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"I'm alright." — Jack.
A guide to
U.K. Politics
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God Save the Queen?
How foul this referendum is. The most depressing, divisive, duplicitous political event of my lifetime. May there never be another.
—Robert Harris, throwing some sense into the situation[1]
The context of the referendum meant that it was always going to be a choice of evils: between the racism and bigotry that animated so much of the Leave campaign, and the neoliberalism of both the Cameron government and the EU. The option of a social democratic, or even soft neoliberal, EU was not on the ballot.
—John Quiggin, economist[2]

Brexit (A portmanteau of British Exit) is a mass movement within the UK which successfully campaigned for — and then won — a national referendum to leave the EU. The referendum was held in June 2016.

While both sides have at least some valid reasoning, the eurosceptic side (with the help of the mostly right-wing UK tabloids such as the Daily Mail) has essentially amounted to a mass hysteria over a mostly-harmless bureaucratic body. Leaving the EU is unlikely to solve problems such as improving the economy, and the UK only contributes about 0.5% of its GDP to the EU per year.[3] Rather, the exit will most likely set Britain further back in having to renegotiate perfectly functional agreements from scratch.

The main politicians sponsoring the Leave campaign were (then-Lord Chancellor) Michael Gove and Boris Johnson (whose hair and politics approach Trump's with each passing day). Other prominent leavers were Ukip's Nigel Farage, the Conservative Party's handsome young Zac Goldsmith and grey old Iain Duncan Smith, and a couple of Labourites like Kate Hoey. Camera-whore George Galloway also got in on the action, of course.

Turkeys voting for Christmas

Brexit has come to be seen as a mass rejection of "globalism" by those who were left behind. By questioning the authority of the experts[4] and promising a £350m figure,[5] Leave managed to co-opt the strongest Remain argument, while Remain failed to adequately respond, other than to whine about the tactic. The old saying, "If you're explaining, you're losing" springs to mind.

Plenty of suckers "protest" voters immediately regretted their decision once the champions of "Leave" admitted their numbers were as fake as fact-checkers had said they were.[6]

Migrant scroungers

See the main article on this topic: Britain is full

The argument that staying in the EU would cause migrant-related issues in the UK, like most eurosceptic arguments, initially appears solid, but falls apart on closer inspection.

Many eurosceptics make claims about how leaving the EU is the only way to control the UK's borders from the oncoming horde of (mostly Muslim) migrants sure to wash over us if we stay in the EU. This ignores the fact that many economists[7] believe that Europe is in need of more migrants, rather than fewer. This is in addition to the moral issue of leaving tens to hundreds of thousands of refugees in camps. The anti-migrant hysteria often also seems to emphasize that the migrants are largely Arab Muslims, perhaps trying to attach itself to the Islamophobic and racist elements of British society, or perhaps merely trying to create a dichotomy with which they sell how different and therefore untrustworthy the migrants are.

However, even this ignores that the anti-migrant political opinion has won. The UK is only admitting a tiny fraction[8] of the migrants who are seeking asylum in Europe. The 'take back control of our borders' argument is a false argument being used to justify a false argument.

The fear of Europeans having a say in how the UK is governed may also have some roots in europhobia. The argument which is often made against EU membership is that free movement within the EU leads to workers from other countries coming to the UK and displacing workers already employed in Britain. This stems from a naive interpretation of economics - there is a fixed number of jobs no matter what happens to the economy, irrespective of whether an immigrant arrives or not. These concerns, however, are generally unfounded,[9] perhaps from new immigrants also needing services which help to grow the economy rather than only taking jobs. One blog, looking at data up to December 2015, has produced an infographic detailing migrant skills, and their wider impact on the UK economy and welfare.[10] In addition, eurosceptics often also leave out the 1.2 million[11] British people who have employment within the EU, whose economic contributions to Britain might be less if they were more restricted on where they could take a job.

The UK also has an aging population and a weak birth rate.[12] Savagely clamping down on immigration leads to the trap which currently has Japan in its jaws. More to the point, immigrants pay the taxes and work in the services that support the large retired community. Perhaps inevitably, it is older people from areas with very little immigration who are most opposed to it. The predictable consequence of those voters getting what they want is that these services will have to be cut or privatized—which tells you how much of it is xenophobic versus rational concern over stressed services.[13][14] Meanwhile in London, where immigration actually does stress services (like school provision), most people are in favour of immigration.[15]

Take Back Control

Do I think that British Agriculture could survive outside the EU? Yes, of course I do. After all, this is the country that produced Jethro Tull, the NORFOLK four course rotation, James Watt, Henry Ferguson and of course Guy Smith!
—This non sequitur is brought to you by Campaign For an Independent Britain

One point that the eurosceptics frequently make is that British 'sovereignty' would start being 'reclaimed' if we just left the EU first. Eurosceptics talk about how EU courts override British courts despite the fact that you can't have an international court if a local court can overrule it, and that's kind of the point. The UK has already been granted exceptions to EU rules in many categories like participation in Schengen Area and the Eurozone. While "claiming back our sovereignty" makes for a decent soundbite, it doesn't really mean anything at all.

Another thing the Brexiters conveniently forget is that the countries with free trade agreements with the EU (Norway, Iceland and Switzerland) but no membership have to accept the vast majority of EU regulations — including oft-maligned agricultural rules on the curvature of bananas — in order to gain access to the common market but have no say in them. The same would happen to Britain: either they have to accept European rules or they can forget selling their products across the Channel. Not exactly what sovereignty looks like.


Distribution of voters of different ages over the Leave (red) and Remain (blue) camps. Notice a trend?
We should leave the EU because it would allow us the ability to dump the European Convention on Human RightsWikipedia's W.svg.
—Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6[16] (Emigrating sounds really good all of a sudden!)

The official campaign organisation for Brexit is Vote Leave.[17] Its chief executive is Matthew Elliott, founder of far-right libertarian anti-tax organisation the TaxPayers' Alliance, which calls for the replacement of the National Health Service with an insurance-based system[18] and the abolition of the BBC and opposes all green taxation. Its conveners are Conservative Michael Gove and Labour MP Gisela Stuart, who is coincidentally an immigrant from Germany.[19] Its board includes investment banker Stuart Wheeler, foreign exchange trader Peter Cruddas, Thatcherite MP turned investment banker Michael Forsyth,[20] private health woo-mistress Arabella Arkwright (of chiropractic specialists Core Health & Wellness), and expenses-fiddling Tory MP Bernard Jenkin.[21]

The Brexit campaigners did the same thing that what is now the Eagle Forum did to kill the ERA: gross exaggeration. The EU has relatively few powers, especially based on all of Britain's opt-outs. The ERA was also mostly nominal except on the issue of same-sex marriage by the time it was proposed too. Its opposed majorly exaggerated the powers the thing they were fighting had, and won both times. And both times, the victory was narrow, with Brexit winning with only 51.89% of the vote, and the ERA being just three states short of passing.

As well as the official Leave campaign, anointed by the Electoral Commission, a number of smaller groups are campaigning for Brexit:[22]

International support for Brexit

Although the international community as a whole is opposed to Brexit, there were a few individuals who supported this move:

  • The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. According to counter extremist Shiraz Maher, ISIS has celebrated the weakening of the EU by Brexit. This is ironic considering the anti-Muslim views of many Brexiters.[40]
  • Janusz Korwin-MikkeWikipedia's W.svg: A borderline anarcho-monarchist,[41] this Polish MEP says the EU is run by foreign agents and should be dissolved.[42] Compared to other right-wingers, he's not really hung up on homosexuals and atheists so much as he's "just" of the opinion that if you don't fit in society you should be executed. (Rothbard on steroids.) Even Le Pen considers him too radical to work with and that is saying something.[43] In fairness, he looks really good for 73; it could be due to the fact that be barely eats anything and lives on stupidity.
  • Marine Le Pen, who described Brexit as "the most important moment since the fall of the Berlin Wall" and has been campaigning for France to also leave the EU,[44] maintaining since 2016 that she will hold a referendum on "Frexit" within 6 months if she becomes leader, and says that the Brexit vote has given more impetus to this idea.[45] *shudder*
  • Vladimir Putin — Most in the "Remain" camp were aware that the "Leave" camp was asking them to disregard advice from the Bank of England, the London School of Economics, the Prime Minister, the President of the United States, and just about everybody who isn't a right-wing activist getting funds from the Kremlin (like Marine Le Pen is)[46], or a close friend of Putin (as Donald Trump's advisors are)[47] Now imagine how frustrated they are that so many of their fellow Britons swallowed the bait.[48]
  • Jill Stein, US presidential candidate for the Green Party of the United States of America and likely NaturalNews reader.[49] Also now possibly under investigation for collusion with Russia during the 2016 US election.[50]
  • Donald Trump (aka "Mr. Brexit"), the embodiment of the put-upon working man.[51]
  • Geert Wilders, who (compared to the others above) is pretty clean.[52] At least his one-man faction isn't filled with Vichyists and antisemites. His world-view is based around the coming war with Islam.

Jo Cox assassination

See the Wikipedia article on Murder of Jo Cox.
My name is death to traitors, freedom for Britain.
—Thomas Mair, when asked for his name in court[53]

On 16th June 2016, Labour (and pro-Europe) MP Jo CoxWikipedia's W.svg died while campaigning for the stay campaign. Local police say that she was violently murdered by Thomas Mair, a far-right advocate with links to American neo-nazi groups, because of her pro-Europe position. Mair reportedly shouted "Britain First!" the moment before opening fire.[54][55]. Mair was found guilty of the crime and sentenced to life in prison.[56]

While the right rhetoric of swarms, invasions, floods, unelected eurocrat dictators and terrorists sparking some violence is unsurprising, the reaction of the polls serves to remind us just how emotion-driven people's responses to the issue of Europe are. Following news of the event reaching everyone, Brexit moved from a 3 point lead to around the same.[57]

Bresult: constitution crisis, here we come!

The pound has collapsed to its lowest level in over 30 years, suffering its biggest one-day fall in living memory.
—Joe Rundle, head of trading at ETX Capital[58]
This is simply unprecedented, the pound has fallen off a cliff and the FTSEWikipedia's W.svg is now following suit.
—Dennis de Jong, managing director of[58]

As a result of the vote passing by a margin of 52/48%, the value of the pound nosedived from $1.4672 to $1.2994 - a low not seen since 1985.[59] The FTSEWikipedia's W.svg went into a one-day freefall of more than 8%, not seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Several banks (including Barclays and RBS) took major hits, while shares in the housebuilding sector fell by up to 50% (as in the case of Bovis Homes).[58] UK government bond yields also hit a new record low as investors rushed to safety.[58] Research by prestigious Russell Group universities collaborating with European institutions has been hit. Many UK scientists were asked to step down due to uncertainties over funding.[60]Suprisingly, the SNP actually declined in the backfired snap election in 2017.

Oh, and David Cameron announced he would resign as Prime Minister. After voting to leave the EU on the principle that it gives Britain unelected leaders, conservatives were pleased to give Theresa May the position of Prime Minister despite the total lack of a public vote.

Since Scotland, Northern Ireland, Gibraltar, and London voted Remain by large margins, the UK appears to be headed for a constitutional crisis. Some possible outcomes:

  • Bring on the constitutional crisis, let the chips fall where they may
  • Have a second referendum "Just to check" Nixed
  • Surprise everyone by going for the insanity wolf "hardcore Brexit" option of leaving the EU, the single market, the customs union, and pretty much everything else - an option that no-one voted for and the vast majority of British people don't want[61]

Theresa May seems to have gone for the third option because:

  1. If things go well (ignoring the fact that studies show that each scenario would leave public finances even worse than they are now), then she takes the credit for providing leadership for one of the most important events in the country's history.
  2. When (not if) the country's hit by yet another crippling economic crisis, she can wash her hands of the consequences, saying to the public: "It was your fault for voting for it."

What is not a credible option, although desperate London mayor Sadiq Khan and the even more desperate City of London seems to believe it is, is to somehow have London remaining in the EU and every other part of Britain leave the EU.

One year later - does the UK have any strategy? Why have a strategy when you can blame the public?

May called a snap election while she was up in polls by 20% and while she framed it as "getting a mandate for Brexit negotiations", it was widely believed she only did it to get rid of inner-party rivals while getting a stronger parliamentary majority (in FPTP a 20% lead an easily translate into a landslide in seats). However, May managed to badly fudge the campaign and her party ended up with fewer seats in Westminster[note 1], while the Jeremy Corbyn led Labour Party got its best result in years. Paul Nuttalls' UKIP meanwhile was destroyed in the popular vote and lost its only seat in parliament, while the SNP lost several seats in Scotland. All in all this led to a hung parliament with the Tories just shy of a majority and Labour unable to form even a rickety coalition government, but Corbyn was still widely seen as the main victor of the election. May ultimately formed a coalition with the Democratic Unionist Party, which is just great news given that apart from its views on social issues to the right of the Tories, this party is mostly known for its hardline stance on Northern Ireland, where Brexit as well as a domestic scandal about "cash for ash" already threaten the peace process. Imagine if May would have to do something counter to the interests of the DUP...

This all resulted in a needless delay to the negotiations (which, remember will end with "Britain is to the EU as Brazil is to the EU" unless a deal is reached) and served to muddle the strategy discussions. It is now quite clear that nobody in the UK knows whether May wants a "hard" or a "soft" Brexit, possibly including May herself and many don't even know what the terms mean. It has since leaked out that the UK would like to stay part of the single market but leave the agreement on the free movement of people - which the EU has rejected. Britain would furthermore like to keep unlimited free trade with the EU while not applying EU regulations - which the EU has called impossible. Furthermore, there is disagreement as to the "divorce bill", payments which the UK has to make to the EU due to agreements and unpaid debts. The UK naturally does not want to pay a cent, whereas the EU considers the payment or at least an agreement on payment a precondition for further negotiation. Among the myriad issues that the UK seems to simply not have thought about is also aviation. While many issues can at least temporarily be resolved by defaulting to WTO agreements, there is no fallback level for aviation. As an EU member, the UK is a member of "open skies" which basically creates one single "EU domestic" air market. However, the UK would have to comply with the verdicts of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) if it wants to stay in "open skies". Of course "taking back control" is all about telling the ECJ what's what, but the UK would like to stay in "open skies". If no compromise is reached, planes from the UK cannot fly to the EU starting March 29 2019. Even if an agreement is reached in the last second, it is possible that airlines making their summer season schedules several months in advance would cancel numerous flights to/from the UK. Oops.

Contempt of Parliament

Eventually, May decided on a deal which basically nobody liked. She got the UK Attorney General to give her some advice, maybe hoping her deal made sense. Unfortunately it turned out to be a constitutional nightmare, as literally everyone in Parliament already knew.

The key problem with proposed deal was the "backstop" governing the lack of border controls between Ireland and Northern Ireland and the UK, because at any time another decades long guerilla war could break out between the very friendly people that live in Northern Ireland, and the other very friendly people that live in the Republic of Ireland.

The legal advice was duly published, minus the bit that says "we're screwed" and the bit that says "Ireland is fucked", but this didn't please anyone. Pushing through an unprecedented vote on 4 December 2018, the House of Commons ruled the UK Government was in Contempt of Parliament for refusing to publish the full legal advice it had been given by the Attorney General,[62] And the following day, the advice was published.[63]

As a measure of how fucked things are, note that this is the first time the UK's sitting government has ever been found in contempt of parliament, which is where parliament literally orders those pesky cabinet ministers to do something. Even if it makes them look stupid, and proves everything is fucked.

In a nutshell

Miscellaneous addenda

This article or section could benefit from more vandalism - as could France. Symbol.png
  • Conservative Party - Just a little internal dispute...
  • Anti-intellectualism — "Reads the Sun/Express/Mail" and "supports Brexit" are correlated traits among the voters in this country.
  • Free trade — After a generation of incredibly cheap consumer goods, we're reaching a tipping point where the average voter has no tangible concept of inflation's effects on these things.
  • GibraltarWikipedia's W.svgSpain now wants joint ownership of this peninsula[64] and Gibraltar may secede to unify with Scotland in order to rejoin the EU.[65]
  • London — The UK's capital which now has its own fringe independence movement.[66] This is similar to the Scottish independence referendum of 2014,[67] whereby the city of Manchester found itself 72% in favour of joining Scotland, for some reason.[68]
  • Scottish National Party — Some Scots are now suggesting to leave the UK for real should the Brexit happen in order to apply for EU membership as Scotland.
  • Sinn Féin — A nationalist party in Northern Ireland. Voiced support for a referendum on Northern Ireland joining the Republic of Ireland if the UK left the EU,[69] although that is essentially their aim as a party anyway.
  • George Soros — The billionaire hedge funder who "broke" the Bank of England by betting against the pound has, again, made money from betting against Britain.[70]
  • RationalWiki:Leaving and never coming back

Brexternal links


  • John Oliver on Brexit, and his follow-up after the vote — politicians are toilets, comedians are the small flush. They take the piss, but the crap still remains.


  1. even though the Tories actually increased their share of the popular vote; FPTP is weird


  1. Harris on Twitter
  2. "Reaping the Whirlwind: Tribalism Trumps Neoliberalism", Crooked Timber 6.26.16.
  3. a lot but not a lot, a lot
  4. Mance, Henry, "Britain has had enough of experts, says Gove", FT 6.3.16. According to The Telegraph, this statement is the result of interviewer Faisal Islam interrupting Gove mid-sentence: Menon, Anand, "People may have had enough of experts like me, but we need to find our voices again", The Telegraph, 15.03.17.
  5. "Fact Check: Vote Leave's £350m A Week Claim Wrong", LBC 6.13.16.
  6. CNN - Brexit Broken Promises
  7. maybe actually bankers
  8. 20,000 over the next 5 years. Source:BBC
  9. Immigration and the UK Labour Market Centre for Economic Performance
  10. If it ain’t broke don’t Brexit – Migration Stats Paint by the Numbers Politics
  11. The British in Europe – and Vice Versa Migration Watch UK
  12. Frum, David, "Why Britain Left", The Atlantic 7.24.16.
  13. "Do immigrants pay more in taxes than they claim in benefits and service", FullFact 2.9.16.
  14. "Reality Check: Would Brexit mean cuts to pensions, defence and the NHS?", BBC 6.12.16.
  15. "Why did older voters choose Brexit? It’s a matter of identity", The Conversation (6/25/16 at 2:36pm EDT).
  16. Via Sky News (featured on the official Vote Leave campaign website for a bit). The irony is the ECoHR is not even an EU document - it is condition for joining the Council of EuropeWikipedia's W.svg, which has fuck-all to do with the EU and which none of the Brexiteers has even mentioned, let alone stated an intention of leaving.
  17. See the Wikipedia article on Vote Leave.
  18. We need to find a new way to pay for healthcare, TaxPayers Alliance, January 22, 2015
  19. See the Wikipedia article on Gisela Stuart.
  20. See the Wikipedia article on Michael Forsyth, Baron Forsyth of Drumlean.
  21. See the Wikipedia article on Bernard Jenkin.
  22. [1], BBC, 26 April
  23. "Why Vote Leave beat Grassroots Out". BBC News. Retrieved on 1 July 2016.
  24. Crace, John (19 February 2016). "Grassroots Out unites politicians – the ones we normally try to avoid". the Guardian. 
  25. Bloom, Dan (22 May 2016). "This Brexit group targeted National Front supporters for votes on Facebook". The Mirror. 
  26. Brexit The Movie, Kickstarter
  27. Main page of the official SDP website. Archived 1 July 2016.
    The SDP were a centrist split from the Labour Party during a time of internal infighting over a left-wing leaderWikipedia's W.svg perceived as unelectable by his party, advocating unilateral nuclear disarmament and traditional socialist policies. (Nothing like that would happen now, of course...) Eventually, the SDP and Liberal Party merged to be the Liberal Democrats, but there are continuity SDP and Liberal parties in the UK who rejected that alliance.
  28. "Ignore voices of doom over Brexit, says Lord Owen". BBC News. Retrieved on 1 July 2016.
  29. Better Off Out, TFA website
  30. "Left Leave – Campaign for a UK left exit from the EU". Retrieved on 1 July 2016.
  31. "Labour Leave campaign funded by right-wing Tory donors, including supporters of Taxpayers’ Alliance". Retrieved on 1 July 2016.
  32. "The problem of the Labour Leave campaign makes sense when you find out who's funding it". 2 June 2016. Retrieved on 1 July 2016.
  33. John Cleese (11 June 2016). "Tweet Number 741741834003709953". Twitter. "If I thought there was any chance of major reform in the EU,I'd vote to stay in.But there isn't.Sad.Sorry,Paddy." 
  34. John Cleese appeared in party broadcasts for the SDP/Liberal alliance in 1987, as well as for the Liberal Democrats in 1997, when a certain Antony Blair gained a landslide majority with a majority of 179 seats. Still, ever loyal to his principles, Cleese continued to campaign for the Lib Dems in the 2015 general election, when the party went from 58 to 8 seats. Although, honestly, if you're a Lib Dem and you don't support your party on the EU, what really is the point in staying loyal to your party?
  35. Such as this Facebook post by BNP West London (archived).
  36. "Cameron: David Icke-style conspiracy on EU ref is nonsense." RT UK. (3 March 2016, 7:38.)
  37. Dugdale, John (11 June 2016). "Hilary Mantel's in, David Starkey's out: the literary battle of Brussels". 
  38. Quinn, Ben (13 August 2011). "David Starkey claims 'the whites have become black'". The Guardian. 
  39. Grimston, Jack; Loveys, Kate (24 June 2012). "Starkey erupts in racism rumpus". The Sunday Times. 
  40. "Isis praises Brexit in propaganda newspaper". The Independent. 29 June 2016. Retrieved on 1 July 2016.
  41. Faiola, Anthony, "Europe's New Energizer Bunny of Hate", WaPo 5.27.14.
  42. "'Poland is Dying Under EU Occupation': Warsaw Should Follow British Suit", Sputnik News (5/31/16 at 4:38 pm, updated 4:57 pm).
  43. "Korwin-Mikke too Extreme For Frances's Le Pen", Radio Poland (6/25/14 at 10:02).
  44. "Brexit 'most important moment since Berlin Wall': Le Pen". BBC News. Retrieved on 1 July 2016.
  45. "Marine Le Pen Prepares for a “Frexit”". New Yorker. 29 June 2016. Retrieved on 1 July 2016.
  46. Oliveira, Ivo, "National Front seeks Russian cash for election fight", Politico (2/19/16 at 1:53 PM CET, updated 2/19/16, 1:58 PM CET).
  47. Kharchenko, Aleksandra, "Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s top adviser, and his ties to pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine", Politifact (5/2/16 at 2:17 p.m.).
  48. Vaux, Pierre, "Why Putin is Meddling in Britain's Brexit Vote", Daily Beast (6/07/16 ay 10:00 PM ET).
  49. "Stein calls Britain Vote a Wake-up Call". Retrieved on 1 July 2016. (Hahahah, nice try, Jill. Here is the original version.)
  51. Savanskry, Rebecca, "Trump hits Clinton for attacks after '100% wrong' Brexit prediction", The Hill (6/26/16 at 08:13 am).
  52. Geert Wilders (02 May 2016). "Tweet Number 727080550113132546". Twitter. "I hope the proud British people vote for regaining national sovereignty instead of more Brussels on June 23. #Brexit" 
  57. Brexit poll tracker Financial Times From this to this.
  58. 58.0 58.1 58.2 58.3
  60. He said the situation was “business as usual”
  61. [2]
  64. "Brexit: Spain calls for joint control of Gibraltar". BBC News.
  65. "Brexit: Gibraltar in talks with Scotland to stay in EU". BBC News.
  66. "Let's not stop at Brexit. It's time London declared independence". The Daily Telegraph.
  67. See the Wikipedia article on Scottish independence referendum, 2014.
  68. "There's a campaign to make Manchester part of Scotland". The Independent. 14 May 2015.
  69. McDonald, Henry (11 March 2016). "Sinn Féin calls for vote on Irish reunification if UK backs Brexit". The Guardian.
  70. "George Soros, the billionaire who 'broke' the Bank of England, wins big from Brexit". The Independent. 25 June 2016.