I Don’t Believe It

The Leave side was littered with xenophobic, racist, alt right, and all round loony people. The Remain side was filled with economists, political journalists, and reasonable people. I was convinced that, in the end, the UK as we knew it would survive this referendum.

But I wake up today to find that the UK has voted to leave the European Union. I’m still surprised. What does that mean for my British colleagues working here in Germany? What does that mean for the Europeans working in the UK?

More than that, what does that mean for democracy within the UK?

For one thing, there is now a genuine question over the shape of this kingdom. Scotland (like London) voted to remain inside the European Union. Every one of its political parties (bar the UK Independence Party) urged a remain vote. Yet now Scotland is set to be dragged out of the EU, against its collective will.

The demand will be loud and instant for Scotland to assure its own destiny by breaking free of the UK. This is precisely the kind of “material change” that the Scottish National party always said would be enough to warrant a second referendum to follow the one held in 2014. And this time, surely, there will be a majority for independence. So a first legacy of 23 June could well be the imminent break-up of the UK.

The implications will be profound for Northern Ireland too. The return of a “hard border” between north and south imperils a peace which was hard-won and too often taken for granted. Note this morning’s warning from Sinn Fein that the British government has “forfeited any mandate to represent the economic and political interests of people in Northern Ireland.”

This is a freaking mess. They’re going to take a massive hit to their stability and their currency now, at least in the short run. I think this move is going to hurt the UK far more than the EU, and I feel for them.

But it also gets me thinking… am I also going to see a Trump Presidency?


  1. sonofrojblake says

    what does that mean for democracy within the UK?

    It means it worked. Highest turnout for a ballot since 1992. Winning margin of over a million votes. Whatever criticisms you level at it, you can’t fault it for democracy.

    This time next year I anticipate President Trump having a meeting with Prime Minister Johnson. It’s deeply depressing.
    (I voted Remain, for what that was worth.)

  2. dianne says

    what does that mean for democracy within the UK?

    It means I must, reluctantly, take the award for stupidest electoral decision in a predominantly English speaking country away from the US and award it to Britain. The US made a strong showing with the Trump nomination and, of course, the Tea Party in Congress makes it a perennial favorite, but between Cameron and the Brexit vote, I must conclude that Britain has earned it. Don’t get cocky, though, Air Strip One, we have an election coming up that could blow your little indiscretion out of the water.

    As far as immediate effects on Britain, Europe, and the world, the first one seems to be that the pound is losing value at a ridiculous rate. Britain’s status in the EU won’t actually change for another 2 years while they negotiate their leave conditions. So no immediate effect on Brits working in Germany, but British students seeking postdocs in Germany and other EU countries may find them harder to come by.

  3. Kwt says

    Class warfare is real. Look at the geographic distribution, demographics, and most shockingly, the voter participation distribution vs the Leave or Remain votes.

    If you want a rational electorate, you’ll first have to create the conditions for it.

    People are fucking pissed, frustrated, and scared. And by people I don’t mean the financiers, manager level professionals and people of that socioeconomic class (who invariably are Londoners!), who are drowning my Facebook feed with “I can’t believe…”. Of course you bloody can’t! Leave’s campaign has been disgusting, but guess what kind of conditions create fertile ground for that sort of lizard-brain decisions?

    I know people who bemoan the stupidity of the Brexit camp while saying they love London. I have to stay away from desks for awhile.

    • says

      A bigger fear I have is England turning to Germany in the 1990s after the fall of the Berlin Wall. In the Rostock riots, roving gangs of racists and neo-nazis committed assaults and murders on non-white people who were citizens and legal immigrants into Germany.

      The worst scum of England’s populace will feel empowered by the vote, and are quite capable of perpetrating organized violence.

  4. Kwt says

    Sorry for the double post, but I’ve now seen joke calls for a London exit (by a banker). Words fail me at this point.

  5. sonofrojblake says

    If you want a rational electorate, you’ll first have to create the conditions for it.

    In fairness, we’ve been trying. One of the most reliable predictors of a Remain vote is a university degree. More young people are going to university than ever before. And surprise surprise, another reliable predictor of a Remain vote is youth.

    My stepbrother, who left school at 16, voted Leave. He observed to me last night (before the polls closed) that I was the only person he knew who was voting Remain. I bit my tongue hard and managed not to tell him that he was the only person I knew who was voting Leave, and that I believed that to be because all his friends left school at sixteen and all my friends have degrees.

    Demographics says it was old vs. young and bright vs. dumb, and the old and dumb won because hey, democracy, there’s more of them than us.

    It’s definitely not class warfare, unless it’s your contention that there are no working class people in Scotland. Good luck justifying that.

    • dianne says

      I think it’s partly a problem of data access. Older people and less educated people are more likely to get their information from the tabloids which have been saying how dangerous the EU is, especially with its immigrants, and making the case for leaving very strongly. If all someone hears is how the EU is taking your money and providing nothing in return except for dangerous and/or job stealing immigrants, voting leave is the rational thing to do. It’s just…based on a completely absurd postulate.

    • Kwt says


      It’s not so much the presence or absence (is that even possible) of a working class that characterises class warfare, but that of income (&wealth) inequality. I’m linking just one of the bazillion charts you can find easily.


      Not that anyone here needs another voice in the choir, but inequality makes fools of most of us. It’s the 1% buying convincing the 50% to give the other 49% a beat down.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *