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And the Brexiteers on the Street aren't wrong: there is nothing stopping the UK leaving straight away, except the prospect of losing a significant part of the UK economy, and a large part of government revenues. The underlying assumption appears to be that the EU can be brought to heel only by the threat of the nuclear option of a no deal Brexit and that the EU would then cave to UK demands because, well, Jonny Foreigner has no balls.

There is even, perhaps, even an atavistic nostalgia for the Battle of Britain days when Britain opposed the world and ultimately won out. Some may relish the conflict as a relief from the grey bureaucratic maze woven by Brussels.

And there is some truth in this. Britain is more important to Europe than Norway. The UK economy is bigger, London based financial services are a key part of the EU economic infrastructure, and UK military forces have been a key part of NATO and an important part of the sense of security currently enjoyed by eastern European states.

But if it does become a major political stag fight, moderate, pragmatic, short-term focused business interests will lose out to the siren voices of political nationalism and the very survival of the EU itself. Any short-term economic damage will be treated as collateral damage in a larger struggle - by both sides.

Obviously the EU as a whole could weather the storm better than the UK, and it helps that there is currently a strong economic up turn which might have to be moderated to avoid an overheating of the economy in any case. A hard no-deal Brexit could then, from a conservative EU economic perspective, be little more than an alternative to a sharp upward turn in interest rates.

Ireland and the Benelux countries together with the German car industry will scream disaster, but Governments need not panic if other sectors continue to prosper and even benefit from the transfer of UK financial services and Aerospace activities.

It could take a very long time before very real economic damage trumps national pride and brings more moderate voices to the top of the political heap again. The people who will suffer most are also those who are least important politically. Already wealthy financial services executives can always transfer overseas. They already do.

So I see a pro-longed clusterf*ck of gradually deepening economic damage in the UK and UK facing parts of the Irish economy. Northern Ireland will go into melt-down when public services and agricultural subsidies are de-funded. Many will have to leave to get a job elsewhere. Smuggling across the border will become a major industry rewarding all the worst elements in society.

This will not end well, if the Brexiteers in the street get their way, and there is still every chance that they ultimately will. And I don't think that a Corbyn led government will necessarily chart an altogether different course, if for other reasons. And for the most part, there is little that the EU can do about it. This is a very English coup.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jan 22nd, 2018 at 01:51:36 PM EST
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