Saturday, June 25, 2016

Brexit: Buyer's Remorse (With Updates)

Apart from the folks who may not have known what they were voting to leave, there are others having strong regrets.  Two and a half million of them instantly signed a petition for a do-over referendum.  Parliament has to discuss it, but the petition as written is a non-starter.  Update Sunday: It's 3 million signatures now and a Labour MP on BBC radio said it was Parliament's responsibility to make the decision.  Also this and other signs of buyer's remorse--from Brexit supporters.  A Reuters piece went so far to say: "To leave, or not to leave: that is the question. Still. After Britain's historic vote to leave the European Union, there is no indication that a so-called Brexit will happen soon. It maybe never will.
Prime Minister David Cameron, who is resigning, has said he will not take the formal step to an EU divorce on the grounds that his successor should. Because the referendum is not legally-binding, some politicians are suggesting a parliament vote before formally triggering Brexit." 

The Wall Street Journal reports that European leaders are changing their tune about demanding a swift process, and some "suggest giving Britian a chance to reconsider its decision."

 Leadership struggles in the Conservative and Labour parties intensified, as in the words of the Washington Post: "The turmoil here underscored the degree to which the decision to break with Europe — an action seen widely here as the most significant event in the postwar history of Britain — has left the country politically divided, deeply unsettled and in uncharted territory on multiple fronts. "

As for general lessons applicable to the US, Jonathan Freedland at NYReview of Books writes: "it suggests that even great nations, those whose democratic arrangements were once regarded as a beacon to the world, are capable of acts of grievous, enduring self-harm." 

Meanwhile, a WAPost column suggests why many who didn't sign that petition will live to regret voting for Brexit.  It reflects my own puzzlements over the stated reasons, as this won't help any of them, so we are once again left with the irrational, from understandable if on balance misguided national pride to racism, unfocused rage and despair, to anarchical death wish.

Meanwhile the BBC has a clear summary of the process going forward (with graphics!) as well as a roundup of the fallout, so to speak.

To add another theatre of the absurd layer to all this, Donald Trump was in Scotland as the Brexit vote happened.  He was on a diplomatic mission opening his two golf courses in Scotland.  I give credit to major media for several articles immediately fact checking his "disciplined" speech on Hillary, but this Scotland adventure illustrates why the media can't stay away from Trump---he's just too tempting an inspiration for comic copy, even if it's basically gallows humor.  For example, Jenna Johnson's chronicles in the Washington Post, and Liz Jones in the UK Daily Mail.

Among the people Trump managed to insult were GW's Treasury Secretary Paulson (who endorsed Hillary in a WAPost takedown) and Trump's own foreign policy advisers--"most of them are no good."   In the past several days Trump lost foreign policy advisers for George Bush I and II, columnist George Will, who resigned totally from the Republican Party (all of whom are voting for Hillary) and reportedly "many experienced GOP strategists."

Two new polls--Reuters and Washington Post/ABC--show Clinton with a double digit lead over Trump, whose negatives remain at oceanic depths.  In the Post poll, Clinton  is just above the 50% threshold, an important indicator.  Two-thirds of respondents don't believe Trump is qualified.  Clinton has solidified support among Dems (including Bernie's) but Trump hasn't among GOPers.  However, an NBC poll also out Sunday gives Hillary a much more modest lead, and a CBS polls shows some swing states are close, although Trump isn't ahead in any of them.  President Obama's approval rating has gone higher, to 56%. These and other polls analyzed here.

Back to Brexit, the images above and below were two submitted in response to a call for expressing responses to it in five words or an image.  The one below may take a moment to suss out (as the Brits say--it's about the consequences of leaving) but it's the most trenchant.

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