My post to Metafilter about the People’s Vote March and the latest Brexit developments has spawned a vibrant thread (and was even featured in the Best Of sidebar, quite an honour). Here it is, with some of my subsequent comments in edited form.
Never Mind the Brexit
Two days after thousands marched in London for a People’s Vote, Bloomberg reports that political insiders helped hedge fund managers make millions by shorting the market over the EU referendum. Security analyst James Patrick adds evidence that more millions were made by betting the opposite way on cryptocurrencies. In Westminster, hardline Tories tell Theresa May to get ready for no-deal, even as evidence piles up that a no-deal Brexit will ground Britain to a halt and that there’s no back-up plan for Northern Ireland. One study indicates that Brexit has already slowed UK growth by 2.1%, and is costing the UK government £440 million a week. Brexiters are discovering that the UK already had the best model: EU membership.
James Patrick, a former police officer, warned in the days before the People’s Vote march of attempts to foment unrest with a countermarch ending nearby. Fortunately, his warnings appear to have been taken seriously, and a solid police presence helped the march go off peacefully. The organisers estimate that 100,000+ marched, but others estimate that there were twice as many or more. At the pro-Brexit march, meanwhile, a few thousand people carried some suspiciously familiar flags. As Labour frontbenchers defend their no show at the anti-Brexit march, a pro-Corbyn group has launched a drive for a public vote on the final Brexit deal, while marchers themselves ask: where’s Jeremy Corbyn?
Speech of the afternoon for me, though, as one of the thousands in Parliament Square that day, was by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, not least for her robust defence of freedom of movement. Can Brexit be turned around in the face of hardline Tory, far-right and left-Lexit resistance, by defending all of the four freedoms and the EU’s regulatory role? Are the Tory rebels for real, or are we really going over the cliff?
The hedge fund story is big news, although I’m not sure it adds much to the case against the 2016 referendum when we already have evidence of Cambridge Analytica dodginess, collusion among Leave campaigns, and Russian interference. None of that seems to have shifted the “you lost, get over it” brigade, so I doubt this will either. Maybe it will sway some soft Leavers, though.
One of the more interesting links here for me was the piece on EU regulation, which highlights a contradiction at the heart of the sovereignty debate: “staggeringly high rates of popular support in the UK for European levels of regulation [of] between 70-80%”.
Another was the piece on UK non-preparedness for a hard Irish border: “Even if we take the two-year transition period into account, there is still not enough time to design, build and implement an entirely new customs regime and associated infrastructure on 206 crossing points by the 2020 deadline.” One comment on that page points out an obvious implication: “if there is a border it will be at the ports...only 2 of them not 208 and the infrastructure there is largely in place. WTO rules require that the UK controls that border and they have done nothing, leaving only one place it can go...on the sea. Sorry Arlene.” Will the DUP topple May’s minority government to prevent a sea border? Who knows.
The links I included about the pro-Brexit march are from the Twitter account of an academic researcher on football fans, who appears to have been an impartial observer there. He/she captured some snippets of audio that would get anyone’s anti-fascist Spidey sense tingling—so the far-right groups are out there. But they got a few thousand to turn out, while the People’s Vote march got 50 to 100 times as many, who were all pretty well-behaved.
I had seen the warnings and was prepared for the worst (my 11-year-old son had his phone with him, and we’d identified the streets off to the left of Whitehall that would get us down to the Thames and/or onto Westminster Bridge if it all kicked off), but as it happened the “worst” was his gleeful chanting of “Bollocks to Brexit”* and pointing out approvingly the placards visualising Brexit as a pile of shit. Which, y’know, I could hardly fault him for.
*Popular chant and sticker on the day, hence this post’s title.