Apparently Everyone is Supposed to Have Strong Opinions on the “Brexit”

Thomas Knapp

But I don’t.

In large part, I defer to my friend Sean Gabb of the UK’s Libertarian Alliance since he’s there and knows quite a bit about the British situation and since I’m not and don’t. He did vote for it, but he also expresses more skepticism than I would have expected toward the notion that it’s all that and a bag of chi … er, crisps. Here’s his latest on the subject.

The thoughts I do have are tentative and as follows:

  • A lot of people seem to think that the United Kingdom has exited the European Union. It hasn’t. The EU is a treaty organization from which the UK can withdraw on the basis of a prescribed negotiation process. The referendum last Thursday was the UK’s voters instructing the UK’s government to begin that process. If the government accepts those instructions, it will still probably be years before the actual exit occurs. And I expect that there will be herculean, and quite likely successful, efforts on both sides of the English Channel to get a new referendum and to frighten the electorate into reversing itself.
  • That said, the result certainly does seem to have given the political class big scare, and not just in the UK or the EU. That’s always a good thing.
  • Some people attribute the outcome of the “Brexit” referendum to discontent with matters of borders and immigration. That discontent is certainly real and certainly affected votes … but blaming those things on EU membership seems misplaced. The UK opted out of the Schengen agreement, and thus maintained substantial control over its own border and immigration policy. Those decisions were made in London, not Brussels, so leaving the EU does nothing to unmake them. Think of it as sort of like those Americans who voted against Obama because they believed he was a Muslim and/or born in Kenya. Neither of those things appear to be true, but that doesn’t mean the belief didn’t influence some votes.
  • Just guessing here, but I’m guessing that if the UK does exit the EU, other countries will follow; and
  • Just guessing again, but I’m guessing that in the event the UK and other countries do exit the EU, we can look forward to a general European war a la World Wars 1 and 2 within 20 years or so.

And that’s about it. Sorry I don’t have more for you.



  1. Well Thomas, this is a British issue and you’re not in Britain. I daresay you care about it as much as I care about Trump/Clinton. That is; aware, somewhat interested, but not keeping me awake nights.

    My own view btw is that war is more likely if the EU survives, but an extremely messy war of class against class and ethnogroup against ethnogroup, a great continent spanning Civil War. The future is radically unpredictable, but that is my guess.

  2. In 1914, Georges Clemenceau said that the only outstanding problem of the balance of power in Europe since Waterlloo was that there were 20 million too many Germans. Indeed,since then only one state has made war on the continent … twice against Denmark and once each against Austria and France in the nineteenth century, and after Prussia had morphed into Germany, the two wars of the twentieth.
    By the late 1930’s Nazi Germany was spending almost 20% of its GDP on its military. No democratically elected government could spend remotely close to such a sum and remain in office.
    The EU average defence budget is now slightly under 2% of GDP. The notion that even Germany could embark on a pre-emptive war of conquest on Hitlerian or Napoleonic lines on such a basis is light years beyond preposterous!

  3. Ian B,

    “Well Thomas, this is a British issue and you’re not in Britain. I daresay you care about it as much as I care about Trump/Clinton. That is; aware, somewhat interested, but not keeping me awake nights.”

    That’s my attitude. But many Americans seem to consider it their duty to care about it and have strong opinions on it. Knowing about it, not so much.

    • I don’t think it’s much of an issue for America, it’s a domestic European thing. I don’t even think Obama much cared, he intervened because Cameron asked him to as a favour.

  4. There will be no war. The US will insist on UK and Germany allying which they will happily do.

  5. In the age of the bomb Eurowar in the old way is unlikely.

    The EU was partly an alliance of Europe’s political and bureaucratic scum to enable them to rip everybody off under the same roof without the internecine strife that the mushroom cloud would make too dangerous.

    If you are sitting in your government bunker eating a tin of peaches you are still a member of the elite esp if everybody outside is dead or heading that way fast.

    But it doesn’t compare to them taking their latest mistress/bumchum dining at the Savoy pre-West End Premiere.

    • I can easily see the EU getting itself into a war with Russia once it has its army. They will be subject to the dynamics of Great Power politics, without any experience of how to do it and, with armed forces at their command, eager to flex their muscles. That will mean Eastern Europe stuck in the middle and flattened again.

      Britain’s traditional European role has been foiling Empires on the continent. We didn’t fight Napoleon, and the Germans (twice) for the shits and giggles. It is probably going to fall to us to do that again, by breaking up the EU before it ever gets to that point, hopefully.

  6. The idea that the warmongering EU is a force for peace is very ironic and quite false. It is an attempt at a super state to rival the late USSR and the USA. A major aim of war with the USSR to reunite Germany came about without the EU achieving a state, which it may never do anyway owing to the many real nations and languages involved. Those obstacles do make it largely peaceful but that was never its real aim.

    • I never said that peace was the EU’s aim.

      I said — or, rather, implied — that peace appears to have been one of the EU’s effects.

      There’s a difference.

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