Does the UK need a second Glorious Revolution?

by on June 28, 2017 at 1:05 am in Current Affairs, History, Law, Political Science | Permalink

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, more or less, here is one bit from it:

That leaving is so difficult, however, may in part explain the desire to leave. In the most sophisticated cases for Brexit, there is no acceptable resolution to the negotiating dilemmas. Rather many Brexiteers think their nation’s culture and legal system need to take their own courses. For better or worse, they think England in particular simply can’t become that much more “continental.” What appeared to be a wonderful deal — free trade but no euro — actually was viewed as a Trojan horse for the disappearance of British uniqueness. Over time the encroachments of EU law and governance will clash more and more with the underlying institutions and culture of the U.K., and something will have to give. Law and culture eventually must prove congruent, but EU legal and bureaucratic powers will inevitably grow, ultimately clashing with the notion of Britain as an idiosyncratic and independent nation. Culture and law cannot remain so separate forever.

I have myself been strongly pro-Remain, but I don’t dismiss the Leavers as a bunch of ill-informed voters or hapless victims of globalization. Counterintuitively, it is the supposedly undereducated Leavers who have the more theoretical and historical perspective. It doesn’t help that they initially were promised a much weaker set of ties with the EU, and so mistrust makes all of the complaints more potent.

On top of all this, many Brexiteers suspect there won’t be any better time to leave than now, and so “Remain” is for them an impossible stance over the longer run. Returning to history, ejecting James II seemed risky and destabilizing at the time, but for the most part the decision wasn’t regretted and it was better not to have hesitated.

Do read the whole thing.

1 Peter June 28, 2017 at 1:38 am

The sentence about “what is the truly English, [or] British … thing to do” doesn’t use the Oxford comma. A subtle joke?

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2 prior_test2 June 28, 2017 at 1:54 am

Seems like that might have been corrected – and just a few minutes ago at most.

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3 Cptn Obvious June 28, 2017 at 2:07 am

Of course, in the long run, EU project is about diluting national identity and turning it into United States of Europe. That itself is just a prototype for a future world government. So brexiters are just fighting something that is more or less inevitable, still given the weakness and poor quality of European leadership, I cant really blame them.

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4 prior_test2 June 28, 2017 at 3:29 am

Shh – Americans aren’t supposed to know that the EU plans world domination. In major part through the sneaky use of its common market concept.

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5 Brian Donohue June 28, 2017 at 1:28 pm

It’s a mercantilist club with goodies for members, as you know from some of your more honest comments.

Stuff like blocking agricultural exports from Africa and other humanitarian endeavors.

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6 Axa June 28, 2017 at 7:32 am

Diluting national identity in Europe? Continental Europeans describe themselves as Bretons or Alsacians first, French second, Basques first, Spanish second, Valaisan first, Swiss second and many many more regional identities that are stronger than national identities.

If you’ve talked to any guy with strong regional identity you’d laugh at the idea of the United States of Europe. Europe’s nation states identities come from the second part of the XIX century. They have been organized like that for aprox 150 years. They may reorganize once again, but the feeling of belonging to the people that talks your language, eats your way, and shares the valley with you is not going anywhere.

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7 M June 28, 2017 at 3:44 am

Tyler, how can you mention the Glorious Revolution without mentioning Parliament or the Bill of Rights 1689 and instead mentioning “public credit, a strong navy, Protestantism, and eventually the Industrial Revolution and consumer society”?

I can’t know if this is you crediting your readers with enough intelligence that you don’t need to, or crediting them with so little intelligence that you don’t have to.

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8 Alistair June 28, 2017 at 4:43 am

Yes, the whole Glorious Revolution is really about parliament asserting it’s own sovereignty. Probably not the lesson that Tyler intends in his piece.

But it is unclear what his analogue is actually supposed to be; continental influences bring modernity? Globalisation is always good? Orange was the new Black? I don’t know. Tyler’s lucidity and balance seems to desert him when it comes to Brexit. At least he has the decency not to be rude to his opponents, so full credit to him there. If all remainers where like him we might have a more useful dialogue.

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9 Nick June 28, 2017 at 4:17 am

The UK really needs to get over itself with being European but not ‘continental.’

It’s just a bullshit way of artificially setting themselves apart as a country (specifically it’s tribal in-group/out-group shit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingroups_and_outgroups), and regardless of whether this amounts to some sort of “historical perspective,” the fact is that it’s a *bad* perspective.

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10 tjamesjones June 28, 2017 at 4:25 am

interesting that you’ve chosen to use English to make this point

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11 Alistair June 28, 2017 at 4:31 am

Geography, language, history and economics means the UK has its actual, real, interests scattered about the globe and not concentrated in continental Europe. It is logical that our focus will be a bit less “continental” than those of our neighbours and friends. What’s wrong with that?

I make no apology or defence for having a tribal in-group. I suggest you get one of your own; you may feed you need one sooner than you think.

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12 Thiago Ribeiro June 28, 2017 at 4:52 am

“I suggest you get one of your own; you may feed you need one sooner than you think.”
James II surely needed, but William of Orange took it.

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13 Alistair June 28, 2017 at 6:10 am

I’m in high typo mode today.

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14 Art Deco June 28, 2017 at 6:00 am

Leaving is not terribly difficult and the ‘policy dilemmas’ are mundane. The process is an irritant for a contextually tiny population in the British diplomatic service. Among British citizens, the result will inconvenience a small population of expatriate retirees and business executives (as well as naturalized citizens who wish to import their relatives).

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15 Alistair June 28, 2017 at 6:24 am

Yes, even under quite extreme scenarios, the medium term costs and benefits are modest for all parties. Everyone needs to just chill out a little. It will be fun.

But it’s the End-of-The-World for some elites who are deeply emotionally or bureaucratically invested in the whole scheme. Honestly, the histrionics, the virtue signalling, the rage at not having the world organised for their primary benefit… it’s almost as if their concerns aren’t about economic welfare at all.

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16 JWatts June 28, 2017 at 10:55 am

“… it’s almost as if their concerns aren’t about economic welfare at all.”

+1

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17 Art Deco June 28, 2017 at 6:03 am

The moderator has now talked himself into a state of political lunacy,

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18 Alistair June 28, 2017 at 6:59 am

You read all of Tyler’s pieces on Brexit and it’s curious to note the lack of numeracy in an Econ blog. Where in other instances we have detailed discussions of minimal wage in Seattle, on this matter we have a dearth of grown-up economic analysis from the Remain side (don’t get me started on the joke of the Treasury scare paper). Where are the serious projections of growth rates? Regulatory burdens? Share of world trade? Exchange rate effects? Direct membership costs? Banking risks? Opportunities for trade with emerging markets? Immigration externalities? The silence is deafening.

As with this article it’s all vague references to “bad things” and “difficulties” and now “law vs culture” without spelling out exactly what their cost and benefit case is. Remainers pretend to detachment but don’t exhibit it.

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19 dearieme June 28, 2017 at 6:42 am

If the EU is such a marvellous organisation for Britain to belong to, it’s odd that not one Remainer made the case in the referendum campaign (or none that I noticed, anyway).

Instead the case was made for one or more of three plain different things. (i) The future, perfected EU: the pie-in-the-sky case was that by staying in the EU we would lead its reform until, mirabile dictu, it actually did suit us. (ii) NATO: the case was made that the EU had suppressed European warfare since 1945 and that it wouldn’t be able to continue to do so if we left. But of course it was NATO that achieved that, by the well known formula of keeping the Yanks in, the Russians out, and the Germans down. (iii) The Platonic Ideal of Europe: if we left the EU, we were told, we would be rejecting Europe. We could never listen to Beethoven again, or look at Rembrandt, they damned near implied.

Remainers, it’s true, didn’t spend all their time and money making their bogus positive cases; mainly they ran with the negative case of Project Fear. If we dared to vote to leave, then the next morning the stock market would collapse, the pound would sink to a few eurocents, and we’d lose our jobs and our hair. Probably our todgers would shrink too.

Many of the Project Fear people were the same chumps who had foretold similar dreadful consequences years ago if we didn’t join the Euro. That did rather undermine their claims to be experts. Or truthful. Or even sane.

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20 Alistair June 28, 2017 at 7:04 am

They assumed that cranking the hyperbole up to 11 would make the message more persuasive. A mistake. I can’t help feeling a more restrained ‘project fear’ would have been more effective. And a more positive campaign overall; there were few positive reasons really given for Remain.

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21 AnthonyB June 28, 2017 at 11:47 am

Please note that per EU rules the plural of “cent” (when denoting the centesimal unit of the Euro) is “cent” regardless of local usage.

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22 Evans_KY June 28, 2017 at 6:42 am

The Leavers consider immigrants and migrants to be the invading force. Only time will tell how the invasion and resulting Brexit may impact their nation. EU taxation without representation seems untenable in the long run.

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23 Axa June 28, 2017 at 7:40 am

A significant part of today’s immigrant population entered the island as “British subjects” or citizens of the British Empire. EU immigrants are a recent issue.

The funny thing is the desire of getting rid of migrants from the ex-colonies by closing the door to EU citizens. Good luck with that.

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24 Matthew Moore June 28, 2017 at 7:13 am

William of Orange was invited by Parliament, and ruled jointly with his English wife.

Seems like relevant context for the metaphor.

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25 Art Deco June 28, 2017 at 9:20 am

Parliament passed the Act of Settlement in 1701, and was willing to take just about anyone but the legitimate king, including the decadent German prince installed in 1714, who spoke too little English to make it worth his while to attend cabinet meetings or supervise his ministers himself. His grand-daughter six or seven times removed is the only British monarch in 300 years whose ancestry is not predominantly German (and then she went and married a vagabond prince from the House of Glucksburg).

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26 JonFraz June 28, 2017 at 1:46 pm

From the Conquest down to the accession of George VI every English monarch who wed took a foreign spouse except Edward IV, Richard III, Henry VII and Henry VIII in four of his six marriages. (John, Henry IV and James II himself had had English wives before they came to the throne but married foreign ladies in their second marriages)

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27 JonFraz June 28, 2017 at 1:42 pm

He also was not as utterly foreign as depicted here since he had an English mother (and through her was already in line for the British throne) and was married an English wife.

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28 Ralph E June 28, 2017 at 8:10 am

It’s more like England invited a pro-Brexit continental European strong enough to defend against a tyrannical EU. Brexit is a new glorious revolution, it just lacks a leader of the caliber of William.

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29 Borjigid June 28, 2017 at 9:09 am

Yeah, continental Europe is pretty much an undifferentiated mass these days. Sad that all it took was a few decades of a common market to eradicate millennia of culture and institutions.

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30 Captn Obvious June 28, 2017 at 11:16 am

Yes, Finland, Spain, Poland, all soooo similar 🙂

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31 Mr. Econotarian June 28, 2017 at 12:12 pm

Looking for study titled “GDP Loss due to the Regime Uncertainty of the Glorious Revolution”

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32 Jim June 28, 2017 at 5:44 pm

How do you arrive at the conclusion that the public doesn’t want Hard Brexit? Labour turned things around in the polls when they committed to hard brexit in their manifesto (Corbyn and McDonnell are lifelong Eurosceptics who were coerced into tepidly backing Remain in the campaign). Polling shows support for leaving the Single Market and Customs Union.

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34 Tim L July 2, 2017 at 2:36 am

The article’s good, but still persists with the error that Brexiteers were against foreign influence. They were against EU, not Europe.

Vote Leave was probably the most pro-free-trade, pro-globalisation political organisation in any large country in the western world – with perhaps the most cosmopolitan leaders.

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