Why Brexit Still Matters
Quite a lot has happened since the United Kingdom officially left the European Union on January 31st 2020. Barely two months had passed before we were subjected – with the mere stroke of a pen – to mass house arrest, compulsory mask wearing, absurd distancing rules and a general shutdown of the economy before being threatened with the possibility of mandatory or coerced vaccinations. While, touchwood, the COVID panic seems to have subsided for now, today the West is fighting a proxy war with Russia in Ukraine, the global economy is in tatters, inflation is rising, and food and energy security have become a top priority in the rich world. The infliction of impoverishment and destitution in order to fulfil globalist, technocratic agendas has met the response of widespread protests on the continent (and even more notably in Sri Lanka, which has ousted its President).
Moreover, all of this has taken place against the backdrop of an accelerating culture war. Real and imagined divisions or fault lines based on gender, race, sexual orientation and religion have been exploited and exaggerated; Western values are denigrated as “imperialist” and “supremacist”; today, the definition of a “woman” seems to be a major political talking point, and yet even only five years ago it would have been laughed off the agenda.
In light of these cataclysmic developments, it is not unusual to see one or two commentators on the right stating that the now distant memory of Brexit no longer has much importance. Frequent among these is journalist James Delingpole, who has tweeted words to this effect on more than one occasion. In terms of magnitude, it is true that any victory achieved by Brexit seems dwarfed by these later events, together with the growth of state power they have enabled. Nevertheless, I think such a view is short-sighted, and at least the spirit, if not the act of Brexit, remains crucial to resisting the onslaught of tyranny.
It’s important to realise that none of the events described has occurred in isolation. Rather, Brexit was the first battle in what is likely to prove a long war against the consolidation and centralisation of power and decision making authority into an ever dwindling handful of supranational institutions. Such global governance is operated at the behest of elites and technocrats whose radical visions for the social and economic order are scarcely within the interests of the populations they rule.
Prior to 2016, it is likely that the political establishment believed that they could coast along to around the year 2050 (or farther), implementing their series of transformative visions in a piecemeal fashion without encountering any serious opposition. After all, any major ideological differences – such as that between “capitalism” and “socialism” – seem to have been killed off after the demise of Soviet Communism, subsumed by a liberal democratic consensus. It was difficult not to believe that we were destined for a “rules-based” world order of open borders, neo-liberal economic policies, managed trade, “decarbonised” industry, and a global monoculture based on openness and tolerance of all lifestyles, religions, and choices under the banner of “human rights”.
Brexit, and the election of Donald Trump on his “America First” platform shortly after, were the first indications that this cosy vision of the near future was, to put it politely, inaccurate. To anyone who bothered to peer outside of the M25 or the Washington beltway, neither of these two events was a tremendous surprise. But for those living in the bubble we just described – a cadre largely insulated from the negative economic and social consequences of the policies they championed – these elections were an earthquake. Such shock wasn’t manifest solely in what seemed to be the mere unlikelihood of the outcomes; rather, it was the apparent absurdity that bowled them over. How could any right thinking person possibly want to extract a tiny island from one of the world’s largest trading blocs to “go it alone”? How could anyone in their right mind want to hand the potty mouthed, oafish orange man the keys to the Oval Office? After seventy years of progress in the name of global peace and co-operation (under the West’s terms, of course), weren’t we now retrogressing to the dark days of the 1930s – back to fascism, nationalism, racism and war?
As a result of this delusion, the next four years were dominated by a single-minded attempt to reverse each result by any means possible. Whether it was Russiagate or Referendum 2, no holds were left barred if it meant an opportunity to put right that which had gone so catastrophically wrong. Such efforts went as far as the smearing and denigrating of the wayward voters as racist, xenophobic, “uneducated” deplorables, in spite of them numbering at least half the population of each of the UK and US. To the soy latte sipping, laptop class, what else was there to explain the motivation to abandon a glorious future?
In spite of failing to come to terms with the true nature of populist movements’ antithesis to elite, global goals, this desperation indicates that the beneficiaries of the current power structure have come to a stark realisation: that time is no longer on their side. Such a revelation has, no doubt, been exacerbated by the fact that the inflationary financial system, the source of their unearned privilege for more than fifty years, is teetering on the edge of collapse. Thus, the transition to a new system in which their power and control is maintained has become a more urgent priority, manifest in bringing forward the radical transformation of our economies and societies.
One attempt to regain the upper hand in this regard was the COVID panic itself – with Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum infamously declaring it an “opportunity” to “Build Back Better” through his “Great Reset”. For one thing, it most likely led to Trump’s loss of the presidency – either genuinely or fraudulently, depending upon on your view of the 2020 election. Indeed, it is difficult to believe that, had Hillary Clinton won the White House, the global string pullers would have seen as much need to upset the social and economic apple cart in this gargantuan fashion. More specifically, the ushering in of digital passports through the manufactured need for mass vaccination was a distinct effort at laying the foundation for a controlled society. While this particular attempt seems to have failed for now, the objective of introducing digital ID in general has not, and so we can expect any excuse to be exploited in order to slip it in as an alleged “necessity” – central bank digital currencies, rationing of energy and food (should it come to that), and online safety, for instance. The spectre of a permanent political architecture of surveillance and control will continue to hang in the air like the whiff of an approaching thunderstorm on a summer’s day.
At the level of individual countries we can see long term schemes now being squeezed into as short a time frame as possible – especially those concerned with climate change, which seems to be the inroad for accomplishing economic transformation. For instance, an original target of the UK government was to achieve an 80% reduction from 1990’s level of greenhouse emissions by 2050; that goal has now morphed into “net zero” emissions by 2050. The ban on petrol and diesel cars was originally slated for 2040; it’s now 2030. The absurd ban on new gas boilers will take effect as soon as 2025.
However, as is now becoming apparent with the Dutch farmers’ protests, the acceleration of these goals is likely to result in an equally accelerated backlash against these transformative programmes. The more the grip is tightened, the more eager people will be to escape it. There are several reasons why this is likely to continue.
First, one of the problems with trying to enforce a new political and economic order is that it is very difficult to do so ex nihilo. Rather, there needs to be some event, or catalyst, that spurs the need for radical change. The goal of preventing climate change – regardless of whether it is either sincere or a mere excuse employed to reconfigure economic and social patterns to suit some other plan – is unlikely to suffice in this regard. For one thing, the welfare of “the planet” is too abstract and too remote from people’s perceptions. As has been said, no one is going to worry about the end of the world if they are struggling to reach the end of the month. But there is also the question of whether the theory of anthropogenic warming is viable in the first place. The public may have acquiesced to this theory so far; but if adhering to it is to make a serious, material impact upon their lives, then the whole “science” behind climate change will be subject to even more intense scrutiny.
Second, it is true that such crises could be manufactured in order to justify a radical overhaul. Indeed, COVID was one such attempt to usher in what was being described initially as a “new normal”. War could be another. It is still possible for energy and food security to suffice. However, it is rather difficult to do this when the people who want to introduce a new system are the very ones who are already in charge. If such crises occur on their watch then why should we trust them with the solution? Indeed, as I have mentioned previously, programmes such as the so-called “Great Reset” are essentially the existing elitist, inflationary, corporatist system on steroids. Why would anyone want this? Any push for radical change from the grass roots is therefore likely to sweep away everything, including those at the top.
Third is the fact that the capitalist economy has now become so complex, and the general standard of living so advanced, that tinkering with it from on high is likely to be very difficult without inflicting a severe degree of impoverishment. We know from our knowledge of economics that any major inroad into an economic order based upon private property must result in an abrupt halt to (and retardation of) economic progress. As the twentieth century’s experiment with communism showed, it is quite possible to transform relatively prosperous nations into basket cases. More recently, Venezuela – once the wealthiest South American country, with the world’s largest volume of proven oil reserves – was destroyed by its embrace of socialism. Here in the West, in spite of the cataclysms of inflationary paper money, generous welfare states and corporate favouritism, all of these have served as mere intrusions into, or leeches off of, a system that has still basically functioned as a private property order. Such interferences can, of course, corrupt and impair that order over a period of time, but they haven’t served to eradicate or reverse all economic progress. We are clearly not living in the Stone Age.
However, the extreme levels of transformation being demanded now certainly do threaten a very sharp reduction in the capacity to produce the goods and services necessary to sustain our standard of living. Major changes are being wrought from the top-down through innocuous sounding metrics and concepts such as “Environmental, Social and Governance” (ESG) standards, and “stakeholder capitalism”. Not only do these serve as smokescreens for state control over enterprise, but their main effect is to eradicate the creation of economic value as the criterion for success. At 98.1%, Sri Lanka has one of the highest “environmental impact” scores in the world (the United States, by comparison, achieves only 58.7%). And yet its decision, last year, to ban chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides in an effort to encourage organic farming has led to the present food crisis and the resulting, mass protests.
Worse, much of the justification for this transformation echoes the eco-fundamentalist notion that humans are a cancer on the scourge of an inherently beautiful Earth, and that “nature” should be left as untouched as possible. As such, much of this impoverishment is being marketed as a direct virtue, an atonement for our decades of plenty. It is difficult enough for regimes to peddle impoverishment as a sacrifice in return for rewards in the future; it is nigh on impossible to tout it as an end in itself. For the past three decades, “green energy” has essentially meant running down the existing fossil fuel infrastructure while chucking subsidies at inferior alternatives such as windmills. People have been content to ignore this policy of capital consumption so long as the lights stayed on and the petrol kept pumping at affordable prices. But the realpolitik of the resulting energy crisis has now led to countries returning to the reliability of fossil fuels, in spite of their green pledges.
Further, it is possible that making people’s lifestyles needlessly expensive is, in fact, the objective so as to manufacture demand for “solutions” that happen to be inline with the technocratic agenda. However, this is likely to be a long shot. Rising food prices are not going to make people want to switch to eating bugs or lab grown mush; rather, they will demand a way to make beef and chicken as affordable as they were before. They won’t want heat pumps when they currently have gas boilers. Why bother with electric vehicles – unaffordable to most – when reliable petrol/diesel cars are still fresh in the memory? If farmers face bankruptcy as a result of EU pollution regulations it is obvious that they will demand removal of the regulations ahead of selling out to greedy, politically connected corporations waiting in the wings. Without extreme forms of coercion – itself, very difficult once non-compliance stretches above a tiny minority – people are not going to want to voluntarily clamour for worse options when it is clear that the origin of their plights is neither COVID nor Putin’s war in Ukraine, but government policy.
So where does Brexit come in all of this? Essentially, it is an unfinished job. We may be out of the EU, but this country still suffers from a ridiculous degree of centralised governance from the Westminster bubble – a bubble which, for the most part, is fully signed up to all of the destructive policies we have been outlining in this article. To those living in Britain’s regions, these people are every bit as remote as the Brussels bureaucrats. Indeed, the fact that our regulatory system is still heavily aligned with the EU, and that we still move in lockstep with globalist preoccupations, shows that there is little appetite for wanting to capitalise on our newly won independence. As I have said on quite a few occasions before, whichever career politician happens to be installed as leader is going to make little difference – it is the system itself that is the problem. And yet too much of the country seems to remain preoccupied with moving the pieces around the Westminster chessboard.
Given that it is topical, we might as well mention how the fall of Boris Johnson – or rather, the manner of it – illustrates the insulated nature of the political class, and why changing tack from within our system of government is likely to prove a Herculean task. For all intents and purposes, Johnson has been a sore disappointment during his three years in office. Amongst other things, this most outwardly libertarian of Prime Ministers inflicted upon us the COVID lockdowns while capitulating fully to the net zero agenda. In fact, he seems to have done everything possible to pander to those who will never vote for him while repelling his natural allies. In an absolute sense, I am not sorry to see him go. And yet his removal was effectively an establishment coup justified by the flimsiest of excuses. Like Donald Trump in the US, they don’t want him so they will make sure he is gone. And again, like Trump, they seem to think that shifting the key personnel at the top is all that is needed to make their problems go away. For instance, has-been Michael Heseltine, together with never-has-been Andrew Adonis, tie Brexit personally to Boris Johnson, sensing an opportunity to either reverse or at least ‘ameliorate’ it upon his departure. But Johnson was merely the vessel through which Brexit was accomplished. It didn’t happen because of him, but because 17.4 million people voted for it. These people aren’t just going to roll over if a new, anti-Brexit leader should grab the reins any more than MAGA Americans rolled over with the election of Joe Biden.
In fact, Johnson, for his part, might end up enjoying something of a post-Prime Ministerial renaissance. It is probably true to say that he still retains a considerable body of support throughout the country, paving the way either to an eventual comeback or to setting him up as a focal point of opposition. It wouldn’t be surprising if, having been shorn of the pressures of high office, he was to facilitate this with a reversion to his prior anti-authoritarian, libertarian, quasi-populist self – a task which would seem less shameless if his successor proves to be worse than he was (not an unlikely outcome) or if Brexit should be thwarted. Either way, he is unlikely to keep a low profile, especially as so few public figures can match his level of brand awareness.
Anyhow, Brexit was a form of secession from a consolidated and centralised political institution to which the people of this country do not want to belong; it was touted as a way to “take back control” from a remote and unelected Brussels Eurocracy. Further, it was a giant middle finger to the elite cadre who had lost sight of the fact that they were supposed to work for us rather than vice versa. That spirit united half the country. But now, it is time we took back control from our own elites as well, and to wrest decision making authority away from the centre. It is vital, therefore, that both the form and spirit of Brexit remains alive and kicking.
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 For my own part, I did not think that Britain would vote to leave the EU; I did, however, expect Donald Trump to win the presidency.
 In fact, this is likely to be the eventual outcome, which is why I’ve suggested that libertarians should start thinking ahead to the point after the attempt at global communism has failed.
 Indeed, the experience of Johnson alone should be a lesson to those who maintain that electing the “right” people to power is enough to make fundamental changes.
 In this regard, I often wonder what would have happened had the “old” Boris been ensconced on the backbenches during the COVID crisis. I find it difficult to believe that he wouldn’t have been crying out for the pubs to be reopened and the silly masks to be tossed away.