive. Bear in mind, however, that Britain buys more EU goods than the other way around. Still, Brussels can’t let this pass without punishing Britain severely, lest other nations get the same idea.
  5. A lot of other nations will be in a better position if they leave: Greece, Italy, Spain, and Finland top the list, but even, say, France, might be better off. So, yes, this is an existential threat to Brussels.
  6. Brussels should take this is as a rebuke of its anti-democratic ways and of its austerity policies, BUT current politicians won’t be able to. If they are replaced, however, there is some hope for serious democratic fixes to the EU. Hope is not the same thing as “I expect.”
  7. Because the EU is a neoliberal organization, this could be to Britain’s benefit IF Corbyn winds up in charge. The best case scenario right now is if Cameron steps down, a new Conservative leader is elected, there is an election, and Labour wins.
  8. But the same newspapers and media outlets who were pro-Remain will still be against Corbyn, because they actually like the idea of losing labor, environmental protections, and so on.
  9. The leave campaign was run on a pretty racist and anti-immigrant basis. That creates a rather ugly mandate. It will be up to Labour and Corbyn to turn this into something hopeful and good, rather than something stupid and nasty.

I’ll be curious to see if attempts are made to keep Britain in the EU regardless, also.

Still, this is a big deal, and historic. It will be VERY interesting to see how it plays out.

Update: This graphic is interesting but completely unsurprising.

Basically, people who are doing well voted for the status quo, those who aren’t voted against. Scotland doesn’t trust London to run Scotland (which should be no surprise) and wants Brussels as a counter-weight. (Scotland should have left Britain and stayed in the EU, I’d judge).

So be it. If you don’t make your country work for at least the majority, I will hear no complaints when the majority pulls the rug out.


And now the Article 50 Process will be invoked. Here’s the text in full:

Article 50

1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.

2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.

3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.

A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.

The kicker is in numbers 2 and 4: It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.


A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

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Brexit Open Thread


More on Post Brexit and Why It Happened


  1. markfromireland

    07:03 24/06/2016 UK time

    All constituencies now declared. Final result:

    Leave: Vote share 51.9% Votes 17,410,742 Votes

    Remain: Vote share 48.1% Votes 16,141,241 Votes

    Total electorate: 46,501,241

    Turnout: 72.2%

    Rejected ballots (spoiled votes): 26,033

  2. Some Guy

    Don’t forget possible ramifications in Ireland. I well remember crossing the border between the Republic and the North in 1983 – bulletproof glass, a walled in, reversing proof, zigzag path for cars, and heavily armed, deadly serious guards.

    I’m not saying we will see that again but brexit will cause challenges in Northern Ireland as well – it might not be only Scotland that has a referendum in its future.

    I wonder how vindictive the EU will really be. Greece is one thing, the U.K. is another, and the leave forces have a large English-speaking megaphone that Greece never had. There is a point at which squeezing harder just pushes more sand through your fingers and (longshot) the EU may realize that at some point. For sure, they may go with vindictive, but I don’t think it is certain.

    Lastly, I don’t agree that being anti-immigrant is ‘ugly’, ‘stupid’ or ‘nasty’. On the contrary, I believe the insistence that it is causes a lot of the ugliness (and also the underestimate of the leave vote by polls).

  3. Ian Welsh

    I divided racist and anti-immgrant into two parts for a reason. That said, I think the UKIP campaign was both.

  4. Mike

    I don’t see much chance of Corbyn becoming PM. The traditional Labour voters went for Brexit, and they voted against what he advised. Also the media is already tearing him to shreds and claiming that he might lose his position as leader. Sadly I think he will be eaten up.

    I dread to think what the Tories will do in the next four years. Goodbye Welfare State. Goodbye Employee Rights.

  5. markfromireland

    Ian a lot of links so this will trigger moderation but it’ll be important to know what the relevant treaties say and not what some journalists thinks what some spindoctor thinks they say:

    This is the text of Article 238 of the treaty of Lisbon:

    Article 238

    1. Where it is required to act by a simple majority, the Council shall act by a majority of its component members.

    2. By way of derogation from Article 16(4) of the Treaty on European Union, as from 1 November 2014 and subject to the provisions laid down in the Protocol on transitional provisions, where the Council does not act on a proposal from the Commission or from the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the qualified majority shall be defined as at least 72% of the members of the Council, representing Member States comprising at least 65% of the population of the Union.

    3. As from 1 November 2014 and subject to the provisions laid down in the Protocol on transitional provisions, in cases where, under the Treaties, not all the members of the Council participate in voting, a qualified majority shall be defined as follows:

    (a) A qualified majority shall be defined as at least 55% of the members of the Council representing the participating Member States, comprising at least 65% of the population of these States.

    A blocking minority must include at least the minimum number of Council members representing more than 35% of the population of the participating Member States, plus one member, failing which the qualified majority shall be deemed attained;

    (b) By way of derogation from point (a), when the Council does not act on a proposal from the Commission or from the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the qualified majority shall be defined as at least 72% of the members of the Council representing Member States comprising at least 65% of the population of these States.

    4. Abstentions by Members present in person or represented shall not prevent the adoption by the Council of acts which require unanimity.

    If you’re one of the (many) who haven’t a clue how the EU institutions work or what the relevant provisions of the relevant treaties are I suggest you toddle along to the Europedia.

    Here’s a direct link to his discussion of the legislative provisions:

    4.3. The EU’s legislative procedure

    Here’s the Euro-Lex page with links to the various relevant treaties currently in force:

    Treaties currently in force – EUR-Lex

    Here’re links to some Europedia searches on the relevant treaties:

    In all of this remember that the exit process must be completed within TWO YEARS of Article 50 being invoked.

  6. markfromireland

    @ Mike June 24, 2016

    Equally Corbyn could say to the parliamentary party – “my instincts were right and yours were wrong”

    As to what the Tories will do. Four the next few years* they’re going to be trying desperately to avoid being unseated. I don’t see them leaving themselves open to being accused of wanting what the EU wants only worse. I could of course be completely wrong about that.

    I don’t see either Cameron or Osborne lasting long. Especially not Osborne whose crude tactics including threatening a “punishment budget” have been bitterly resented.

    *Sorry I can never resist a pun.

  7. markfromireland

    So who said “vote to stay” to the British electorate:

    Barack Obama, Various EU institutional heads, Pretty much the entire economic establishment and economic punditry. The Blairite wing of the Labour Party. About ½ the tory establishment. The Liberal Democrats (not that anyone gives a shit about what that pack of traitorous losers thinks). Most of the Trade Union establishment.

    Even the terror card was played with Nato Sec Gen. Stoltenberg saying that Britain remaining in was essential for the war against terror.

    None of it worked. With any luck we’ll see traditional tories and traditional socialists take up the cudgels against globalisation and the neo-liberal agenda.

    A trade union movement and politicians that said “actually we don’t need to import cheap labour we need to pay a decent wage to people already here” might be well placed to reap substantial political rewards

  8. different clue

    I can only speculate on why two areas so different as London and Scotland would both have more Remain votes than Leave votes.

    My speculation is this: Londoners know that London makes its money handling money for euro-connected bussinesses. Lose the connection? Lose the money.

    Whereas Scotland sees EU membership as the only shred of protection Scotland has from total Yeltsinization of every last stealable lootable strippable thing left in Scotland. And if UK leaves EU, then Scotland has zero protection from privatizationist aggression emanating from Financialist Overlords based in the City of London.

    But people who are actually FROM the UK would have actual KNOWledge of why Scotland and London both majority-voted to remain. I wonder what UK persons might tell us.

  9. There were forces in Brussels that were specifically hoping for this outcome *to* have someone to make an example of without endangering the Euro currency project directly. That’s the only thing that can explain Juncker’s behaviour, for example.

  10. markfromireland

    Regional Breakdown

    Scotland: remain 62%

    Wales: leave 52.5%

    Northern Ireland: remain 55.8%

    London: remain 59.9%

    Rest of England: leave 57%

    London is surprising nearly 60 is a convincing result but it’s still a lot less than the 70%+ that was being predicted.

  11. markfromireland

    one final one from me before I head out to get all the usual everyday stuff done:

    EU referendum: Trade curbs ‘foolish’ if UK votes Leave, says German industry – BBC News:

    A German industry boss has said it would be “very, very foolish” if the EU imposes trade barriers on the UK in the event it votes to leave the EU.

    Markus Kerber, the head of the influential BDI which represents German industry, said his organisation would make the case against such measures.

    He said any introduction of tariffs would be “regression to times we thought we’d left behind in the 1970s”.

    The UK’s referendum on whether to leave the EU will be held on Thursday.

    “Imposing trade barriers, imposing protectionist measures between our two countries – or between the two political centres, the European Union on the one hand and the UK on the other – would be a very, very foolish thing in the 21st Century,” Mr Kerber told the BBC’s World Service.

    “The BDI would urge politicians on both sides to come up with a trade regime that enables us to uphold and maintain the levels of trade we have, although it will become more difficult.”

    Mr Kerber added that any introduction of tariffs would lead to job losses in Germany and the UK.

    He said a vote to leave the EU would lead to a “serious disruption” to the German-UK economic relationship, describing it “as if a relative had left the family”.

    I don’t see the people who fund the EU putting up with the likes of Tusk and Juncker effing it up further. For the Germans to continue to export they’ll want to pour lots of oil on troubled waters.

  12. V. Arnold

    I posted this over at MoA:
    I wouldn’t be getting too exuberant here; 48% – 51.7%. A country truly divided with barely a majority win.
    I hope they (Brits) leave; at least 3 maybe 4 other EU states are talking about leaving; so, it’s begun, but, some very slimy characters with lots to lose are going to do everything they can to change the outcome.
    If, in the end, they fail to stop the exit, “we” win. We being the working stiffs, the ones usually cheated and robbed by the neo-liberal scum.

  13. Tom

    ‘Brexit’ to be followed by Grexit. Departugal. Italeave. Fruckoff. Czechout. Oustria. Finish. Slovakout. Latervia. Byegium

    This is what is flowing around Twitter.

    Lets see if it goes that way.

  14. The next problem is with the details, Europe wants to punish the UK – but if they do so, exporting to EU will see a nasty short drop – which will mean a recession in Germany. and remember, the South still wants in because there the ones needing the money.

    some notes:
    1. the core London was 70% in favor, but East London was not.
    2. there was nothing on a American news shows – instead the important story was that we had fire down here. what were the majors thinking?
    3. no one expects this to lead to Lehman Brothers in 2008. nobody expected leave to win either. there is not a very large chance that it will, but ” the experts are all wrong” is the mantra.
    4. I did not hear for a much about appeasement’s for the suffering of remaining. maybe you heard something, but I doubt it. basically the leadership of the Tory party was way too confident. insert a view toos in that.
    5. again I will point out the coming election is going to be interesting, because the Labour Party has moved left, Scotland may be out, and the Tory party is going to be in full Thatcherite mode. LD party may again get a search of an expected voters. UKIP will be the number three party. it is going to be interesting indeed.

  15. V. Arnold

    And, I do not think it hyperbolic to say the Brexit vote signals the end of the EU.
    Losing sovereignty is not understood by those who remain sovereign…
    The domino effect is already started.

  16. Brian

    From the NYT a few days ago:

    If Britons do vote in a referendum on Thursday to leave the European Union, they can expect a tough and unforgiving response, with capitals across the Continent intent on deterring other countries from following the British example, European officials and analysts said.

    In other words, Britain will be made to suffer for its choice.

  17. Salty

    Without speaking too strictly about the vote or its consequences, I have noticed a dispiriting trend amongst the people who comment on these sorts of things on the internet. They are lamenting the stupidity of their people, frequently talking about drinking, and so on.

    These are the people who claim to be liberal (whatever that actually means anymore).

    Liberals really don’t seem to like democracy, do they?

  18. The S&P is going to rebound higher – the market thinks all the bad news is out.

  19. Hugh

    Saw Gillian Tett of the FT on cable news laying out the CW: the elites are shocked that the rubes behaved so “irrationally”, that is did something other than what the elites were directing them to do. The one place where she did veer into actual information was when she pointed out that the UK’s dislike of the EU was about middle of the pack compared to other EU members and, interestingly, it is higher in France.

    France and the Netherlands could well be the next two countries where there is a major push, mostly by anti-immigrant forces, for an exit referendum. Hollande’s recent attempts to jam labor “reforms” meant to gut labor protections could also play into the hands of the exiters.

    It really is amazing how stone cold deaf the elites are, both here and in Europe. Trump and Sanders here, Brexit in Europe, ordinary citizens have been telling the elites that the system is broken, it’s rigged, it doesn’t work for the many, it doesn’t even try to listen to the many, it is looting them, and the elites continue to act as if a little PR and maybe some judicious voter suppression are all that is needed to deal with the rubes and keep the status quo intact.

    I have said this before. It was easy to be a European when the economy was good and there were no major external stressors, like immigration, but those times have been gone for several years. The EU was finished and the façade of unity was destroyed when the EU failed to deal with Greece As A European Problem. Suddenly, Europe was gone, and it all became about profligate Greek borrowers and virtuous German lenders. And it wasn’t just the total reversion to nationalities when the going got tough, but the sheer unadulterated malicious hypocrisy of the destruction of an EU member, Greece, as cover for what was, in fact, a backdoor bailout of German and French banks.

    Then there were all the weird dynamics of Merkel’s punitive and draconian policies with regard to her fellow “Europeans” the Greeks, her welcoming of millions of non-European Syrian and other refugees in the name of Europe, and then her subsequent attempts to foist as many of these as possible on to other member states. Europe is fracturing along a dozen different faultlines. Between the elites and the non-elites, the rich and political classes on one hand and everyone else on the other, between Germany and everyone else: Greece, the UK, the PIIGS/Southern Tier, Poland and the East, all of this exacerbated and intensified by the double whammy of neoliberalism and immigration.

    Much as in the US what we see is the complete failure of the political classes and rich (personified by both Trump and Clinton), but more than this, their betrayal of the rest of us. That will not change for the UK simply because it leaves the EU. Its citizens will still have to deal with its endlessly corrupt and self-perpetuating class system. And if you want to indulge in the game of nationalities, the country most responsible for the disintegration of Europe is Germany. That is really ironic considering that Germany is considered the core of Europe. But instead of exercising real leadership, look at what a bunch of fuckups Merkel and her neoliberal clique have been. Their modus operandi has been to create problems and then to dump them on everyone else. Germany didn’t just screw over the Greeks. It stuck it to the Irish as well when it got the Irish government to take over the country’s banks and so put the Irish people on the hook for the German banks that had been bankrolling them (and would have taken heavy losses if they had been allowed to go under, i.e. put through bankruptcy, as they should have been). It’s been screwing everybody preaching the doctrine of austerity. Why anyone would follow the German political classes (as opposed to ordinary Germans) is beyond me. They have had an unparalleled and atrociously bad track record–for their neighbors and ultimately for ordinary Germans–in both politics and economics for the last one hundred years.

  20. jsn

    This is the beginning of change but TPTB will not advance in the direction of the statute included above unless the voters force them to.

    The NeoLiberal powers have considered themselves above the law for over a decade and will ignore electoral outcomes as long as they have the power to do so.

    While their legitimacy is quickly eroding, there is still no organized threat to central police and military power as wielded by entrenched NeoLibs. This is another chink in the armor, but it isn’t yet a wound, it seems to me.

  21. Hugh

    I should add how exactly is “Europe” going to punish the UK. Hollande is fighting for his political survival. Germany needs exports to the UK. The East is distancing itself from the EU from within the EU. The Southern Tier is still being treated like trailer trash and austerity still isn’t working. I mean where is this “Europe” that is going to punish the UK. Are we really just talking about the Euro-bureaucracy? Yes, they are that out of touch, but how effective can they be with the whole construction of Europe that they have fucked up falling down around their ears?

  22. EGrise


    Off-topic, but why do you consider the Liberal Democrats a “pack of traitorous losers”? Is it because of the coalition government with the Conservatives? Just curious, I’m an American with a very limited knowledge of UK politics.

  23. DG

    Hugh – good analysis. Learnt more from this page than all the newspapers this morning.

  24. markfromireland

    @ EGrise June 24, 2016

    Is it because of the coalition government with the Conservatives?

    Yes. Under Clegg they went into coalition with an appallingly right-wing Tory party. They voted for, supported, and implemented policies inimical to the platform on which they were elected. They also stabbed the most vulnerable sections of the community repeatedly in the back.

    The level of suffering they’ve caused both directly and indirectly is appalling.

    Fuck ’em.

    They have eight MPs left down from fifty seven. That’s eight too many.

  25. V. Arnold

    Way off topic; Bernie will vote for Hillary; fuck you Bernie; rot in hell…

  26. nihil obstet

    The elites award themselves as many mulligans as they need to win. If I were betting, I’d bet that there will be consultation and negotiation theater between the British government and Brussels, with lots of threats of specific dire consequences for Britain if the exit goes through. Then there will be an announcement of an agreement for Britain to stay in the EU that supposedly addresses British concerns. The new agreement will get a vote. If it’s “stay”, Brexit is over. If it’s still “go”, there’s another round of theater. And so on until they get the “stay” vote they want.

    Cynically, I think what the British people want is as irrelevant as what the Greek people want.

  27. Pelham

    Given the fact that diversity tends to render communities distrustful and dysfunctional, as Robert Putnam’s self-suppressed work on the subject has demonstrated, is opposition to immigration necessarily ugly?

  28. Peter*

    It’s probably a good thing the US still has their thumb firmly on the Germans or they might be tempted to rearm and attempt to punish the Brits for beginning the destruction of their little cabal, the EU. Greece and Spain had little chance to confront or exit this hegemonic economic power but the UK is another story and the Right has shown just how feeble the Left in Europe has shown itself to be.

  29. jawbone

    RE: All the nations Germany and the austerity followers shafted and continues to shaft —

    Don’t forget Spain, Portugal, Italy…. Which nations didn’t get the shaft?

  30. jawbone

    RE: All the nations Germany and the austerity followers shafted and continue to shaft —

    Don’t forget Spain, Portugal, Italy….

    Which nations didn’t get the shaft?

  31. Foppe

    Wrt the Netherlands: not much can happen there by way of referendums, at least not short-term. (Advisory) Referendums can only be called when there is a piece of legislation (or a treaty) being proposed; that will probably not be the case for a while.

  32. EGrise

    @markfromireland: Thanks!

  33. mcarson

    Was interesting to see British news clip on Chris Hayes today talking about the leave vote. According to the presenter there were ads saying UK spent $X per day on the EU & if they left the money could be spent on the NIH. The NIH has suffered severe cuts the last few years, Dr’s. saying they are stretched so thin as to be unsafe, & wait times increasing. News person asked leave advocate if he would promise all savings would go to NIH, leave advocate said it didn’t really work that way, the whole heavily advertised argument was unfortunate, since it wasn’t true. I wonder how many leave voters were thinking about this.

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