Taking French Leave

In London on the eve of the Euro Referendum, I have been talking a fair bit about it with old friends.

The polls seem very evenly balanced. So no clear answer there. Surprisingly, the bookies are still giving fairly long odds against Brexit, and the bookies are often more reliable than then pollsters.

Pretty much everyone whose opinion I value is agreed about this: there will be no catastrophe either way:

  • If Brexit wins, our predominantly Remainian parliament will drag its feet. The EU is a master at the game when it loses any vote. It waits a little while, changes the name of what has just been voted down, and then does it anyway. So the UK will probably sign some sort of deal with the EU which is pretty much the same as our present position. Our power to influence European decisions will stay pretty much as it now, i.e. more or less bugger all. Impact on the markets will be modest and temporary.  Investment in the UK will rise in some sectors and fall in others.
  • If Remain wins, the EU will push ahead for a while, and then fall apart, at least in some respects. The project is doomed as far as free movement etc is concerned. In the meantime, there will be some real pain for the UK as it is forced to accept more economic migrants or pay fines for not doing enough on that front. There will probably be some “punishment” of the UK for stepping out of line and holding the referendum at all.

So, in terms of economic impact, probably pretty evenly balanced.

Likewise, no war either way. Decent European wars always involve France. And France has a nuclear deterrent. So another big war is a country miles away from prospect. If there is a war, it will be Europe invading Greece or Catalonia or Basque to quell an uprising against the EU in one of those regions.

Each side has talked a lot of tosh in the campaign, and has been less than entirely honest.

Interestingly, Remain has won the political correctness ground. Just as in days gone by, people went to church and chanted a lot of stuff they did not really believe because that showed piety, so now people are chanting “Remain” to show their liberal credentials.  Which is a bit weird, because Brexit would enable the UK to do trade deals with the poor countries of the world, which would be far more humane than the protectionist policy of the wealthy EuroClub. But then again, the Remainians have been able to point to some pretty reactionary supporters of Brexit, and that wins the Remainians the Watermelon vote.

But for every Watermelon, there is a bulldog. So pretty evenly balanced there too.

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