The threat of invoking Article 50 will be pre-empted by the French and the Germans soliciting our remaining with promises of a more ‘accommodated’ UK. These countries require the UK as resident arbitrator so as to lessen the risk of a permanent impasse between them.
Hi — — — — —,
I thought I would reply to just one point, the above. You might well be right, but to be frank it is just one of several possible ways the whole nonsense could play itself out.
If what you suggest above were to happen (and I agree entirely that the UK is the third leg of a three-legged stool), the Germans and French might well want to accommodate the Brits, but it wouldn't be up to them. It would be up to the EU as a whole, several of whose members - Poland, the Baltics, Slovakia, Hungary and Croatia - benefit very well thank you very much from 'the free movement of labour' and would be dead set against it. It keeps their domestic employment figures looking healthy and remittances from their citizens working in the wealthier EU countries keep their finance very stable. So I can't see much happening on that score.
Then there's the furore that would be created here in Britain if the government of the day, probably Tory, went against the referendum vote (which was, admittedly, merely advisory), loads of folk determined to 'reclaim their destiny' taking to the streets demanding Britain bring back the death penalty for foreigners and if the Fifties was all right for the Fifties, how come it is suddenly not all right for the year 2016? Answer that one!
It would, though, take the sting out of the threat of Scotland's secession from the UK, although the EU has made it very clear that Scotland wouldn't get an automatic pass to rejoin swiftly were that to happen, and anyway the Spanish prime minister is dead against it. And would certainly take the sting out of the never simple what we should probably start calling 'the Irish question' again.
As it stands, and were the UK to leave, there would be an EU border right across Irish bandit country, a very long one at that, and differences in price etc would most certainly give rise a huge amount of smuggling. Then there are the renewed calls for reunification. Christ, it would be back to the Troubles again, with a vengeance.
I was reading in the Economist just last night of a likely crisis in the Italian banking industry, and the paper suggested that in time a renewed euro crisis, this time involving Italy, the fourth-largest EU economy rather than a minnow like Greece, could well end with the collapse of the EU. If that were to happen, or rather if that were on the cards, we might well see a panicked EU try to save what it can by thoroughly restructuring itself. And if that were the case, an EU far more to the liking of Brexiteers could well emerge i.e. something more akin to a trading bloc with all this ever-closer political union bollocks thrown overboard, and far more stringent rules governing the movement of labour.
There are other dangers facing the EU: Austria is to re-run its May presidential election and the far-right chappie might well get in this time. And if he did, he would find a willing ally in Hungary which, if not ostensibly far-right, is run by a cunt for whom the democratic process is very much a nuisance and who is rather anti-semitic.
Then there's the news of two days ago that Austria is searching every vehicle crossing from Hungary and Hungary is now doing the same, which drives a coach and four through the Schengen waffle. But even if my scenario were to take place rather than yours, it wouldn't all happen over one weekend and the political uncertainty would create economic chaos eventually worldwide given how 'the world is now global' (who've have thought it, ed?)
So there we have it: Britain is fucked if they do and fucked if they don't. And, who knows: if the EU were to collapse with all members retreating into their previous nationalistic shells, continental-wide peace might be a thing of the past, and with my putative recession happening, loads of folk unemployed and many more on the breadline, fighting a war might well strike many countries with scores to settle as a useful way of keeping the great - now jobless - unwashed busy and out of trouble. (I distinctly remember how Bohemia viciously insulted Carpathia in 1767, and that
How Northamptonshire will look once they've seen off the Carpathians
grave slight is still festering deep in Carpathian hearts and calls to 'Carpathian men' to restore national pride have continued for the past 249 years. So watch out, Bohemia, there might well soon be no EU finger anymore to wag at Carpathia and insist this isn't the way to settle quarrels.)
Actually, despite all that, the truth is no one is in any position to guess what might happen in Europe. It is worth quoting the two gibes made at economists:
1) Ask ten economists what they think will happen over the next few weeks and you'll get 15 answers. (And isn't it odd how there are several economists who we revere for correctly predicting past recession, but we conveniently forget all those whose firm predictions turned out to be so much cack in the pan?)
2) An economist is a man who will convincingly explain today what what he convincingly predicted yesterday didn't happen. On thing is certain: when, next Wednesday, I fly out to Bordeaux for my annual concert-going with my 81-year-old aunt, I shall, for eight days, be crapping daily in a European bog.
Once again, given the length of this response, I shall, with your implicit approval, also post it as a blog entry, If, of course, you invoke your inalienable human right not to have your correspondence plastered all over the internet, you can also call on the good services of the European Court of Human Rights to have the post removed. (NB 'the information superhighway' we all kept talking about: what happened to that? These days the only information I get is that Argos is holding yet another special sale and that if I apply swiftly, I can get four spades for the price of two at Tooltime.co.uk.)
All the best and better stock up on garlic and Camembert now while pound will stand it.
. . .
1) a Belgian novelist?
2) a Sixties French/German existentialist?
3) a Lutheran theologian?
4) a Portuguese snake oil salesman?
5) a newly retired IT manager from Macclesfield who is upping sticks and moving with his wife and Vauxhall Safira to Devon now the kids are out of the house? ('We've always loved Devon').
Answers, please, on a postcard and sent to the usual address*.
(*Cell C33, Pentonville Prison, Caledonian Rd., London N7 8TT, United Kingdom.)