When will the United Kingdom invoke Article 50?

by on July 5, 2016 at 1:24 am in Current Affairs, Games, Law, Political Science, Uncategorized | Permalink

Or will it at all?

With the resignations of Cameron, Boris Johnson, and now Farage, it seems few leading politicians are keen to “own” Brexit and its consequences.  If those individuals wish to step back from accepting the consequences of Brexit, might that tendency spread more generally?

If your thoughts run along the lines of “they have to do this, otherwise there will be violence in the streets,” or “they have to proceed with Article 50, otherwise British government will have no legitimacy,” I say Beware The They!

They, they, they.  Try he and she.  Word on the street these days is that Article 50 won’t even be seriously considered before the French and German elections, which means Fall 2017 at the earliest.  OK, so let’s say it is October 2017, and Brexit is more unpopular because the intervening uncertainty has created a recession.  Do you, as an individual British legislator, wish to claim an ownership of the process at that point?  If Farage didn’t want to own it, and so quickly realized that, why should you pick up the bag?  Yes I know most individual constituencies, evaluated as constituencies, were pro-Brexit.  But they were also anti-recession and anti-chaos, and so you must choose between giving them the means they want and giving them the ends they want.

It’s already being debated whether Article 50 invocation requires an Act of Parliament or not.  I can’t judge the constitutional issue (can anyone?), but practically speaking it seems to me that if Parliament says it requires their explicit consent than it does.  Similarly, if Parliament washes its hands of the matter, who or what can overrule them and make them vote if they don’t want to?  So I see a few scenarios in this multi-stage game:

1. Parliament wants no vote in the matter, and claims it doesn’t have to vote.  In this scenario, the new PM may not act on it either.  Note that Theresa May was originally pro-Remain, she will believe that Article 50 will worsen the recession and thus her electoral prospects, and she wouldn’t have parliamentary approval as cover for pushing the nuclear button.  If I were in Parliament, with a moderately pro-Leave constituency, I would be rooting for this scenario.  No one acts, but everyone can blame other parties for not acting.

2. Parliament cannot run away from its voting rights, or even positively seeks to assert them.  Under this scenario, commentators may suggest that Parliament as a whole has to desire Brexit, if only to keep its legitimacy.  But recall that before the referendum, Parliament as a whole was about 3-1 pro-Remain.  Why chase after a voting right you don’t wish to have?  If Farage didn’t want to stick around for such an outcome, why should you?  So vote Remain, claim you had initially campaigned along with pro-Remain forces, claim you are sticking to your original electoral mandate, and see what happens to your political future.  Say it is “the others” who are detaching Parliament from the will of the people.

3. The 2017 PM and Cabinet take to the British people an alternative, non-EU vision of what Leave would look like, but they don’t lie too much to make it look so great.  They hold a second referendum, not on Leave vs. Remain per se, but on whether that is a satisfactory target option for a Leave scenario.  In fact they can design the plan to fail simply by being somewhat realistic.  The option fails, and the politicians claim everyone has to go back to the drawing board.  I get sick of my Twitter feed being full of so much Brexit talk for so many years, and I stop following so many British people.

4. The trickling, tortuous uncertainty through Fall 2017 is so economically costly that everyone realizes a decision must be made and soon.  “Leave” is the only decision which is focal, because of the referendum, and so Leave is set in motion and Article 50 is invoked.  You will note that this scenario, while it sounds plausible, is a bit at odds with waiting until Fall 2017 to begin with.  So the reality of waiting today has to lower the probability of this one somewhat.

5. The trickling, tortuous uncertainty through Fall 2017 is so economically costly that everyone realizes a decision must be made and soon.  “Leave” is a more focal decision, but it still takes years to negotiate and consummate, thereby ensuring the uncertainty continues to kill the British economy.  “Leave” therefore is discarded through political shenanigans and Remain rules the day because only the status quo ex ante can be brought about so quickly.

6. In the meantime, the EU does something really stupid, which includes the steady insulting of the British people and government, and almost everyone in the UK wants to leave by Fall 2017.

6b. In the meantime, Putin does something really stupid, and English opinion shifts strongly to Remain and Remain comes about through emergency national security channels.

7. In the meantime, the French and German elections require those governments to reassert at least partial control over their borders vis-a-vis immigration.  This right is then offered to the UK, if only verbally, and the support for Leave more or less collapses.  There is the beginnings of negotiation for a new EU treaty, in the meantime a bunch of EU nations including the UK break the rules of the old treaty, yet without being punished.  This strikes me as one of the more plausible scenarios.

I get how #4 and #6 pretty clearly lead to actual Brexit, as does one branch of #2, but when you look at these scenarios as a whole, I don’t think the chances for an actual Brexit are so overwhelmingly high.  The key obstacle is getting so many pro-Remain legislators to attach their names and reputations to a scenario which Johnson and Farage already are running away from.  That is just not so easy.

Didn’t the Sex Pistols sing about “…now I got a reason to be waiting”?

Yes, British legislators do have a reason to be waiting.  They are waiting.  Should that reason become stronger or weaker over time?  Why think that “weaker” is so obviously the correct predictive answer?  There is no clear deadline forcing their hand.

In the 1960s and 70s, America and the UK had riots all the time.  I’m not saying this is good!  (Though it did lead to an excellent Clash song.)  But once underway, in fact it is politically acceptable in many situations, or sometimes even politically desirable.

Addendum: Here are a few more points to consider:

a. Parliamentary systems behave very differently when off their steady-state stability path.  There is now a power vacuum, no courts to produce definitive rulings, and the executive and legislative branches of government end up as bankrupt at the same time and in the same ways.  Things are stuck and the traditional local comparative statics simply do not work.  So our usual intuitions for what is supposed to happen in British politics may not be so reliable, and indeed few people had predicted the outcomes the country has received so far, including all the resignations.

b. The status of the Queen will either go up a lot or down a lot.  Many people still believe, if only in inchoate form, that she is there for moments of constitutional crisis.  But a moment of truth is coming where she will have to cough up her creative ambiguity, or not!  If she does nothing, which I consider the more likely scenario, the monarchy will become all the more irrelevant.  If she issues a pronouncement of some kind, she will either be a grand heroine or look pretty bad.

c. In some ways the EU had taken on the “backstop” role formerly held by the British monarchy.  This is not widely understood.  And indeed without the EU, it seems British politics is quite chaotic.  This is a huge embarrassment for the Leave forces, and few if any of them foresaw this or are willing to admit this now.  But that is in fact how British politics has been evolving over decades.  To a keen reader of Bagehot, however, this does not come as a surprise, and it is another reason why the Leave vote was a huge mistake.

1 stephan July 5, 2016 at 1:39 am

Didn’t the Sex Pistols sing about “…now I got a reason to be waiting”?

They sang about “Anarchy in the UK”

2 Steve Sailer July 5, 2016 at 1:53 am

“You ever get the feeling that you’ve been had?”

— J. Lydon

3 Thiago Ribeiro July 5, 2016 at 11:14 am


4 Thiago Ribeiro July 5, 2016 at 11:42 am

That was not me. It was a pathetic attempt at imitation no sane person would ever mistake for me.

5 prognostication July 6, 2016 at 12:52 pm

So the bots are allowed to keep posting, but my posts are being deleted now? Cool.

As I tried to post before, it’s “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” A classic.

6 Unanimous July 5, 2016 at 3:58 am

Yeah, but the Berlin Wall was the reason to be waiting, and that’s gone.

7 Andre July 5, 2016 at 1:41 am

I love the idea of the queen giving some grown up speech, tossing the referendum,dissolving the parliament, and forcing a new election. Return of monarchy just in time to had power down to her grandson. Personally smacking down the leadership of all the current parties and the leave advocates who are skipping town ahead of article 50 fall out. At this point who could really stop her politically speaking?

8 dan1111 July 5, 2016 at 2:40 am

This assumes the queen opposes Brexit. There was reporting leading up to the referendum that suggested the opposite.

9 Deek July 5, 2016 at 4:01 am

If the Queen’s showing at the Scottish Parliament the other day is anything to go by, she has given up caring about such things. I know a few people who do business with her and she gets more curmudgeonly by the year.

10 Thiago Ribeiro July 5, 2016 at 7:23 am

“If the Queen’s showing at the Scottish Parliament the other day is anything to go by, she has given up caring about such things.”
Why not? She already got tenure.

11 dan1111 July 5, 2016 at 7:24 am

Heh +1

12 Unanimous July 5, 2016 at 8:02 am

The politicians (parliament) would stop her. She can only act in cases in which parliament is incapable of acting, and even then all she can do is appoint a caretaker cabinet who can only do the practical minimum to keep government functioning until an election is held in the shortest practical time. Parliament is incapable of acting when they can’t appoint a new cabinet after an old cabinet has lost the confidence of the parliament. There is little chance of anything like that occuring.

13 Barkley Rosser July 5, 2016 at 9:48 am

I do not know if it was at the Scottish parliament,but the one public speech I saw reported on BBC had her urging that people be “cautious” and “thoughtful.”

Besides the tabloid rumor before the vote that she supported Brexit,officially denied by the palace, there was also an internet meme claiming that she yelled at her stock broker on the day after the vote to “dump it all” and even used the f word in doing so. But that remains very unconfirmed.

14 MikeP July 5, 2016 at 10:36 am

Well the FTSE is up since Brexit so that was a bad call, for now.

15 MMK July 5, 2016 at 11:06 am

lol, not in USD it’s not.

16 Mark Thorson July 5, 2016 at 11:25 am

The U.S. delibrately avoided bombing the Imperial Palace during WW2 to keep Emporer Hirohito alive. This was a very smart move. Only he had the stature to order the surrender when it became apparent to everybody that all was lost. Queen Elizabeth is the only person in Britain with the stature to pull the nation back from the edge of the abyss. If she does this, she will become the most revered monarch in British history.

17 Art Deco July 5, 2016 at 1:03 pm

There is no abyss, Mark.

18 Ed July 5, 2016 at 4:22 pm

Where do you think your soul is going to end up? Pride, envy, and wrath are sending you there.

19 Alistair July 5, 2016 at 10:23 pm

I was hoping I’d make it on Lust alone.

20 JWatts July 5, 2016 at 2:27 pm

“Queen Elizabeth is the only person in Britain with the stature to pull the nation back from the edge of the abyss. ”

Brexit hardly seems a crisis on par with the Japanese position in WW2.

21 TMC July 5, 2016 at 3:23 pm

How would a ‘grown up speech’ lead to ‘tossing the referendum’?

22 JWatts July 5, 2016 at 4:15 pm

I think that comment is pure mood affiliation. The poster wants X, if someone encourages X, then they are a “grown up”. Someone discouraging X is not a “grown up”.

23 Andre July 5, 2016 at 7:20 pm

By Grown Up I only mean decisive. The leave proponents are running from issue they campaigned on for months. it would be just as politically interesting if she just tried to force Cameron to keep his promise to invoke Article 50 the next day after the referendum. Dragging their feet and never deciding one way or another until they think no one is paying attention is the childish play, but that seems where we are going, no?

24 Axa July 5, 2016 at 1:53 am

A bit of history. It took Greenland 3 years to exit the EU precedent organization: less rules, less negotiation. http://naalakkersuisut.gl/en/Naalakkersuisut/Greenland-Representation-to-the-EU/European-Union-and-Greenland/The-Greenland-Treaty-of-1985

Will Britons be faster than Greenland? Since they haven’t started, it may take more than 3 years.

25 jon July 5, 2016 at 2:13 am

Sensible observation (it always pays to be well informed) and entirely possible. Who can say?

What we do know is that a persistent and strident refusal to accept the vote will not help.

Uncertainty within Britain cannot be good for anyone, and moves toward delay or abandonment of the vote will only reinforce the broad understanding that the EU is a fundamentally illiberal and undemocratic institution.

26 John L. July 5, 2016 at 4:19 am

“and moves toward delay or abandonment of the vote will only reinforce the broad understanding that the EU is a fundamentally illiberal and undemocratic institution.”
If England persists in delaying invoking Article 50, it will only reinforce the broad understanding that England is a fundamentally illiberal and undemocratic nation and the Leave camp leaders never gave much thought to the post-referendum, their political prospects excepted.

27 Careless July 5, 2016 at 10:33 am

I’m not sure how you would draw that conclusion, given the fact that the Leave leaders aren’t in power.

28 mulp July 5, 2016 at 11:15 am

More important, the Leave leaders do not want to be the ones screwing the British by negotiating away all the things the promised voters they would keep while delivering none of the benefits they promised.

They are free lunchers like pretty much all on the right: vote for me and it’s heads we win, tails they lose.

None argued that Brexit is needed so the EU can keep out the British migrants and keep out British goods and services; given that was the promised benefit to the UK, that must be the benefit to the EU.

29 John L. July 5, 2016 at 11:16 am

Fair enough. I was thinking about “persisting” right after a new cabinet is formed, but I should have disentangled two related but by no means equal reasoning, to wit:
1) It is alredy an evidence of how illiberal and undemocratic a nation England is that people’s known will must wait until September to be, maybe, acted on. There is no good reason for the guy who called this whole mess into existence to begin with not invoke Article 50 now or go away now.
2) If, right after the new cabinet is formed, England persists in not invoking Article 50, it will prove that “the Leave camp leaders never gave much thought to the post-referendum, their political prospects excepted.”
As of now, England is making more difficult and slower than they should be.

30 JC July 5, 2016 at 2:15 am

I’m one of those who think Remain was the best option for UK but “Leave” won so UK should “Leave” the union and face the consequences, including Scotland (and eventually N.I.) independence.

Stubborn kids constantly ignore warnings from parents, dubbed and hysterical, those kids like to try themselves, they don’t want to hear from “experts” or “experienced” ones, they only learn after their hands touch the fire.

31 Koenfucius July 5, 2016 at 2:33 am


It is widely accepted that comparing the economy of a country with the finances of a household (you know, “the nation’s credit card” and that kind of stuff) is unwise.

Comparing a country, or even its electorate, with stubborn kids, who can only be educated by making them face the consequences of their actions, seems to me to be at least as unwise.

32 dan1111 July 5, 2016 at 2:49 am

Analogies are always imperfect, but they are still useful. Personally, I think people protest too much about comparing an economy to household finances. Arguments like “countries have to pay their bills” are compelling and politically inconvenient, so people want a way out. But these arguments, though they may be simplistic, are much more true than they are false.

The same goes for JC’s argument, in my view. Voters should have to bear the consequences of what they vote for, even if they voted for a bad idea. Trying to escape the consequences may have a short term benefit, but it seriously undermines democracy.

33 koenfucius July 5, 2016 at 5:09 am

I’d be interested to hear your evidence on why the argument that economies are like households is more true than false.

Leaving aside the question of the educational effectiveness of the “let them burn themselves on the stove” approach to actually bringing up children, it is hard to see what making voters ‘bear the consequences of what they vote for’ would achieve. I am not sure I’d rate the parenting skills very highly of someone who is proud that their child knows that they should not touch fire, and has got the scars on their skin to show for it.

But even if such a radical approach might have some beneficial effect, the analogy fails to apply here. What is it that remorseful Leave voters should learn from this experience? Don’t believe lies next time? Study the details of the various treaties to understand the monumental complexity of the exit process and of the rebuilding of trade relationships? Boycott a fundamentally flawed (because it did not define what ‘leaving’ actually entailed) referendum?

Government is – or at least should be – a mature affair, not one riven with petulance and impulse. Democracy is about serving the national interest, not about teaching voters a lesson.

34 dan1111 July 5, 2016 at 5:38 am

“I’d be interested to hear your evidence on why the argument that economies are like households is more true than false.”

The main argument I have heard is in relation to deficits/debt. I think that overwhelmingly, the evidence supports the idea that it is harmful for nations to “spend beyond their means”. Numerous nations have gone into decline or economic collapse after running up too much debt. More marginal changes, such as those debated after the 2008 economic crisis, are less clear. It is hard to untangle all of the related factors. But I don’t see any clear evidence that “austerity” policies failed.

“Leaving aside the question of the educational effectiveness of the “let them burn themselves on the stove” approach to actually bringing up children”

Note the limitation of the analogy: voters are not children, and should not be considered as such, and there isn’t any “parent” in this situation: some people might think they know better than voters, but there is no universally acknowledged “adult” who knows better than the population of the country.

Nonetheless, there are definitely some times when allowing children to experience the consequences of their actions is good parenting (not when they are endangering themselves, obviously).

“it is hard to see what making voters ‘bear the consequences of what they vote for’ would achieve.”

It would preserve representative democracy. If the people’s vote is ignored when they vote for the “wrong” thing, does this not fundamentally undermine the rule of the people? At first it may be done in only exceptional situations, but this impulse may lead to a set of ruling elites making decisions rather than representation.

Yes, in this case the elites are elected officials, but by asking for the public’s opinion and then ignoring it, they would be undermining the basis of their own representation of the people. And it can lead to a situation where democracy exists in form but not in substance. Ideas like “my vote makes no difference” and “there’s no real choice anyway” are already common; if they become pervasive, then people don’t vote or don’t vote for the right reasons, breaking down the system of holding elected officials accountable.

“What is it that remorseful Leave voters should learn from this experience? Don’t believe lies next time? Study the details of the various treaties to understand the monumental complexity of the exit process and of the rebuilding of trade relationships? Boycott a fundamentally flawed (because it did not define what ‘leaving’ actually entailed) referendum?”

Assuming the premise that Leave is a bad, unserious idea, then yes, the voters would learn these sorts of lessons.

“Government is – or at least should be – a mature affair, not one riven with petulance and impulse. Democracy is about serving the national interest, not about teaching voters a lesson.”

Yes, but it’s not just about “teaching voters a lesson”, it’s also about implementing the expressed will of voters. A significant portion of the British electorate legitimately wants Brexit and thinks it is in the national interest. Only some people think it is an immature, stupid idea.

My point is that Brexit should be implemented because it’s the will of the people. Some may think it’s a horrible idea with terrible consequences, but these people should not try to subvert a democratic decision, but should let democracy take its course.

35 anon July 5, 2016 at 8:39 am

Family finance economics is kind of pick and choose, isn’t it? Or fantasy family set against fantasy government.

36 anon July 5, 2016 at 9:58 am

On topic, yeah it looks like Brexit is more mess Europe doesn’t need. Is the Italian banks problem unrelated? Which direction does it point, toward the need for faster tighter integration, or toward a more republican Europe?

37 mulp July 5, 2016 at 11:26 am

Why isn’t government finance and household finance the same?

Clearly conservatives tell workers with lots of debt to demand a pay cut given conservatives claimed that by cutting taxes the government debt would go down.

(I’m 68 and thus grew up when conservatives were promising to cut taxes and make government smaller and pay off the constant increasing debt that had fallen from 90% of gdp to under 40% of gdp during my lifetime. Milton Friedman won, and Galbraith lost, with Reagan’s election. So clearly with increasing conservative control of government, everything has been on the right track for 35 years. Government is smaller. Debt is paid off. Everyone is better off.)

38 Bernard Guerrero July 5, 2016 at 12:04 pm

With regards to Brexit and the discontents of democracy, I will simply echo the words of one of our most illustrious Founders, Joe Biden.

When addressing Ollie North during the Iran-Contra hearings, Joe let fly the immortal words “The American people have the right to be wrong!” And so they do.

And so do the Brits.

39 daguix July 5, 2016 at 2:27 am

You have summed up the situation pretty well… I would also add that Brexit is against the “personal” interest of most of UK politicians. The EU institutions and Brussels lobbies offer major career opportunities they definitively do not want to be cut off.

40 daguix July 5, 2016 at 2:35 am

I would also add that, as older people were more in favor of “leaving the EU” that the younger, time will pass and the constituency will become naturally in favor of Remain. You can do the math, if people dying are 2/3 for leave and young 2/3 for remain, each year is shifting the vote of 0,6%, so in 3 years the Leave camp is outnumbered.

41 Roy LC July 5, 2016 at 3:13 am

This is assuming a true generational shift, how do we know that voters don’t switch tonanti EU as they age?

42 jim jones July 5, 2016 at 4:39 am

It is more likely that people will change their opinions as they get old, yoof are known for being Leftsit

43 Unanimous July 5, 2016 at 6:11 am

The older people who voted to leave this time voted to join when the UK joined. These people have changed their minds. How do you know more people won’t also change their mind to exit?

44 dan1111 July 5, 2016 at 6:22 am

This is incorrect. There was no equivalent vote to join the EU.

There was a vote to join the European Economic Area, which was a much more limited agreement that focused on free trade. Free trade within Europe is still very much supported in Britain; it’s other aspects of the EU (on which the public never got a direct vote) which are mainly being debated here.

45 Florian v Schack July 5, 2016 at 7:53 am

Stop it with this nonsense.

The political union has always, clearly, plainly been the aim of the EEC project. How do I know that? Because it’s directly there in the preamble for the Treaty of Rome: [The Parties] déterminés à établir les fondements d’une union sans cesse plus étroite entre les peuples européens / determined to lay the foundations for an ever closer union between the European peoples.

46 Ian Maitland July 5, 2016 at 10:42 am


Yes and no. Preambles are free. They state aspirations and make no binding commitments.

Thus it is with Jean Monnet’s political union. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since the Treaty of Rome.

Charles De Gaulle returned to power the year after the EEC was formed and he almost scrapped it. The day was saved by his anti-Americanism and the prospect that the EEC could serve as a counterweight to the US. De Gaulle wanted a “Europe des Patries.” That is what he thought he was preserving.

Ever since, the European Union has always been compromise between supranationalism and a union of nation states.

47 dan1111 July 5, 2016 at 10:50 am

The treaty the British people voted for in 1975 was very different from the union they just voted to leave. The fact that there was one sentence hinting at greater union in the future doesn’t change that.

48 M July 5, 2016 at 2:30 am

Still.an inverse weathervane….

49 Steve Sailer July 5, 2016 at 2:35 am

As I wrote before Cameron’s other referendum, the 2014 vote on Scottish secession:

“By American standards, they are strikingly lacking in checks and balances. For example, it’s absurd that Prime Minister Cameron could unilaterally grant Scotland a secession referendum predicated on a simple majority of Scottish votes and without the voters of the rest of the United Kingdom having any say. (In contrast, a majority in the San Fernando Valley voted to secede from Los Angeles in 2002, but the remainder of the city voted to keep their tax cow, so secession was blocked.) But Britain has no written constitution, so Prime Ministers, even of a minority government like Cameron’s, have arbitrary powers resembling those of the captain of a pirate ship.”


50 dan1111 July 5, 2016 at 2:55 am

Power in these questions lies in the hands of Parliament, not the Prime Minister. Neither the Scottish Referendum nor this one was actually legally binding. They are more like a recommendation of the people and are dependent on Parliament actually taking action to implement it (as we are now seeing).

Still, you are right that a lot of power can be wielded arbitrarily in Britain. And even if the Prime Minister doesn’t directly have the power to let Scotland or Britain secede, allowing the referendum places a lot of pressure on Parliament to actually do what the people decide.

51 albatross July 5, 2016 at 5:01 pm

I keep wondering what fraction of the people who are now arguing that the parliament should ignore the vote (or maybe rerun it until it comes out the right way) would have argued the same way after a Scottish independence vote. My impression is that it’s very different people who supported Brexit and Scottish independence, but I don’t really understand British politics very well, so maybe I’m just wrong.

52 Unanimous July 5, 2016 at 6:21 am

Prime ministers can be sacked instantly. They must also front parliament when parliament is sitting and face “question time”. They have no power that a parliament doesn’t continuously consent to. That is more check and balance than any American president is subject to. They are also subject to rule of law as are presidents.

53 Mondfledermaus July 5, 2016 at 10:31 am

There are plenty checks and balances. A prime minister does something that a sizable minority of his own party deeply disapproves, and he could find himself out of a job the very next day.

54 MikeP July 5, 2016 at 10:47 am

That’s not very balanced then, is it?

55 Unanimous July 5, 2016 at 11:35 pm

The prime minister looses their job because they no longer have majority support when someone else does – how is that unbalanced?

56 Troll me July 5, 2016 at 2:58 pm

Any prime minister in that kind of system can (basically) be given the boot tomorrow by either the simple majority of parliament or in many cases a simple majority of MPs in the party the are in. Checks and balances are probably stronger in the US, but I think you significantly underestimate the theoretical (assuming legislators who can think for themselves) ease of getting rid of a bad PM.

57 Unanimous July 5, 2016 at 11:37 pm

Australia has had three changes of prime minister by that method in the last six years. It’s not theoretical.

58 Michael July 5, 2016 at 2:39 am

all TC’s scenarios hinge on decision being postponed until after some European elections. I agree that if they wait for more than a year, it will be very hard to up and leave then. And this is certainly possible and the most likely pah for Remain to come about. But I don’t see how and why they should wait for so long. There will be a new conservative PM in October *this* year, and all of the candidates have promised to leave. So the best bet is still that she (whoever she is) will invoke Art. 50 then

In any case, the waiting game for elections is a weakmargument. There is *always* an election upcoming. Also, what if the Brits tarry, and the French see this as another betrayal by the elites, and vote LePen? And the Germans AfD? Brexit will look overdue then!

59 MyName July 6, 2016 at 1:24 am

They are waiting because the majority of the MPs don’t *want* Brexit and no one can make them hurry. If they’re going to lose their jobs because the uncertainty around Brexit causes a recession, or because Brexit itself causes it, then they may as well just do as they please until the next election (which is to do nothing on this issue).
The incentives to go forward with Article 50 are a bit like the incentives to pass a referendum fining all MPs $1 million. You can argue all you like that they should just get the pain over with, but the bet is if they delay long enough there’s a good chance they’ll get to keep their job and the $1 million.

60 Michael July 6, 2016 at 3:08 am

it’s not obvious the MPs have the initiative here. Turn the letters around: it’s the PM who invokes the article — either asking the Parliament or not even that. The PM has to declare what (s)he intends to do about Brexit while running for the job, and not following through with that promise has a higher cost than for an MP just sitting tight. So far, I’m not aware of a candidate sounding like postponing, but we’ll see in the next few months

should they really tarry (which is a possible option, I agree) the ball is in the field of the many enemies the EU has on the continent. Or of its friends, but those seem to be really good at kicking the can down the road…

61 carlolspln July 5, 2016 at 2:40 am

” In the meantime, Putin does something really stupid..”

You mean like placing anti missile missiles in Cuba within 90 miles of the United States?


Christ on a croissant, what a Jingo Yank you are!

You just wrote something really stupid.

62 dan1111 July 5, 2016 at 3:12 am

Given Putin’s proven desire and willingness to invade anyone nearby, I think putting defense systems near Russia is a very non-stupid idea. But that’s just me.

63 ladderff July 5, 2016 at 8:27 am

You are on a roll today danqqq

64 Troll me July 5, 2016 at 3:04 pm

Considering how stupid it would be to attack a NATO member, I highly doubt it’s necessary. Especially the missile system, which legitimately contributes to concerns about MAD, nuclear deterrent strategy, etc. But sending a few thousand NATO soldiers to Eastern Europe? Seems like a good idea to me.

65 JWatts July 5, 2016 at 3:57 pm

“Especially the missile system, which legitimately contributes to concerns about MAD, nuclear deterrent strategy, etc. But sending a few thousand NATO soldiers to Eastern Europe? Seems like a good idea to me.”

They are anti-missile systems. Anti-missiles can’t attack Russia, NATO troops/armor clearly could.

66 JWatts July 5, 2016 at 11:14 am

“You mean like placing anti missile missiles in Cuba within 90 miles of the United States?”

I can’t imagine caring much if Russia did this. Certainly the US would be marginally better off if Russia was spending more of their Ballistic Missile budget on anti-missiles.

67 Steve Sailer July 5, 2016 at 2:42 am

“Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated? Good night.”


68 Jaffe July 5, 2016 at 2:44 am

“With the resignations of Cameron, Boris Johnson, and now Farage, it seems few leading politicians are keen to “own” Brexit and its consequences.”

This is terrible analysis. Cameron was never going to have anything to do with it, as he campaigned against it. Johnson had no chance after Gove (who will gladly own Brexit) politically assassinated him. Farage was never going to be chosen to be a part of any negotiating team (he could have more influence outside UKIP if he backs Andrea Leadsom for Conservative leader).

69 dan1111 July 5, 2016 at 3:54 am

Boris seemed to give up awfully quickly. Did he really have no chance? Given that there are multiple rounds of voting with candidates eliminated one at a time, there would have been no real cost to him staying in the running. It does seem like perhaps he didn’t really want to be PM.

On the other two, I agree with you.

70 Richard Gadsden July 5, 2016 at 4:30 am

He knew he couldn’t win, but he wanted to make sure that Gove couldn’t win either.

71 koenfucius July 5, 2016 at 5:14 am

All this develops into a splendid case study for Game Theory courses, in particular for ultimatum games.

72 WillS July 5, 2016 at 8:54 am

Couldn’t agree more. A terrible analysis. Article 50 will be owned by the next Prime Minister when the leadership contest is finished in September (or possibly sooner). None of the candidates are walking away from invoking Article 50, the only disagreement is when and even there the variation is small with a strong expectation of it being invoked by very early next year.

The problem with so many of these post-referendum pieces is that many of the writers signed up so wholeheartedly to the chaos/crisis/end-of-civilisation meme that they now seem unable to see actual events through anything other than that distorted prism.

73 MyName July 6, 2016 at 1:33 am

And the problem with your criticism of these pieces is you act like there’s a way to tell what’s going to happen in a situation that’s pretty much the definition of “unprecedented”.
No one who can pass Article 50 seems to be in a hurry to do so. The referendum itself was non-binding so there’s no way to force it through parliament. The question is whether a majority of the people in the majority party want Brexit more than they want to continue running the government after the next election, as it’s looking like those are the two options. You also have to find someone who is willing to be PM long enough to “own” Brexit and then get kicked out a couple of months later. Boris seemed like the most likely candidate and he probably assumed he could hold onto the job, but he slunked out. I haven’t heard of anyone else who wants the job that badly and who can get enough votes from the rest of the party to ensure they can get it.

74 MichaelG July 5, 2016 at 2:48 am

Well, there’s this item saying that in a general election, Leave would do well:


Unless somehow the government stands up and says “OK, we’re staying in the EU and ignoring the vote”, I don’t see how the uncertainty disappears. Maybe not even then, since another vote might still produce a “Leave” answer. And at this point, would the EU really welcome a UK announcement that they are staying?

Actually leaving is the only thing that ends all doubt. And I can’t really see the business community watching uncertainty kill their prospects without putting some kind of pressure on the government.

75 prior_test July 5, 2016 at 2:49 am

‘Word on the street these days is that Article 50 won’t even be seriously considered before the French and German elections, which means Fall 2017 at the earliest.’

By the UK, one should fully note – the current French and German governments expect an article 50 notification from the new UK government by mid-Septermber. Though that is not word on the street, that is public policy expounded by those in a position to make policy in France and Germany.

‘If I were in Parliament, with a moderately pro-Leave constituency, I would be rooting for this scenario. ‘

That does not describe the current condition – a majority of MPs are pro-remain, and all indications at this point are that a general election before 2020 based on fall out from Brexit is unlikely at this point.

‘and see what happens to your political future’

In 2020, that is.

‘The 2017 PM and Cabinet take to the British people’ or ‘The trickling, tortuous uncertainty through Fall 2017’ or ‘almost everyone in the UK wants to leave by Fall 2017’

The 2017 UK PM and Cabinet are extremely likely to be pretty much the post-September 2016 UK PM and Cabinet. Why this fixation on 2017? Unless one feels that the UK is in the driver’s seat (right hand, that is – shame that the essentially all of the 8 out of 10 autos manufactured in the UK are made to be exported to makets where the driver seat is on the other side). Though to be fair, in the sense that no one can force an article 50 notification on the UK, any date one fixates on will have an equal likelihood of being accurate.

‘Putin does something really stupid’

Or the 2017 American president, of course.

‘the French and German elections require those governments to reassert at least partial control over their borders vis-a-vis immigration’

Leaving aside the question of Calais, neither government is likely to do anything which imperils the free movement of goods and EU residents. If one wants to be a bit more accurate, the EU as a whole needs to do something along those lines, though to what extent that bleeds into French and German elections is open to discussion.

‘This strikes me as one of the more plausible scenarios.’

Shame that it has little basis in fact. At this point, ‘immigration’ is simply not a particularly useful concept when describing the idea that EU citizens are entitled to live and work anywhere in the EU. And though I’m sure that one can find more than a few Front National voters that feel even one Bosch living in the ‘Elsass’ is too many, the reality remains that one of the goals of the EU is to create a political structure that has as many barriers to all EU citizens living anywhere in the EU as what currently exists in the U.S. Further, even the leave voters in the UK are seemingly 3/4 pro-EU ‘immigration’ – ‘New research from ICM for the independent thinktank British Future finds that 84% of the British public supports letting EU migrants stay – including 77% of leave voters. Among Conservatives, support for protecting the status of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in Europe is even higher, at 85%, with 78% of Ukip supporters in agreement.

Just 16% of the public think EU citizens should be required to leave the UK and that UK citizens in Europe should return home, with 23% of leave voters and 15% of Conservatives agreeing.’ http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jul/03/leave-remain-letter-tories-eu-citizens-uk

‘There is no clear deadline forcing their hand.’

Well, apart from the EU considering the UK an ex-member, and pulling its institutions and funding out of the UK. This will not be a hard sell to EU members – who wouldn’t want a few extra research or development euros flowing into their own coffers, and not the UK’s? The EU has already done that in terms of research money when it came to the Swiss deciding to forego free movement, by the way.

‘and it is another reason why the Leave vote was a huge mistake’

No, the leave vote should be taken seriously, the UK should hand over its article 50 notification by September, and two years after that, the UK (and the City) should have all the benefits and privileges accorded to non-members of the EU. Whether that happens is still open to question, of course – some people are starting to realize that the leave voters were not expected to win, along with the fact that the EU would like the UK to leave. There is very little recognizable ‘UK stay’ sentiment in the German media. Though the idea of granting UK citizens living in Germany dual citizenship is floating around – mainly because the German government has no desire to change the current expression of UK democratic will. This attitude seems really hard for people to understand – maybe it would help to realize that the UK was probably the least loved EU member over decades, in part because of its continual threats to leave if it didn’t get what it wanted?

76 Just curious July 5, 2016 at 3:04 am

Do you have, like….a job?


77 prior_test2 July 5, 2016 at 4:57 am

Jobs generally come with 6 weeks vacation in the socialist hellhole that is Germany.

Strangely, no one used to ask that question over the years when I posted pretty much the same times as the last 2 weeks while at work (like now, for example). I follow a pretty simple schedule – generally between 6am-8pm MET/MDT.

And Brexit has been fascinating for someone who fully supports the UK leaving the EU.

78 Brian Donohue July 5, 2016 at 12:25 pm

Germany’s got really low unemployment too, because lots of jobs skirt the labor laws that keep unemployment elsewhere in Europe so high:


Go low wage Germany!

79 Thor July 5, 2016 at 5:06 am

He does. But he’s got a lot of time on his hands as a mid level public sector functionary in Germany.

80 dan1111 July 5, 2016 at 3:20 am

“That does not describe the current condition – a majority of MPs are pro-remain”

You have outright misunderstood Tyler here. A “moderately pro-leave constituency” means the voters in an MP’s district are pro-leave (which obviously represents most of Britain).

“Shame that it has little basis in fact.”

Other than the rise of Euroskeptic parties across the continent, polls showing that leaving the EU has quite a lot of support in places like France, and the views of many expert observers on the knock-on effects of Brexit, there is no basis to suggest that the EU might roll back some of its integration.

81 prior_test2 July 5, 2016 at 5:04 am

‘A “moderately pro-leave constituency” means the voters in an MP’s district are pro-leave (which obviously represents most of Britain).’

Those MPs got elected in 2015, when the referendum had already been scheduled. Obviously things change, but most of those MPs are unlikely to be quivering in their shoes at the prospect of the current apparently large minority of voters still in favor of leave voting them out of office in what is likely to be 4 years time. Clearly, individual districts and individual MPs will face different challenges, but the British system relies on parties, not individual elected officials – as the Conservatives are about to demonstrate, where somewhere around a couple of hundred thousand Tories are going to determine the next PM.

‘there is no basis to suggest that the EU might roll back some of its integration’

I am going to assume you mean the opposite, as that would fit your point. However, we can look at how the Swiss/EU free movement issue is currently working out to see about that roll back, as that does not provide a basis to suggest that the EU might roll back some of its integration – ‘The Swiss-EU talks, under way for two years but now needing a solution possibly within weeks, throws up the exact same issues that will be raised in the UK’s exit talks – the degree to which the UK must accept free movement of the EU’s citizens as a price for access to the single market.

The Swiss are desperate to strike a deal in order to give its politicians time to pass the necessary laws to meet a February 2017 deadline imposed by a legally binding referendum in 2014.


The Swiss only narrowly voted to restrict immigration in the original 2014 referendum, with 50.3% in favour, and have been in unfruitful talks to implement the measure with the EU ever since. The Swiss are far more dependent on the EU for markets than the EU is on Switzerland, making the Swiss negotiating hand relatively weak. An impasse on the immigration issue threatens hundreds of other EU-Swiss bilateral agreements, as well as the imposition of tariffs.

Further talks were due a week ago, but were postponed by the commission claiming they were too distracted by Brexit.

The president of the European parliament, Martin Schulz, said the talks will not get easier, because “free movement of people now plays a bigger role, in light of the imminent Brexit negotiations”.

He added: “We have to find a solution with Switzerland because we need each other. I believe Switzerland [needs] the EU a bit more than the other way round.”

Switzerland exports 56% of its goods to the EU.’ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/03/eu-swiss-single-market-access-no-free-movement-citizens

82 dan1111 July 5, 2016 at 5:43 am

“I am going to assume you mean the opposite”

Yes, that’s what the “Other than…” part of the sentence did.

As for the Swiss, the EU is not worried about Switzerland, but they may be worried about the UK. Not necessarily because they are worried about relations with the UK itself–they are worried about who will hold the next independence referendum, so they may moderate in order to head that off.

83 Careless July 6, 2016 at 10:13 am

Although their first response seems to be to try to be dicks to scare anyone else from leaving. Wonderful group they are.

84 albatross July 5, 2016 at 5:08 pm

How does accepting the free movement of EU citizens interact with the migrant crisis?

85 Sub Specie Æternitatis July 6, 2016 at 9:36 am

“There is very little recognizable ‘UK stay’ sentiment in the German media.”

You mean apart from such fringe sentiments as the cover of a recent issue of the leading German newsweekly? http://magazin.spiegel.de/SP/2016/24/index.html

86 PAtrick Kirk July 5, 2016 at 2:54 am

There is an election in 2020. In the last 3 elections, the anti EU parties won in 2014 Euro elections, the parties that offered a referendum on the EU won a majority of votes in the 2015 general election and UKIP got 25% of the vote compared to the Labour’s 30% and in the referendum, the anti-EU vote was the majority. Politically, there is no way the Conservatives can enter the 2020 election without having triggered article 20.

The Conservative Party is devoted to conserving its own power. Of course things might change – there could be a nuclear war or something – but unless they want to hand over their voters to UKIP, the Conservatives will take the UK out of the EU before 2020. The smart money is on 2019.

87 Danny July 5, 2016 at 2:56 am

Good analysis, but I think it significantly underestimates the internal party pressure a Conservative PM would be under to invoke article 50. Already two of five candidates have pledged to invoke prior to the end of 2016. Come 2017 the press and 100 MPs will be demanding invocation or threatening another leadership election if it doesn’t happen.

88 I wrote this for you July 5, 2016 at 3:05 am

Danny danny bofanny, bananna wanna bo-hammy, mi my oh my lanny, DANNY!!!!

89 Art Deco July 5, 2016 at 3:03 am

Loved you or “lived” you

90 Art Deco July 5, 2016 at 6:50 am

Thanks for elaborating on something I barely cared about.

91 Thiago Ribeiro July 5, 2016 at 7:21 am

You’ re welcome. It’s a pleasure to be of service to you. I mean, I couldn’t miss the fact that one of you Decos, maybe you yourself, cared enough about typos to try to ascertain through the means at his/your disposal how much the bot’s girl really “lived” him before leaving him. I just tried to spare him/you the sting of prolonged doubt.

92 dan1111 July 5, 2016 at 7:24 am

I think the spambot is winning.

93 Thiago Ribeiro July 5, 2016 at 7:58 am

Well, he’s a worthy adversary, that’s for sure.

94 Art Deco July 5, 2016 at 10:39 am

Can we clear the sock-puppets out?

95 Ewan McTeagle July 5, 2016 at 8:38 am

This is just like the time I caught the ferry over to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe, so, I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on ’em. Give me five bees for a quarter, you’d say.

Now where were we? Oh yeah: the important thing was I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn’t have white onions because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones…

96 Thiago Ribeiro July 5, 2016 at 10:52 am

I think everyone has been there. Such a situation, I mean, not Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days.

97 Art Deco July 5, 2016 at 10:40 am

Can we clear the sock puppets out.

98 Thiago Ribeiro July 5, 2016 at 11:14 am

Just what is your issue lately?

99 anon July 5, 2016 at 11:32 am

To totally extrapolate, a certain sort of conservative has a 4th of July hangover. Not from yesterday’s party alone, but from the whole “burn it down” Trump cycle. The timing is merciless. Just as Brexit proves “burn it down” is not an easy path to “make it great again,” Donald goes down in a white-supremacist death spiral.

It all has to hurt, including the realization that the right backed Trump because they *didn’t* value their own conservative ideas. Burn it down indeed.

100 Art Deco July 5, 2016 at 1:02 pm

My issue is that some jackass has appropriated my handle. About half the comments in recent days made by ‘Art Deco’ were not by me. The moderator, in the interests of truth in advertising, should ban the perpetrator and delete the comments. Scott Sumner despises me and everything I say, but did grant me this courtesy.

I have no interest in petty harassment of other participants, though there are at least three other individuals using their own handles (as well as faking mine) who follow me around these threads offering inane insults.

101 Nigel July 5, 2016 at 3:05 am

“b. The status of the Queen will either go up a lot or down a lot. Many people still believe, if only in inchoate form, that she is there for moments of constitutional crisis…”

Even were that true, which is rather doubtful, her purpose in such moments is precisely to do nothing. Which will only maintain or increase her status, and disappoint only those who wish to abolish the monarchy anyway.

You really don’t get the constitutional monarchy thing.

102 dan1111 July 5, 2016 at 3:39 am

“constitutional”? What constitution? Britain ain’t got one. (Their claims to the contrary notwithstanding).

Also, the British monarch could decide to speak up any time they felt like it, and beyond that they still officially have quite a bit of power. At some point, a monarch is going to decide they care enough about some issue that they will attempt to use their influence, and/or even their official powers, to try to change the outcome of something. This will probably lead to no small governmental crisis. The view to the contrary places far too much faith in the power of mere convention. QEII may have shown incredible forbearance in staying out of politics, but sooner or later someone will not (do you really think Charles would shut up about politics if he became king?).

103 tjamesjones July 5, 2016 at 4:13 am

sure the UK has a constitution, it just isn’t written down as a constitution. Writing it all down is very Victorian and purposeful, but also means you are left with a document from several hundred years ago which isn’t necessarily the answer to every 21st century political scenario.

104 dan1111 July 5, 2016 at 4:23 am

“sure the UK has a constitution, it just isn’t written down as a constitution.”

I understand the argument, but I don’t think this is a constitution. If it is then it is meaningless to call some countries “constitutional”.

Every country has some set of laws, rules and conventions by which it is governed. Having the core of this written down as key principles which are published, agreed, and hard to change is what makes a country “constitutional”. This is the bedrock of rule of law.

Because the UK doesn’t have this, there are significant cases in which it isn’t clear who has the authority to do what. This is a threat to representative democracy.

105 derek July 5, 2016 at 5:43 am

Yet it remains probably the most stable form of government.

The instability stems from the fact that both of the major parties have found themselves at odds with their core constituency. What we are seeing is a reorganizing of both of them; Labour seems to be trying to muck out the non Guardian readers who dared vote against the socialist project. It will be interesting to see if they have any constituency left at all. The Conservative prime minister essentially lost a vote, and now the party has to reorganize itself. A new leader will be chosen then either will gain the confidence of the house or an election will be called. Neither party wants one because it is unpredictable; in fact no one wants one because it is easier now with the uncertainty of the results to negotiate for your position.

Rigid structures will not survive the low level storm that will last for decades, hopefully. 2008 magnitude failures have always meant a redrawing of the map, and so far no one has lobbed a nuke, so good news. Countries like Britain and the US with their rather vigorous political debate will fare the best.

106 Unanimous July 5, 2016 at 8:45 am

Even when there is a document called a constitution it still happens that there are times when people aren’t certain what people should do. This is an inevitable part of any reasonably complicated system, and has nothing to do with the constitution being gathered into one document, or spread over a number of acts, court rullings, and documented precedents. A full understanding of the US constitution requires reference to supreme court rulings, so even the US’s broader constitution is more than a single document.

Despite the lack of a written constitution in the UK, the role of the monarch in commonwealth countries is clear. The monarch can only act with any tiny bit of independance when the parliament is incapable of acting, and the only power of the monarch is to appoint a caretaker cabinet to provide a continuity in governance with minimal change until an election of a new parliament which must occur in the shortest practical time. This has occured a number of times in various provincial and national governments over the last hundred years, and the precedent is clear under both written and unwritten constitutions.

107 JWatts July 5, 2016 at 11:16 am

“sure the UK has a constitution, it just isn’t written down as a constitution.”

That’s not a Constitution. Not in any meaningful sense.

108 Bill Grindle July 5, 2016 at 3:05 am

People outside the UK seem to have misunderstood the resignations.
Farage was a despised figure even within his own party. However, he achieved his life goal and is quitting on a high.
Cameron had no option but to quit for one of the biggest political misjudgments in history.
Boris Johnson could not continue after being fatally stabbed in the back – well the front actually – by his “closest ally” Michael Gove
And Corbyn (Labour Party) is the one leader who hasn’t quit but who should for his incompetent, half-hearted campaign. He’ll be gone soon anyway
All the deadwood gets carved out and new leaders will emerge
Its called democracy

109 MyName July 6, 2016 at 1:38 am

Really, because I’ve read alot from people within the UK who aren’t sharing your opinion of the situation. Maybe there’s more than one opinion on this because it isn’t settled yet.

110 Agreer July 6, 2016 at 6:13 pm

I wholeheartedly agree with Bill’s assessment, and I am from the UK.

111 Manniac July 7, 2016 at 3:16 am

Farage’s goal was always to try to obtain a parliamentary majority of MPs in Westminster in order to achieve UKIP’s goals. He was a johnny come lately to the idea of a referendum. It was ex-UKIP MEP Nikki Sinclaire, who started the ball rolling.

112 LR July 5, 2016 at 3:24 am

No doubt this list of options has been prepared for a hedge fund.

113 prior_test2 July 5, 2016 at 4:45 am

Nah, I still think this is simply spitballing, to see if any of the ideas floating around stick at all.

Those remain proponents who care nothing for the popular will (the City certainly doesn’t) are trying desperately to at least suggest that the situation can be finessed, so that the UK will continue to have influence over EU affairs.

That train has left the station, with everybody from the EU finally waving goodbye. The odds of it backing up aren’t that high, though certainly more than zero. If only because The City has a lot of money available to give to the engineer and conductor, not to mention all the passengers in 1st class.

114 John McLennan July 5, 2016 at 3:38 am

When economists can give politicians professional advice on the following then the politicians may listen to the economists’ amateur advice on politics.
A How did the world economy get into its present mess?
B Are we even in a mess?
C What is the mess?
D How do we get out of it?
When economists can reach a well-founded professional consensus on economics then come back to us.

115 Michael July 5, 2016 at 3:41 am

Does anybody else feel we’re in some kind “House of Cards” scenario? (I mean the original UK version.) Everyone resigns left, right and center, with flimsy reasons if you look closely. Everyone asked Cameron to stay and not fall on his sword. Boris can beat Michael Gove with his left hand tied down. Farage seemed to enjoy himself immensely annoying MEPs (or everybody, really). Now, suddenly, they all commit political suicide. Maybe /ominous music/ someone somewhere has something on them (and only Corbyn was chaste and can not be blackmailed)?

116 Deek July 5, 2016 at 4:14 am

This is the third time Farage has quit as UKIP leader. It’s not the biggest of surprises.

117 prior_test2 July 5, 2016 at 4:39 am

Especially with the Leave.EU money man talking up creating a new, better, Farage-less organization – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arron_Banks

118 Ali Choudhury July 5, 2016 at 3:44 am

Not sure what all the hyper-ventilating is about, if Japan can do OK outside the EU we should be able to get too.

119 Kris July 5, 2016 at 4:16 am

If Japan had ever joined the EU, and recently passed Jexit, it would be in a big puddle of p*** too.

120 M July 5, 2016 at 2:35 pm

Economically, assuming similar conditions, it would be the same.

The hysteria and press coverage would differ quite widely though.

It’s not as symbolically important to anyone that Japan be an anti-nationalist country.

Britain is seen by many, internationally, as an entrepot between EU and US, and between Commonwealth and EU, and Commonwealth and US; a society in which all internationalists can participate. Although it’s London, really that’s seen as the entrepot, and the rest of the country is just… attached.

People like Tyler who value the country in that capacity are going to feel hurt at any moves in another direction. (You can have some sympathy with all this, whether you ultimately see it as OK or not). A somehow Japan in an EU, in what world, could never be that, and a disengaging Japan could never hurt anyone’s feelings in the same way.

121 MyName July 6, 2016 at 1:41 am

If you’ve followed the news for the last 15 years, Japan really *hasn’t* been doing that well. Not to say England wouldn’t be doing just fine and the rest of the UK can just join the EU on its own (like Scotland) or as part of a unified Ireland. Somehow, I don’t think it will reflect well on how history views the political leaders who got them to this situation, however.

122 Nigel Lawson July 5, 2016 at 4:28 am

Half the political commentators seem to think it’s impossible to trigger Article 50, half of them that it’s impossible not to. Be interesting to see who’s right

One thing that has to be read is this analysis of how the Leave/Remain vote breaks down in Parliamentary constituencies. Because the Remain vote is concentrated in a few areas, across the country Leave would win 421, Remain only 229. So unless there’s a big swing in opinion, it’s hard for a Parliamentary party to go against the Leavers without getting hammered in all the marginal (“swing”) seats.


I don’t really see how the Parliamentary government has a power vacuum though. The executive offices (the Prime Minister, the Cabinet) stay in place until Parliament can work out a replacement, with all their executive powers. The Civil Service stay in place whatever happens: ministers don’t get to choose them or hire replacements. The cabinet can still be gridlocked against the legislature, and hampered by being “lame ducks”, but those are the same problems that Presidential systems face on a regular basis anyway.

123 Thiago Ribeiro July 5, 2016 at 8:21 am

“Half the political commentators seem to think it’s impossible to trigger Article 50, half of them that it’s impossible not to. Be interesting to see who’s right”
Neither is impossible, each brings its own challenges. I think “Leave” will prevail, but the end is not in sight.

124 jb July 5, 2016 at 5:47 pm

The question is, “Which politician will bet their career on Brexit not being a disaster and be the one to put their name to the Article 50 filing?”

Pro-Remain commenters say that question is rhetorical, therefore no one will do it and the UK will remain. Pro-Leave commenters say the opposite. Considering that the leaders of the Leave campaign have disqualified themselves, that question comes closer to being rhetorical. However, realistically what will happen is this:

1) Theresa May, or whoever wins the Conservative Party election, will call a general election for the fall of 2016.
2) The major electoral issue will be “Do we actually Brexit?”
3) If the majority of seats are won by pro-Brexit candidates, the PM will have ample political cover to exit. If the majority is won by pro-Remainers, then chaos will continue to reign.
4) As Nigel Lawson commented, pro-Brexit is very likely to win that election, and Britain will leave.

125 MyName July 6, 2016 at 1:44 am

This seems more sensible than 90% of the opinions I’ve seen on this. May not actually happen this way, but they are more likely to call an election if they are sure they can win, so if they do call the election, leave is more likely than not to follow.

126 Seamus McCauley July 5, 2016 at 4:31 am

Your “word on the street” link (third para) goes to a very interesting analysis of the Brexit situation which does not, alas, touch on the subject of the French and German elections – perhaps a different link was intended?

127 RM July 5, 2016 at 5:00 am

8. Trump wins the election, which will give impetus to the leave movement.

9. Followed by Trump does something stupid like give tacit approval of Putin’s own stupid move to invade Poland. Remain gets a huge boost from that, but WWIII may have already started by then.

128 dsgntd_plyr July 5, 2016 at 7:46 am

if russia and the usa are on the same side how would ww3 even start? the europeans couldn’t keep out unarmed “””””syrians””””” so how would they keep out europe’s 2 strongest armies? exactly, so the eu would cave.

129 Bob from Ohio July 5, 2016 at 11:04 am

Since Putin has all of Clinton’s deleted e-mails, is not she more likely to give tacit approval to avoid exposure?

130 Thor July 5, 2016 at 5:12 am

I found this alarming, if it is meant seriously:

“In the 1960s and 70s, America and the UK had riots all the time. I’m not saying this is good! (Though it did lead to an excellent Clash song.) But once underway, in fact it is politically acceptable in many situations, or sometimes even politically desirable.”

As a cynical (classical cynical, not flippant cynical) Hobbesian, I fear that rioting — should it become mainstream and acceptable as Tyler may be saying — might be a genie that’s hard to put back in the bottle. As with all political violence.

131 derek July 5, 2016 at 6:01 am

The challenge is to figure out where the center is. The anti war riots were the extreme edge of a populace who didn’t want to see their sons killed in a jungle somewhere.

More recent riots seem more akin to the anarchist movement of the last century. Malcontents from elsewhere killing people with no discernable pattern or goal except to break things.

It is remarkable how many times in recent memories that riots have become an expression of the powerful. The media fomented race riots of last summer for example. They pretty well were a manifestation of government policy. Same with the riots in San Diego a month ago.

The media reaction has been almost universally positive when they happen.

There will be a counter reaction to this, and it will be ugly. It won’t go the way these ridiculous backtothesixties idiots yearn for, but will probably look far more like the shooting of the Labour politician.

132 passingby July 5, 2016 at 5:18 am

I think this gets it wrong:

First, on timing: it makes sense to wait until the French elections are completed, certainly – but the German elections are less likely to present an issue, and so Spring 2017 seems most likely. I also think that if it goes beyond Spring, UK politics will become increasingly fractious over the “why not A50 yet?” issue. Remember that 2 years from Spring 2017 is when the A50 process would conclude, and only a year before the next scheduled general election. I think Wolfgang Munchau has it right when he says Brexit is likely to occur in Q2 or Q3 2019 for this reason.

Second, implicit in (1) and (2) is the assumption that Parliament necessarily has a vote — yet the government clearly views the triggering of A50 as within its prerogative. (There is a legal grey area here, to be sure, related to the EU’s strange role as both a treaty and a contribution to domestic legislation.)

Third, as others have referred to, your “EU reduces free movement” scenario seems highly unlikely. Germany’s poor demographic prospects make it highly pro-immigration, and Romanians are probably less controversial than Merkel’s million “refugees”. The central and eastern European countries all favour free movement because it allows their people to earn much more across the EU, and they gain through remittances. The Mediterranean countries (especially Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal) have found free movement essential to alleviating their own unemployment problems. So where’s the coalition to break through a deep European ideological commitment to free movement of people?

Fourth, you’re crediting economic analysis with too much insight and public opinion with too much nuance. Assuming there is recession and stagnation as a result of uncertainty, unless it’s wholly confined to the UK it’ll be difficult to pin it on A50-related uncertainty. Remember the Austerity Wars: there never was a consensus on what the problem was when it was going on; macro is always a noisy battlefield. And even if the consensus *is* that it’s all about A50-related uncertainty, the referendum campaign showed that public opinion can be resistant to expert consensus when it perceives a clash of interests.

Fifth, you’re not thinking through the domestic political consequences. Here are the components of the political crisis that would follow too much foot-dragging: (1) half of the Tory parliamentary party were for Leave, and the Tories have a tiny majority in the Commons; (2) UKIP, the populist-nationalist party is not demobilising and holds around a sixth of the vote, being second place in many constituencies in the last election; (3) Boris Johnson, a politician with Bill Clinton-like charisma (if questionable governing skills), was a figurehead of Leave but was knifed in the Tory leadership contest and withdrew – don’t think he lacks for ambition. Too much foot-dragging and one can imagine Boris leading a quarter or more of Tory MPs to declare no confidence, possibly even aligning in some way (probably not joining, but allying) with UKIP. The government has no majority, and the Labour Party can’t form a government either (if it still exists by then). Either parliament dissolves (if no one can command a majority) and there’s a general election – with a high chance of a Tory-UKIP coalition emerging; or the government limps on in unholy alliance with centrist Labour MPs and public resentments build. No need for riots – electoral politics can do the work.

Sixth, all of the Tory leadership candidates are being pushed hard, and responding – “Brexit means Brexit”, Remain-supporting Theresa May says, and she includes freedom of movement in the definition. Assuming the contest goes to the membership run-off, the need to make firm commitments, especially by Mrs May, becomes unavoidable. Then, consider the Tory party’s own incentives to follow through: achieving referendum-backed Brexit and immigration reduction would mean a decisive shift in the centre ground, and one to which Labour cannot adapt without compromising either part of its coalition of metropolitan professionals and post-industrial working classes.

133 passingby July 5, 2016 at 5:41 am

Also, seventh: the incentives for the British state to go back to the EU table are small as it will have literally no bargaining power in future — Britain will have threatened to leave; had public backing for leaving; but will have demonstrated it does not have the resolve to see it through. The previously tense UK-EU relationship then becomes downright dysfunctional, and most of the 52 per cent who voted ‘Leave’ in 2016 become a formidable voting bloc as every bad twist and wrong turn proves that they were right…

134 passingby July 5, 2016 at 5:49 am

And eighth: you misunderstand the domestic political dynamics when you say Johnson and Farage are “running away from” the Leave vote. Johnson didn’t run away — once Gove had dealt him the killer blow, he recognised he couldn’t win the leadership contest, and thought (probably wisely) it better to protect a good electoral record by not standing. There is always the question of the extent to which he’s an opportunist, but he knows now he has the Leave tribe with him and he will continue to use that as a platform. Farage also didn’t run away — he has ill health and knows UKIP probably needs a new leader to take it to the next step, and he now has enough fame he doesn’t really need the party to argue his position any more. Remember UKIP have one MP (not Farage) and so his role in proceedings, even as UKIP’s leader, would be very limited.

135 Tatil July 5, 2016 at 7:55 pm

Third: Nobody is arguing for all countries to limit EU immigration. The argument is for countries to have the “option” of limiting. If Germany wants or needs immigration from eastern Europe, it will not have to put any limits. It is not unprecedented either, some of the new entrants didn’t gain full free movement during the first few years and it was up to each country to implement the restrictions. I believe UK didn’t at the time. I guess the electorate wasn’t happy with that decision.

136 passingby July 6, 2016 at 5:30 am

I see your point, but I think the dynamics don’t work that way. Free movement is the status quo and therefore — especially given the difficulty of reversing EU law — represents a natural focal point for those countries interested in maintaining emigration. Germany will be motivated to support those countries, because (1) it favours high immigration for itself, (2) it will be keen to maintain support among the accession countries, and (3) it has the strongest ideological support for the European project within its domestic politics (see the SPD responding to Brexit by promoting greater integration).

As for those restrictions — yes, these were transitional arrangements applied for up to seven years. The UK didn’t apply them for the A8 countries, but learned not to repeat that mistake (as you say, the electorate was unhappy – the government predicted 13,000 Poles and got 700,000) and did apply them for Bulgaria and Romania (they expired in 2014). But the point to note in this case is that they were always seen as a concession — I believe that only a handful of member states still have transitional arrangements on Croatia, well before the end of the seven year period, and that demonstrates the majority view on free movement.

137 Bill July 5, 2016 at 5:21 am

Leave, Stay, Leave, Stay,

She loves me, She Loves Me Not

She loves me,

My prediction:

Stays. Which makes it more difficult in the future to threaten to leave, making Germany and France more powerful.

138 Bill July 5, 2016 at 6:02 am

Right now, there is intention but not choice. A good strategy would be to defer Article 50 notice and begin negotiating terms of withdrawal so the public can see the choice and consequence and then vote.

139 dan1111 July 5, 2016 at 6:08 am

This sentiment is increasingly popular, but it amounts to the Remain side asking for a do-over.

The public voted on a clear question with a yes or no answer. It was well known that leaving the EU would trigger complex negotiations with an uncertain outcome, and Leave won despite that. Basically it was an unconditional vote to leave.

And it could not be otherwise, since there could be no negotiation with the EU over a new deal until the decision to leave was made. The implication of some that a vote without a clear alternative deal is somehow unfair doesn’t make a lot of sense.

140 Art Deco July 5, 2016 at 10:49 am

The negotiations are ‘complex’ only because there’s a hydra head on the other side and a great deal of special-interest lobbying. The US, Canada, and Russia export to the EU without being members. There’s a ready template right there. As for British citizens living on the continent, 2/3 are in France and Spain. Most of them can be taken care of with bilateral negotiations. Spanish law as it stands allows anyone with 5 years residency to remain.

141 jb July 5, 2016 at 5:49 pm

The EU has said that there will be no negotiations before the Article 50 notice. They have no incentive to back down, at least not publicly.

142 derek July 5, 2016 at 6:04 am

And the world will once again be forced to remember why a powerful Germany is a bad idea.

143 FE July 5, 2016 at 6:04 am

“7. In the meantime, the French and German elections require those governments to reassert at least partial control over their borders vis-a-vis immigration.” But in your model, French German politicians are free to defy the election results and recommit to the status quo. It’s not a bad model for European politics! But it doesn’t deliver change to Britain.

144 rayward July 5, 2016 at 7:08 am

Of course, this is all Tony Blair’s fault. He chose to Leave the Church of England, for Christ’s sake! And to join the Roman Catholics! He established the precedent to Leave and the nation followed. These are interesting times in Britain, and interesting times in America. America’s choice for the next president is either a patriarchal misogynist or a long-suffering wife. David Brooks observes: “Without much enthusiasm, many voters seem to be flocking to tough, no-nonsense women who at least seem sensible: Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton and, now, the Conservative Party front-runner, Theresa May.” What if Ms. Clinton were to Leave Big Bill after his flub at the airport? Would that be no-nonsense and sensible or, according to Mr. Brooks in his assessment of the leading male politicians in Britain, clueless?

145 Matthew Moore July 5, 2016 at 7:17 am

Key fact:

Although Leave and Remain were only separated by a million votes, Remain votes were typically highly concentrated. That is, they won big in a few areas. Remain won only half as many counting areas.

In a General Election, under first past the post, Leave commands a massive commons majority.

146 dan1111 July 5, 2016 at 7:37 am

This is important, but in an election, people have to vote for a party (and the person who leads it), not just vote on an issue.

37% of labour voted leave. Are they all going to vote for a party headed by Michael Gove or even Theresa May? Not likely. Nor are all of the 42% of conservatives who voted Remain likely to suddenly bolt for another party. There will probably be some realignment, but it’s not clear how this will shape up.

I think it is very much an open question what a general election will look like.

147 jb July 5, 2016 at 5:51 pm

The question is, will pro-Remain politicians run in pro-Leave areas? And what if your district has a high number of pro-Leave Labor voters but you’re a Labor candidate running against a pro-Leave Conservative? Won’t you feel pressure to come out as pro-Leave lest you lose your base?

148 passingby July 6, 2016 at 5:39 am

More important would be UKIP. Labour haemorrhaged its heartland vote to UKIP in 2016, resulting in UKIP getting a very large number of second places in constituencies across the North and Midlands. UKIP is more avowedly anti-EU and anti-immigration and doesn’t have the blue-blood baggage of the Conservatives. If Labour were the Remain party, they’d do well in London and a few other cities, but be pulverised by UKIP across the board. This could help the Conservatives anyway — where they are second-place, a large swing to UKIP might allow the Conservatives to pick up constituencies without adding many more votes.

The other thing to say is that the 52 per cent Leave vote are probably much more united on an agenda (leave the EU, control immigration) than the 48 per cent Remain vote would be on the opposite agenda. Because the Remain vote worked heavily on scaring voters, it is a mistake to think that more than a small minority of Remain voters are passionately in favour of the EU and free movement. A significant component was a ‘safety first’ vote, which would swing to the Conservatives if Labour looked like melting down under the pressure of UKIP (bearing in mind, Labour are a long way from power having lost all but one of their Scottish seats in 2015).

149 bjk July 5, 2016 at 7:22 am

Isn’t the failure of a clean exit mechanism actually a huge embarrassment for the Remain side? That seems more like a failure of the EU. Here is what a wise man once said about experiments in politics:

“[The EU] really is just a theory. Advocates of [the EU] make it sound as simple as solving an undergraduate homework problem and I think they sometimes genuinely do not realize how much the rest of the world views them as simply being very convinced by their own theory. There are plenty of historical examples with confounding factors and I’ve linked to some of them lately. One default hypothesis is that the ranges of [EU integration] being discussed, whether looser or tighter, aren’t going to matter much one way or the other.

The next time you read a blog post or column on [the EU], and it isn’t addressing those issues, the correct response is to think that a deeper analysis is needed. Don’t be swayed by the mere repetition of the usual arguments.”

That was TC on fiscal stimulus, I just replaced “fiscal stimulus” with “the EU”.

150 dan1111 July 5, 2016 at 7:28 am

The EU does have an exit mechanism: a country can invoke article 50 and then they will leave in two years, giving them time to negotiate a new relationship with the bloc.

I’m not at all a defender of the EU, but I’m not sure what a better exit mechanism would look like?

151 bjk July 5, 2016 at 7:35 am

Which is a good argument against ever getting in the EU in the first place, although that may be moot at this point, I realize. “We can’t ever leave” doesn’t seem like a great argument for the EU, though.

152 dan1111 July 5, 2016 at 7:38 am

They can leave, though. And they have a period of negotiation so that they can agree a reasonable alternative deal and not start from zero.

153 bjk July 5, 2016 at 7:45 am

You’re being a little too literal minded, Dan. Legally possible, but get in a time machine and go back to the 70s, does the EU as a roach motel make a great talking point? “And the EU will be so tightly integrated that effectively the EU will be impossible to leave, though technically there is Article 50, which will be too dangerous to ever invoke.”

154 dan1111 July 5, 2016 at 7:54 am

@bjk, that is predicated on accepting the Remain talking point that leaving the EU is dangerous, with catastrophic consequences. I don’t believe that.

155 Agreer July 6, 2016 at 6:30 pm

“leave in two years, giving them time to negotiate a new relationship with the bloc”

However common this opinion may be, it is not, in fact, true.

The two year period is for negotiating terms and conditions of exit. Specifically, what happens to EU citizens in the leaving country, what happens to their citizens in EU residency. There are are an arm’s length worth of other things to consider (perhaps simpler for the Non-Schengen, non Euro UK) such as how to reintroduce border controls, how to deal with foreign business dependencies, what to do about the lack of bilateral agreements, how to ensure that tax remittances are addressed to the correct country, when will military bases on EU soil be closed, how to disentangle students and pensioners alike, even how the airspace should be controlled.

Negotiating terms and conditions of future trade/cooperation do not necessarily need to be concluded within the two year exit negotiation period. If they are not concluded, as is likely, the UK simply ceases to be a part of the EU, the EFTA, and reverts to doing bilateral business with the EU as any other banana republic would.

156 Art Deco July 5, 2016 at 10:45 am

The Czech lands and Slovakia implemented a juridical divorce in just four months. One veteran of the task said instituting a new currency meant a week-end of work in the central bank with rubber stamps. The point of saying this is all horridly difficult is to persuade yourself it will not happen or persuade yourself that you were right all along. It has nothing to do with contemplating the actual tasks involved.

157 prior_test2 July 5, 2016 at 12:00 pm

On the other hand, merging East and West Germany most certainly did not take place in 4 months. Don’t forget, the UK first leaves the EU before coming back as a non-member, with all of the attendant benefits and privileges of non-membership, attempting to define its new relationship to the EU.

Now, if the British just want to sign up for the exact same conditions they had as members, minus any voice in determining EU policy or the size of the UK’s EU budget contribution, then who knows? Four months would still be unrealistic, but signing such agreements would likely go fairly quickly and smoothly – after all, from a UK perspective, it would be just like staying the EU, while being able to proudly proclaim they are not being ruled by Brussels.

Think the leave voters will not stand in the way of such a speedy resolution?

158 Art Deco July 5, 2016 at 1:08 pm

Ha ha ha. Britain is not assuming the responsibility for anyone’s value-subtracting industrial sector. Nor does Britain need any membership privileges, any more than does the United States in exporting to the EU.

159 prior_test2 July 5, 2016 at 1:39 pm

The U.S. does not have direct access to the EU common market, and many American products are explicitly forbidden from being imported into the EU (think virtually all American meat, for one example). This does not apply to UK (or Swiss, for that matter) products.

But if one wants access to that EU common market, at least along the lines that the Norwegians or Swiss have, one also pays into the EU coffers, just like the Swiss and Norwegians do.

Just ask the Mercatus crew about how protectionist the EU is to non-members, along with the fact that CETA was necessary to allow Canada something approaching the sort of EU market access that the UK or Switzerland take for granted. And that CETA is unlikely to be passed at this point – Canada will continue to trade with the EU, obviously, but it will not have the advantages that Norway does in accessing the entire common market.

160 Art Deco July 5, 2016 at 5:10 pm

The U.S. does not have direct access to the EU common market,

What, you fancy we have to export to them through some neutral platform?

This is getting tiresome.

161 Alistair July 5, 2016 at 10:18 pm

Agreed. History is replete with examples of far more wrenching change in 2 years, successfully enacted. You can’t tell me its worse than planning D-Day or dissolving the USSR.

162 dsgntd_plyr July 5, 2016 at 7:32 am

tyler is clueless. nigel farage is NOT a member of Parliament. therefore, he had no power to enact article 50.

163 Art Deco July 5, 2016 at 10:42 am

Only the PM can invoke Article 50 and Cameron refuses. So, the matter will be left to Cameron’s successor.

164 bjk July 5, 2016 at 7:53 am

TC’s support for the EU is a good window into what really motivates libertarians. The EU is ostensibly what every good Hayekian is against – distant, unaccountable, arbitrary authority with no local knowledge. But TC is mostly just against the granfalloon called the nation state, and to the extent that the EU is also the enemy of his enemy, he will support it.

165 Barkley Rosser July 5, 2016 at 9:59 am


Hayek might well dislike the current EU, but he wrote eloquently in favor of European unification. Or did you not know that?

166 bjk July 5, 2016 at 10:32 am

No I didn’t know that, but it’s not really surprising. The libertarians are ultimately as much one-worlders as any communist, so it’s not surprising that Hayek would be pro-unification. That’s what makes libertarianism such good blog fodder, the endless contradictions and hypocrisies.

167 Alistair July 5, 2016 at 10:12 pm

I’m quite shocked and upset in recent years at how many so-called libertarians have got themselves on the wrong side of the their own ethics with a poorly thought-out defence of immigration and globalisation.

There’s absolutely nothing inherent in libertarianism that requires large states, immigration, and unification; just the opposite in fact. A libertarian should call for many self-selecting “experiments in Democracy”, Nozick etc, to maximise minority freedoms from majorities.

168 Careless July 6, 2016 at 12:58 pm

Except Tyler’s position seems to be a minority position on the libertarian side.

169 zbicyclist July 5, 2016 at 9:43 am

#7 seems likely (extending to elections in general, not just France and Germany). The English outside their capital aren’t the only ones who are nostalgia for an earlier, more ethnically and linguistically pure era.

170 spandrell July 5, 2016 at 10:02 am

What does Putin have to do with anything? Why does Russian foreign policy have the effect of making the British people want to be under the authority of the EU? To what purpose? Britain has nuclear weapons, absolutely nothing to fear with Russia, and in the even that Britain would like to, say, aid Poland against Putin, it can do so through NATO channels with absolutely no need for the help of a single EU bureaucrat.

171 Bob from Ohio July 5, 2016 at 10:55 am

I seem to recall the UK has a “special relationship” with some powerful country too.

172 yenwoda July 5, 2016 at 10:19 am

“OK, so let’s say it is October 2017”

That’s a lot of analysis to hang on a thinly argued premise, IMO. I think Article 50 gets invoked by year’s end by the new PM. Regret over the referendum result is building but I think that the political establishment is going to be extremely reluctant to ignore or even slow walk the implementation of such a major act of direct democracy.

173 Bob from Ohio July 5, 2016 at 10:53 am

“Regret over the referendum result is building”

Is it really? The Remain people asset it [loudly and often] but is there any evidence other than manipulated internet petitions?

174 MyName July 6, 2016 at 1:55 am

Really? The pound is at it’s lowest in 30 years, but there’s no one who conceiveable might be regretting the results of the referendum? How many Leavers campaigned on the value of the stock market dropping precipitously? Not saying there are enough to necessarily flip the vote if it were held today, but there isn’t a growing chorus of support for Brexit right now either.

175 Michael July 6, 2016 at 4:05 am

is that all you’ve got? The pound fell 25% (from 2 $/£ to 1.50) in 2008/9. It only fell about 10% now. Longer-term, currencies’ *nominal* value is driven by monetary policy; what the nominal rate was 30 years ago has very little bearing on anything (but journalists like to play numerical games). You can have a great economy, but choose a higher rate of inflation than someone else, so nominally, your currency may well decline. Well, don’t sit on cash and you’ll be fine

The FED has been quite tight, and the dollar quite strong recently. The pound lost about as much against it as now in late 2014/early 2015, because BoE is more stimulative. Now Mervyn King has come out to promise more of that

Of course, Brexit will have a cost. BoE does the right thing to minimise damage. And this is supposed to prove building resentment?

176 Anonymous July 5, 2016 at 10:39 am

I’m not advocating violence here, but I think that, if the elites decide that votes don’t matter, it is inevitable. Not mere riots, but bombings and targeted assassinations. Be careful what you wish for, antiracists. You might get it:


177 anon July 5, 2016 at 11:38 am

Speaking of “when I was a kid.”

When I was a kid “antiracist” was not a word, let alone an accusation.

(OMG, just realized there is another race in the house!)

178 JWatts July 5, 2016 at 2:39 pm

“When I was a kid “antiracist” was not a word, let alone an accusation.”

Yes, that’s a silly word. The authors weren’t “antiracist”, they were clearly racist.

179 anon July 5, 2016 at 6:39 pm

That article is definitely messed up. Probably not racist or “antiracist,” just someone so caught up in their own narrative that they forget common sense, and decency.

180 JWatts July 5, 2016 at 6:48 pm

“Probably not racist or “antiracist,” just someone so caught up in their own narrative that they forget common sense, and decency.”

Ok, which of these headlines would be considered racist?

a) “Let’s hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a black American”

b) “Let’s hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a hispanic American”

c) “Let’s hope the Boston Marathon bomber is an Asian American”

d) “Let’s hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American”

181 anon July 5, 2016 at 6:58 pm

Now you might be caught up. If you think X, Y, and Z are all problems, and you get too caught up in your own narrative, you might hope for X, Y, or Z to happen, so that it will get attention.

It would be like saying “I hope the next disaster is an earthquake, because I don’t think people take them seriously enough.”

Get it?

182 JWatts July 6, 2016 at 12:43 am

I get that it’s a racist headline. I also get that many on the Left think that it would be implicitly taboo to use the phrase in any context other than for ‘white Americans’. Hoping it was a white American just so you can score political points instead of the other side is racist. It’s merely sophistry to pretend otherwise.

183 Urso July 5, 2016 at 11:42 am

I can’t believe that is a working link.

184 JWatts July 5, 2016 at 2:37 pm

“I can’t believe that is a working link.”

Agreed, I’m surprised that Salon hasn’t buried that obviously racist and historically wrong article.

185 MyName July 6, 2016 at 1:57 am

Well is that behavior likely to increase the support from the majority of non-violent pro-leavers who were maybe waffling on the issue? Lashing out like that is even worse than the economy tanking as far as making Brexit seem like a bad idea.

186 Art Deco July 5, 2016 at 10:41 am

The Mercatus crew are working hard at whistling past the graveyard.

187 Kevin July 5, 2016 at 10:59 am

A necessary prerequisite for dawdling, clearly, is the failure of someone who believes in Brexit to become PM (so if Michael Gove or someone like him rises to the top it’s probably game over). Even if the top job goes to someone who opposes Brexit, however, not invoking Article 50 would leave him or her open to an obvious leadership challenge down the line. For the Tories to stop Brexit in its tracks you would need a sizable contingent of MPs (and leaders) who were willing, essentially, to stab their leaders in the back over this issue, and even with the drama of recent weeks I don’t see that happening. Such an undertaking would be similar to the likelihood of the GOP unhorsing Trump at the convention in two weeks — while very strong arguments exist in principle for doing this, once one gets into the nitty gritty the barriers and costs which prevent individuals from taking action become apparent.

188 jon livesey July 5, 2016 at 12:01 pm

Trying way too hard. Here is another way to look at the whole thing. If membership of the EU is a good thing, how did we ever get to 50/50 in the first place? And how did we keep on getting back to 50/50 over and over, every time Project Fear shifted the needle a tiny bit?

After half a century of membership, I could see 60/40 for Remain, just because some people are contrary. But 50/50? You can’t really explain that away.

189 jon livesey July 5, 2016 at 12:37 pm

“With the resignations of Cameron, Boris Johnson, and now Farage, it seems few leading politicians are keen to “own” Brexit and its consequences”

I have seen this, or variations on it, posted all over the web, and it is total nonsense. Cameron has resigned because he staked his career on the referendum and lost. This is something Americans still don’t get about the UK, even after all these years. In the US politicians cling on beyond all reasonable hope, but in the UK they resign.

Johnson has *not* resigned. He is still an MP. He wanted to be PM and to “own” Brexit, probably pretty badly, but the arithmetic in the Tory leadership contest just doesn’t add up for him. For him to drop out of the Tory leadership race is no more unusual than for everyone but Trump to drop out of the Republican primary. When you can no longer hope to win, you drop out. That’s all.

Farage did not resign because he doesn’t want to “own” Brexit. He *can’t* own Brexit. He isn’t even an MP. That’s the big difference between Parliament and a referendum. In a referendum, anyone can lead. In Parliament you have to be an MP.

Honestly, when Tyler gets basic stuff like this so completely wrong, you have to wonder about the rest of what he writes.

190 Art Deco July 5, 2016 at 1:10 pm

He’s not as emotionally invested in the rest of what he writes.

191 Alistair July 5, 2016 at 10:05 pm

Exactly. And with the same breath he wonders, mystified, why people don’t trust “Experts”.

The experts have shown themselves both partisan and incompetent too many times.

192 prior_test2 July 5, 2016 at 1:31 pm

‘When you can no longer hope to win, you drop out.’

Except that Johnson seemed to have pinned his chances on becoming PM through becoming a leading leave figure.

He did not resign, but he did lose that gamble – the distinction is not all that relevant when talking about Johnson no longer being a leading Tory figure in the next few months, at least in terms of winning the leadership contest.

No defense of Prof. Cowen here, and I remain fully in favor the UK leaving the EU. Technically, Johnson did not resign, that is true. But he did lose, big – and on roughly the same scale as Cameron who did resign, though the technical distinction is real.

193 JonFraz July 5, 2016 at 1:32 pm

The Queen will not do anything publicly. That’s not how the system works. She may (probably will) express her advice and warnings privately as she is said to have done with Margaret Thatcher back in the 80s when the nation seemed to be spiraling out of control.

194 Careless July 6, 2016 at 1:03 pm

Umm… and what is that supposed to do? She has no power without the willingness to act publicly.

195 Agreer July 6, 2016 at 6:40 pm

It is supposed to protect the monarchy.

196 Troll me July 5, 2016 at 3:10 pm

I don’t see why Cameron has to resign. He got 48% or so, right? Isn’t that lots more than any party has gottenfor anything for a really long time?

197 Art Deco July 5, 2016 at 5:08 pm

Why not write and ask him?

While we’re at it, the ‘Remainders’ included all but 10 Labour MPs, the Irish and Scottish nationalists, and about 55% of Conservative MPs, so you wouldn’t attribute the whole ‘remain’ vote to the Cameron conservaitves.

198 M July 6, 2016 at 2:21 am

He didn’t have to resign. He chose to go now rather than later to precipitate this political “chaos” and thereby raise opportunities to invalidate the result.

199 Frein July 5, 2016 at 3:32 pm

There’s something wrong here : there is *nothing* to negociate with the UK, because the EU doesn’t have any mandate for that. Whether they call Art.50 or not is their own business, and there will be no negociations, given that everybody in the EU will find a reason to oppose to whatever the UK might want.

So, it could be far quicker than you might imagine. In fact, I suppose that the majority having voted it don’t expect less.

And if UK doesn’t leave EU by itself, the majority will just kick out anything EU staying in UK by force, whoever, whatever it is, just as it already began.

Politicians have no power here.

200 John Van Sant July 5, 2016 at 6:02 pm

No,no and more no. The majority is the remain side. That is the paradox you don’t get.

The reffie was a non-binding blunder. Even Cameron admits he should have put a “85%” turnout rule involved. Farage has said similar things.

A associate of Tony Blair told me back in 2006, he saw the political EU and UK becoming less involved in future years. This is nothing new. People are that bored.

201 Art Deco July 6, 2016 at 12:40 pm

Math is hard, Barbie.

202 Art Deco July 5, 2016 at 5:05 pm

The status of the Queen will either go up a lot or down a lot.

The status of the Queen will be completely unaffected. There is no constitutional crisis either. It’s just a policy decision you don’t care for.

203 John Van Sant July 5, 2016 at 6:04 pm

Well, it is a policy decision that could destroy the UK. Brexit? How about UKxit. You just won’t have Scotland and NI leaving, but potential insurrection down south as “new countries” form and pop out of no where.

That is what happens when you take your orders from Permindex/Rothschilds/Murdoch. They believe the EU is more “pure”. This is what UK “nationalists” don’t get. They are the true globalists. Aka, so is Donald Trump.

204 JWatts July 5, 2016 at 6:57 pm

None of that really logically follows.

“Well, it is a policy decision that could destroy the UK. ” Logically Brexit could result in Scotland leaving the UK, but the Scots seem to have been heading in that direction for years. So, it doesn’t look like Brexit really makes a substantial change to the existence of the UK anymore than the UK joining the EU did. It’s a factor, but clearly not the only factor.

“You just won’t have Scotland and NI leaving, but potential insurrection down south as “new countries” form and pop out of no where.”

I don’t understand this very well. Are you saying parts of England will just start declaring independence because of Brexit? That seems pretty unlikely.

“That is what happens when you take your orders from Permindex/Rothschilds/Murdoch. ”

This just seems like paranoid conspiracy thinking.

“They are the true globalists. Aka, so is Donald Trump.”

This is another comment that makes no sense.

205 John Van Sant July 6, 2016 at 1:13 am

Trumps ties to the Permindex/Rothschild/Murdoch(Cohn) global elite are BADLY undersold as much as his raping tweens. The media is under orders to “sell him”.

Trump is a con man and a user. The fact is, without the common market, Europe is a steaming pile of shit. It would basically decay into nothing while capital piles up globally. That is a large reason why the EEC came about in the first place and its interesting evolution.

206 Art Deco July 6, 2016 at 12:38 pm

Trumps ties to the Permindex/Rothschild/Murdoch(Cohn) global elite

Yeah, da Joos.

207 Careless July 6, 2016 at 1:09 pm

The media is under orders to “sell him”.

Wow. This is the worst attempt at a conspiracy theory I’ve ever seen

208 MyName July 6, 2016 at 2:03 am

Except that legally and politically, Scotland and Northern Ireland are *not* parts of England, they are part of the United Kingdom. They even have their own parliaments (though they still have to listen to Westminster). Scotland at least is likely to have another referendum on whether to leave the Union or not, and they can legally do so. Many of the Good Friday accords that brought peace to Ireland were also mediated by the EU and unification with Ireland is a possibility, maybe a longshot maybe not.
Brexit makes both of these scenarios more likely than remain did.

209 WillS July 6, 2016 at 4:32 am

“Brexit makes both of these scenarios more likely than remain did.”

There may well be another Scottish referendum, although I think it worthwhile pointing out Nicola Sturgeon was choosing her post-referendum words very carefully and there seems to have some rowing back on even that. It’s been assumed for some time that she’d only try to trigger one if independence had 60% support in opinion polls for at least 6 months because she knows 2nd loss would finish the issue, on the weekend after the brexit vote the polls reported it at 52%.

As for Northern Ireland, even assuming that the Republic really wanted unification with the North (as opposed to being in favour of it in theory), the admittedly sparse soundings I’ve taken from remain-supporting unionist friends in ulster suggest that the vote will have no effect at all.

210 Art Deco July 6, 2016 at 12:32 pm

Well, it is a policy decision that could destroy the UK. Br

There’s your talking points, and there’s reality. Quite a mess of affluent and semi-affluent countries survive quite satisfactorily outside the EU, the Nationalist minority is not taking Ulster out of the UK even if they open a can of worms and try to arrange for an adjustment of the frontier, and England and Wales will survive the departure of Scotland passably. 92% of the UK population does not live in Scotland and England and Wales would benefit from being free of the knucklehead Peronist majority in Scotland.

As for the rest of Europe, you have important separatist parties in only a few loci like Catelonia and Flanders. Belgium would benefit from a velvet divorce, so that’s not a threat.

211 Tom Warner July 5, 2016 at 7:03 pm

I agree here. I’d say odds are at least 60-40 in favor of Remain. The Tories wanted a result that would quiet the Brexiteers. They had no what-if back-up plan at all. But as we see the opportunist red-brown isolationist-nativist alliance that won Brexit clearly has no intention or ability to unite, let alone a unifying plan. So the Tories are just stalling and trying to calm things down. The leadership candidates all feel obliged to say they will carry through, but it seems clear that the biggest group of Tory MPs are going to vote for whoever seems most likely to stall and eventually cancel.

212 Art Deco July 6, 2016 at 12:35 pm

I agree here. I’d say odds are at least 60-40 in favor of Remain.

Ha ha ha


But as we see the opportunist red-brown isolationist-nativist alliance that won Brexit clearly has no intention or ability to unite

Mr. Warner, you have one talent: an aptitude for stoking schaldenfreude among your opponents when you don’t get what you want.

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