In a previous post I promised an update on Brexit—the UK’s recent vote to leave the European Union. I realize that the world is watching these events and that they are changing from moment to moment. If you want to know the latest, just tune in to the news. What I may be able to add to the coverage is the perspective of someone on the ground here in Penzance, Cornwall, UK. My perspective is based on the the informal talks I’ve had with locals and the news coverage here in the UK.
The people I have talked with seem to view their vote to leave as a matter of regaining their sovereignty. They say that the bureaucrats in Brussels want to create a “United States of Europe” and they say they want a traditional United Kingdom where England is for the English and their politicians respond to the concerns of their constituency—the British citizens. They seem not to view this as racism, but they do say that it is a small island and already crowded with the current citizens. They don’t feel that their needs are being met, and they feel that the EU is forcing them to accept immigrants and provide them with social services that are superior to those the British citizens receive. They say that the country should take care of its own first before responding to people coming from outside. One hears “England for the English” as a rallying cry.
The people I’ve talked with seem not to realize that their actions in leaving the EU have set in motion wide-ranging events that may reshape the future of Europe and the rest of the world. They take a more local perspective. One person talked at length about how the Newlyn fisheries were not allowed to fish the suddenly abundant haddock in their waters because they did not have the permit to do so. She said that when they asked if they could simply give the fish they unintentionally caught to the local poor, they were denied permission and had to toss the dead fish overboard. Meanwhile, the French fishermen had the proper permits and took all the fish they could back to France. (A headline in The Guardian newspaper warns that Brexit will not mean a change in UK fishing rights anyway.)
We also heard how Brexit promised to take the money going to the EU and plow it back into the failing National Health Service. As soon as Brexit won, the same leaders back-tracked on that promise, saying that it was “a mistake.” Mistake or outright lie?
On the other side, many Brexit sympathizers say that all the market turmoil and fears of the collapse of the UK are just fear mongering on the part of the “remain” group and the Powers That Be. They say that things will settle down and get back to normal very soon. Only time will tell.
I have talked with one person who, I thought, had a broader perspective. Perhaps he only seemed more sensible because I agree with him. He said that the EU was taking positions that were not in the interests of large, international corporations and that these corporations were in the process of destroying the EU for business reasons. My general philosophy is that one is seldom wrong if one asks, “Whose financial interests does this serve?” It is certainly not in the interests of Monsanto Corporation for the EU to continue to ban its GMO seeds and the herbicide Roundup, and I can imagine that a Europe without the EU would be more profitable for Monsanto.
We recenty learned that Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP and an ardent Brexit supporter, has stepped down. It is amazing how the Brexit folks aren't staying around to implement the British exit. Now, I've just learned the following from The Guardian Newspaper:
"George Osborne is planning to cut corporation tax to below 15% in a bid to encourage businesses to invest in a Britain outside the European Union.
The chancellor said the move was part of a five-point plan to breathe life into the economy, following his warning before the referendum that a Brexit vote would trigger a DIY recession in the UK.
'We must focus on the horizon and the journey ahead and make the most of the hand we’ve been dealt,' Osborne told the Financial Times, adding that the UK faced a 'very challenging time.'
The chancellor did not provide a specific timeframe for cutting corporation tax to below 15%, but said Britain should 'get on with it,' to reassure investors that the UK is open for business."
International corporations win again. Surprise, surprise!
Boris Johnson says, "It was wrong of the government to offer the public a binary choice on the EU without being willing – in the event that people voted leave – to explain how this can be made to work in the interests of the UK and Europe. We cannot wait until mid-September, and a new PM."
So, Farage is out, Johnson is blaming the government for the mess he helped create, and Corbin won't leave in spite of a vote of no confidence. How is it that the world is suddenly filled with Trump wannabes?
I was given the perfect analogy for the Brexit vote by a local wag here in Penzance: “How do you get a cat off your roof? Burn your house down!” Enough said.