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Why a New Brexit Referendum Would Not be a "Betrayal" of Democracy [updated with response to Ryan Bourne]

If referenda are a legitimate mechanism for making political decisions, then it is also legitimate for them to be overruled by new referenda. Those who live by the referendum sword risk dying by it.

Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal with the European Union has proven so unpopular with both "Leave" and "Remain" supporters that it might well be rejected by Parliament. That has given new life to the "People's Vote" movement, which advocates a new Brexit referendum they hope will reverse the results of the June 2016 vote, in which a narrow 52% majority voted to leave the European Union. A second referendum (like the first) would have to be authorized by Parliament, and its results would not be binding without parliamentary approval (again, like the first). But such a referendum could potentially occur if Parliament rejects the May deal, and there is no parliamentary majority for any other approach to Brexit.

Many Brexit supporters, however, argue that a second referendum would be undemocratic, because it would represent a refusal to accept the results of the first. Prime Minister May has denounced the idea as a "gross betrayal of our democracy." British political commentator Tom Slater offers a more sophisticated version of that argument in an October article in Foreign Policy.

Brexit is a tremendously important issue in itself. And the broader question of when it is justifiable to reverse a referendum result with a new vote has implications that go beyond this specific example. Referenda are used to decide a wide range of policy issues, including many important state government policies right here in the US. If it is wrong to reverse Brexit with a new referendum, perhaps the same theory applies to other policies adopted by referendum, as well. But, in truth, there is no good reason to grant referendum results any special immunity from reversal - especially if that reversal is itself brought about by the same process as the original decision.

There is a longstanding debate on whether referenda should be used to decide important policy issues. Critics argue they should not, because voters often lack the knowledge needed to decide complex questions, or because such issues cannot be boiled down to a "yes or no" referendum question. Ironically, Margaret Thatcher - icon of British Euroskeptics - was one such opponent of referenda, which she denounced as "device[s] for dictators and demagogues." If you take a Thatcherite view of referenda, then Parliament should not only only reverse Brexit, but do so without holding a second referendum. That would set a strong precedent for the principle that referenda should not be used to decide important issues.

In my view, however, it is far from clear referenda really are worse tools for deciding policy issues than ordinary legislation. Voter ignorance is a very serious problem. But whether it is a worse problem with referenda or with ordinary legislation will vary from case to case. Thus, I am not, on principle, opposed to referenda. Whether Brexit was the sort of issue better decided by referendum or by ordinary legislation strikes me as a close case.

But if it was legitimate to use a referendum to decide in favor Brexit, it is also legitimate to use the same process to reverse it. Indeed, one of the basic principles of legislation is that the same entity that enacted a law also has the power to modify or reverse it. US states with referendum processes regularly hold new referenda on initiatives intended to reverse or modify earlier ones. There is no reason to exempt Brexit from similar potential reversal. Indeed, the 2016 Brexit referendum was itself a reversal of the decision made by the 1975 UK referendum on joining the European Communities (which later became the European Union). If the 2016 Brexit referendum can reverse the result of the 1975 EC referendum, then it in turn can be reversed by yet another referendum. That's how legislation works.

Slater argues that reversing Brexit would be improper because it hasn't been fully implemented yet (Britain is not scheduled to depart the EU until March 29, 2019). But there is no reason why the body that made a legislative decision cannot reverse it prior to implementation. For example, congressional Republicans repeatedly tried to repeal Obamacare, including many times before key parts of it were ever implemented. That may or may not have been a good idea. But no one seriously objected on the grounds that pre-implementation reversal would somehow be an affront to democracy.

Pre-implementation reversal may actually be especially appropriate in cases where new evidence indicates that going ahead with the previous decision is likely to be more costly and dangerous than anticipated. The problems associated with the May deal raise that very prospect: the UK may not be able to leave the EU without either undergoing a dangerous "hard Brexit" (with no agreement on free trade and investment) or having to accept continued subjection to a variety of EU regulations, without having any say in their formulation (as per the May deal).

In Slater's view, a second Brexit vote would also be undemocratic because its main advocates are "elites" whose real goal is to reverse Brexit by any available means, not promote democracy for its own sake. He may well be right about these elites' motives. But so what? The vast majority of referendum initiatives are promoted by people whose main goal is to prevail on a particular policy issue. In most cases, they would be more than happy to achieve the same result by ordinary legislation, a judicial decision, or any other legally permissible means. That was in large part, true of the Brexit referendum itself, which was promoted by "Leave" enthusiasts because they want Britain out of the European Union (and, in some cases, by some Remainers who hoped that a referendum would put an end to "leave" agitation within the Conservative Party). Hard-core Brexiteers would have been happy to see Brexit enacted by Parliament, without a referendum. And had they lost in 2016, they would likely have been happy to see that decision reversed by a future referendum.

Finally, Slater and some other Brexit advocates argue that a new vote would be unfair to those who voted for Leave in the first referendum because it would "demoralize" them. That may be true. But, again, so what? The same can be said for any reversal of a policy decision much valued by its supporters. Many Remainers were deeply angered, perhaps even "demoralized," by the 2016 referendum's reversal of the 1975 vote to join the EC. Those who live by the sword of the referendum must risk dying by it, as well.

I don't deny that I myself would be happy to see Brexit reversed by a second referendum. I was opposed to Brexit in 2016, and developments since then have mostly reinforced that view. The issue is one that has divided my fellow libertarians on both sides of the Atlantic. But I tend to agree with those like Jacob Levy, and Johan Norberg, who argue that Brexit will result in more statism, not more liberty and more free market policies. It is increasingly clear that a post-Brexit Britain is likely to be less libertarian than the alternative, not more so. Sam Bowman, former executive director of the Adam Smith Institute, offers a thoughtful libertarian case for a second referendum, which I largely agree with.

Be that as it may, you don't have to agree with me about the merits of Brexit, to recognize that there is nothing undemocratic in using one referendum to reverse the results of another. And that's true regardless of how soon the second vote comes after the first, regardless of whether it is promoted by "elites" who objected to the initial decision, and regardless of whether supporters of the earlier vote might be "demoralized" by reopening the question.

UPDATE: Ryan Bourne of the Cato Institute offers a thoughtful response to this post here:

A second referendum so soon would violate the U.K.'s convention of having one-off constitutional referendums, the results of which are respected for a generation. The U.K. has had major referendums in the past on remaining within the European Economic Community (1975), changing the general election voting system (2011), deciding whether Northern Ireland should join the Republic of Ireland (1973), and Scottish Independence (2014). The results of all these constitutional decisions have been implemented without discussion of the need to check again whether people really meant to vote as they did. In the case of the EU, the gap between the EEC vote and 2016 was 41 years.

I don't think a handful of cases like this is enough to create a legally or morally binding "convention." Moreover, Brexit differs from all of these examples, in that new evidence has quickly emerged suggesting that the initial referendum decision was based on flawed assumptions: in this case, that the UK could secure the benefits of free trade and investment flows with the EU without also having to accept various EU rules. The negotiations leading to the May deal strongly suggest that is not the case. Even if a "convention" of the sort Bourne points to do does exist and does apply to the unusual situation created by Brexit, failing to follow it would still not be a "betrayal" of democracy, though perhaps it might be objectionable on other grounds. If the 2016 referendum result is overturned by a new referendum, it will simply be a case of a democratic decision being overturned by another decision of exactly the same kind. Doing so relatively quickly may be undesirable (though it might also be wise to overturn a flawed decision before it has had a chance to cause much harm). But it is not undemocratic.

Bourne also argues that libertarian critics of Brexit are wrong to oppose it on the grounds that it will undermine free migration, free trade, and economic liberty, because Brexit is jsut a constitutional decision on the allocation of power and does not mandate any particular policies on these issues, and a post-Brexit UK Britain will be "as pro- or anti-liberty as its people and politicians decide." That is true. But, for reasons explained in the posts by Johan Norberg, Jacob Levy, and Sam Bowman linked above, a post-Brexit UK is in fact likely to be less free than one that remains in the European Union. Constitutional decisions about the allocation of power should be made with an eye to how that power is likely to be used by its new holders. If they are likely to cause more harm than good, that's a good reason to deny it to them.

In the last part of his post, Bourne (like some other defenders of Brexit) analogizes Britain's vote to leave the EU to the American Revolution. The analogy actually cuts in the other direction. The American Revolution was arguably justified because it made America a freer society than it would have been under the continued rule of the British Empire. The revolutionaries famously defended their actions on the grounds that Britain was violating their rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," not on the theory that an ethnically or territorially defined group had a right secede for any reason they wanted. Had the revolutionaries sought to create a less free society than what existed under British rule, that would have been a good reason to oppose their actions. If libertarian critics of Brexit are correct, that is precisely what will happen if the UK continues on its current course.

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  • DjDiverDan||

    You are right that holding a new referendum would not be a betrayal of democracy. That betrayal already occurred whenTeresa May negotiated an exit agreement that she knew or should have known was unacceptable. Whether or not the UK exits the EU will ultimately be irrelevant. The EU can't work - or, at the very least, the unified currency and unified economic regulation portions of the EU can't work. One should have seen the handwriting on the wall with the first Greece debacle. Italy and Portugal are almost certain to follow, and Greece is more likely than not to fail once again, since it still refuses to rationalize its labor regulations and taxation and spending schemes. Trying to maintain a unified currency with 28 states maintaining 28 separate and very different fiscal policies, 28 separate and very different regulatory schemes, and 28 separate and very different taxing schemes is impossible. The EU might have worked well if they had limited its aspirations to a free-trade and free-transit zone (like the 50 United States), but politicians are always the last to recognize the limits of their own competence.

  • Martinned||

    The EU can't work - or, at the very least, the unified currency and unified economic regulation portions of the EU can't work.

    I guess the last couple of decades of both working quite well have simply been a figment of our collective imaginations...

    Greece is more likely than not to fail once again, since it still refuses to rationalize its labor regulations and taxation and spending schemes.

    Leaving aside the reliability of the prediction, that sounds suspiciously like evidence of Greece failing, not the EU failing.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    You can rip the wings off a plane, and it still takes some time to reach the ground.

    The question isn't whether Greece is failing. It's whether Greece would have failed if it hadn't joined the EU.

  • DjDiverDan||

    In fairness, Greece almost certainly would have failed even faster if it had not joined the EU. It's membership in the EU allowed it to continue financing its idiocy by selling Euro-denominated bonds which did not have the same risk that Drachma denominated bonds would have had - a complete collapse of the currency. So joining the EU and going with the Euro allowed Greece to export to other Euro states at leadt a portion of its own risk of fiscal collapse. But the faster failure of Greece outside of the Euro would have been a good thing, as it would have accelerated the need for Greece to reform its fiscal and regulatory mess.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    My opinion, Greece would have failed much sooner without having the EU to prop them up.

    Without being a member of the EU, other countries/banks would have balked at lending them more money much sooner.

    And while if they hadn't been an EU member, they could have potentially resorted printing money to get out of debt, history shows that such a course of action has been disastrous for every country that has tried it, it leads to hyperinflation and economic collapse.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    My opinion, Greece would have failed much sooner without having the EU to prop them up.

    Without being a member of the EU, other countries/banks would have balked at lending them more money much sooner.

    And while if they hadn't been an EU member, they could have potentially resorted printing money to get out of debt, history shows that such a course of action has been disastrous for every country that has tried it, it leads to hyperinflation and economic collapse.

  • Social Justice is neither||

    The real question is how much of the EU will Greece and their like-minded cohort of EU citizens will be taken down with them.

  • Michael Masinter||

    To borrow a phrase from Abba Eban, Labor never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Had Labor genuinely opposed and continued to oppose Brexit (the triumph of England, besotted by memories of empire, over the UK), Labor could force early elections as the price for a no vote by hardline Brexiteers. But Jeremy Corbyn , no remainer at heart, is more interested in the future of Palestine than the UK. So even if there were early elections, the contest would be between two Brexiteering parties, each paralyzed by a previous referendum vote that offered voters a choice between continued membership in the EU and -- whatever alternative each voter could dream up to replace it unburdened by any consideration of reality. Rather than offer voters a real choice, both parties argue over who can better manage Brexit.

    Both the UK and the US are trapped by their respective constitutional systems, even if only one is written. And thus the west recedes into the mists of history.

  • JoeBlow123||

    Unfortunate but true.

  • RoyMo||

    The history of European referendums on Europe should be a part of this story, and holding repeated referenda until you get the answer you like and never holding another has its own issues. If the UK government had followed the first referendum this wouldn't be an issue, repeating it just encourages remain forces to keep running the clock out.

    Another issue is that European intransigence on the matter has shown the British public further evidence that Continental Europeans care little for them, so I would not bet on the anti-Brexit side.

  • RoyMo||

    I would like to add that I am opposed to Brexit, but not being a British citizen, for which I am very thankful, or a European, I have no say in the matter. Libertarians in particular should note that one of the most common objections to the EU one hears is how awful it is that the UK should be subject to the European Convention on Human Rights, and that most of the cases where the court has ruled against the UK have been about pretty basic civil rights, and the sorts of violations that would appall many non libertarian Americans.

  • Martinned||

    holding repeated referenda until you get the answer you like

    When, pray tell, did that happen? Surely you're not referring to the situation in Ireland, where the rejection of a treaty amendment in a referendum led to renegotiation and a renewed referendum about an updated treaty?

    shown the British public further evidence that Continental Europeans care little for them

    The very first thing Donald Tusk said after the referendum was how sad he was to see the British go, and how important it was to respect the referendum result. In the 2.5 years that followed, the British have mostly been arguing with themselves and have given very little indication that they even noticed that the rest of Europe existed, much less that they gave a d*mn what the rest of Europe thought about anything.

  • Bob from Ohio||

    How about Denmark on the Maastricht Treaty?

  • Martinned||

    They got a whole pile of opt-outs to address their concerns, and then they voted again.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Indeed, that's the problem: Not a matter of a latter referendum overriding earlier ones. The problem is just repeating the vote until the people vote the "right" way, and then stopping.

    The 2nd referendum should be about whether to rejoin the EU, because the first referendum should have been implemented by now.

  • OldCurmudgeon||

    olding repeated referenda until you get the answer you like and never holding another has its own issues.

    Coupled with the fact that the 'wrong' side in these melodramas is typically much poorer, and thus, is predictably unable to effectively oppose the rematch.

  • Martinned||

  • Lee Moore||

    Nonsense. Your link is to some interim figures two months before the referendum.

    According to the official Electoral Commision ffigures, Remain outspent Leave by £19.3 million to £13.3 million, or about 3 to 2.

    Those figures exclude government spending of about £9 million on a pro Remain leaflet :

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-
    eu-referendum-35980571

    So that made it about a 2-1 spending advantage for Remain.

  • Lee Moore||

    There's obviously nothing undemocratic about reversing a decision made by referendum, with another decision made by referendum. Unless, of course, you implement only one of the two. The democratic way of giving effect to two referenda is to implement both decisions. But if you ignore the Brexit vote and then adopt the stay in vote (if that's how the second vote goes) then you're privileging the stay in answer. This is particularly so when the original promise for the first referendum was to respect the result, and when roughly 90% of UK congresscritturs were elected in 2017 on a written promise to deliver Brexit.

    Why stop at two ? Why not best of three ? Best of five ? Or logically, but perhaps not very democratically, ignore both votes equally. Stay in when the vote is to leave, and then if the voters change their mind and vote to stay, then leave.

    The fair, reasonable and democratic thing to do is to implement the Brexit referendum decision, and then let the people have another vote on whether to rejoin, in forty years time. Which was the gap that leavers had to wait for their second try.

  • M.L.||

    Well said. But of course those in charge will just want to keep redoing it, and rejiggering it along the way, until they get the answer they want.

  • jph12||

    See also, professional sports stadiums.

  • Sarcastr0||

    By this logic, you cannot repeal laws with a later law.

    Privileging the vote that is most recent in time is not antidemocratic.

  • Jerryskids||

    When Trump was elected, Obama should have just stayed in office until the voters regained their senses and elected Hillary in 2020. There's nothing undemocratic about holding a vote and then refusing to abide by the results of that vote.

  • Sarcastr0||

    The difference being that there is a date certain for the transfer of power and a single associated election as directed by our Constitution.

    This is not the case with Brexit.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    You're right that the referendum should have had a hard and fast deadline for the withdrawal. Omitting that was a mistake.

    The mistake was assuming that the government would actually abide by the referendum. Stupid, that.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Britain is tying itself in knots trying to abide by the referendum. And polls indicate the opinion of the British people is changing based on what they are seeing.

    Democracy - especially parliamentary democracy - does not mean no backsies.

    If you detect bad faith, that's fine, but the arbiter of such things is the British people at the ballot box. And they don't seem to agree with you.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    "Britain is tying itself in knots trying to abide by the referendum. "

    The British government is attempting to make abiding by the referendum so painful that the British people will admit they made a mistake, and throw in the towel. Yes, I detect bad faith.

    But, yeah, it's up to the British people to deal with that, not me.

  • Sarcastr0||

    You have zero evidence of this bad faith, other than that you wish to believe Brexit will be fun and easy.

  • Martinned||

    There's obviously nothing undemocratic about reversing a decision made by referendum, with another decision made by referendum. Unless, of course, you implement only one of the two.

    Lex posterior derogat legi priori, they taught me in the first year of law school.

  • Lee Moore||

    Indeed, the 2016 Brexit referendum was itself a reversal of the decision made by the 1975 UK referendum on joining the European Communities (which later became the European Union).

    No. The UK joined in 1973 without a referendum. The 1975 referendum was about whether to stay in or not. A forty year wait for a second referendum seems perfectly fair to me. Let those Brits who want to be in the EU have another referendum in 2055.

    You're also missing some important history. The EEC of 1973 and the EU of 2015 are totally different beasts. There were several treaties greatly expanding the powers of the EU over the forty years fro 1975 to 2015 and there were no UK referenda on any of these changes. Though there were a few referenda in other countries in which the people produced the wrong answer (France, Ireland, Netherlands.) The EU told them to keep voting till they got the answer right. We've seen the second referendum movie before. There's only ever a second referendum when the people give the answer the EU doesn't like. But as far as the UK is concerned, one of the major puffers of a second referendum is Tony Blair. Who, before an election, when he was Prime Minister, promised a referendum on the proposed new EU constitution. And then after he was re-elected, decided not to have a referendum after all.

  • M.L.||

    The perennial Ilya Somin blog post, "Why Everything Always Supports My Globalist Ideology" often gets most of the key facts and reasoning wrong.

  • Martinned||

    Though there were a few referenda in other countries in which the people produced the wrong answer (France, Ireland, Netherlands.) The EU told them to keep voting till they got the answer right.

    Really? There was a 2nd vote in France or the Netherlands? Must have missed that one. I guess I'll look that one up in my copy of the fully implemented Constitutional Treaty that we now all live under. [/sarcasm]

  • gormadoc||

    He's right, though. The EU did tell them to keep voting. They just said no.

  • Martinned||

    Why do you speak of the EU as if it is somehow a disembodied entity distinct from the Member States or its citizens?

  • Krayt||

    New levels of government are pushed by the potential new politicians, and those at all levels push to expand their power. You see this in the US federal govenment over two centuries, still hasn't stopped. You see this in various separatist movements in Europe.

    Regardless of any merits, the actual politicians do act like their own entity trying to increase their power.

  • Lee Moore||

    You're quite right. They didn't have a second referendum in France or the Netherlands. They simply changed the title on the document and then went ahead anyway, without any second referendum.

  • Lee Moore||

    Pre-implementation reversal may actually be especially appropriate in cases where new evidence indicates that going ahead with the previous decision is likely to be more costly and dangerous than anticipated.

    There is no such new evidence. All the current scare stories are the same as the ones that were peddled by the Remain crowd during the referendum. There's nothing new. All that has happened is that the UK government (of remainers) has been dragging its feet as much as possible and has now deliberately negotiatiated a "deal" that is so bad, that they hope that people will think that staying in is better.

    Which given that the "deal" is essentially

    - stay subject to all the rules and regulations
    - but lose your vote on what they are
    - exchange the right to leave at two years notice for an obligation to stay until the EU gives you permission
    - and send the EU a check for $50 billion for the privilege

    is quite a plausible hope.

  • M.L.||

    From what I can tell there is new evidence which indicates that Brexit will be a lot less costly and dangerous, and a lot more prosperous, than the sky-is-falling forecasts previously suggested.

  • Martinned||

    Care to direct us to some of that evidence? Because the only evidence I've seen shows that Brexit has already cost the UK 2.5% of GDP (= about £1,000 per person each year), while the Bank of England's most recent forecasts ranged from bad to disastrous depending on the Brexit scenario under consideration.

  • Purple Martin||

    Several parallels between the Brexit and Trump elections have been observed. One is that a substantial part of the 'for' votes were from people who assumed neither Brexit nor Trump could win, but just wanted to 'send a message' conveying their general dissatisfaction with the powers that be.

    At least the US opportunity to give those voters a second chance will occur reasonably soon, and is reasonably certain.

  • Lee Moore||

    Sure. Many, probably most, people thought Trump was unfit to be president. Some thought he was a Russian agent, and some still do. Many in his own party thought, and still think, he's an appalling, ignorant boor. And although he won under the rules as written, he only just snuck home, with fewer votes than Clinton. Moreover his policies on trade and immigration were highly unpopular with most educated folk. There are many reasons for many voters to regret the result of the 2016 election.

    All of whch are excellent reasons for agreeing that the people should have a vote on chucking him out in 2020. But very poor reasons for concluding that he should not be allowed to take office until reconfirmed in a new vote, and in the meantime Obama shoud continue in office to maintain the status quo until we check whether the voters wish to stand by their 2016 decision. Unless you prefer banana republics, of course.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    The national popular vote is legally/constitutionally meaningless. In the end, there are only 535 votes that count and Trump had a majority of those.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Further, "right" parties had an absolute majority of the vote in that election, relative to "left" parties. The only reason Hillary pulled off a popular vote plurality is that the anti-Hillary vote was divided. In part this was a deliberate strategy to defeat Trump, which just happened to fail.

  • LiborCon||

    Voters are too dumb to make important decisions, so they elect politicians who are too dumb to make important decisions.

  • Rossami||

    "Fair" is not the right measure. A re-referendum on Brexit is impractical because it is so soon. While there is no bright-line limit for how soon a law or referendum could be overturned, take that argument to it's natural conclusion - anyone opposing referendum A can immediately launch a new referendum - and when that fails, do it again - and again - and again. It becomes a way to paralyze the process even if the original referendum was (and remains) popular. It becomes a slightly politer and slower version of the heckler's veto.

    I would withdraw that objection if the people pushing the referendum had to pay for everyone's costs if/when they lose or if there were some other disincentive for abuse.

  • Purple Martin||

    Well, that's pretty much what Douglas Bruce with the original Colorado TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) constitutional amendment. I believe it was on the 9th try that it finally passed (to be fair, he did keep amending his amendment to try to address issues raised--you should have seen the first version!)

  • Eddy||

    "there is no good reason to grant referendum results any special immunity from reversal"

    But a pro-Remainer vote *will* be privileged from reversal - no third vote will be allowed.

    If you're going to make the comparison with referenda and initiatives in the US, a sufficient number of signatures can put a given proposition on the ballot, and there will be a vote. So with enough signatures, any prior referendum can be revisited in any election cycle.

    To put it mildly, there's no assurance that any pro-EU vote will similarly be subject to being revisited.

  • Eddy||

    Message from politicians to voters: "You can't pull out, so you may as well continue to get *&^�."

  • Martinned||

    But a pro-Remainer vote *will* be privileged from reversal - no third vote will be allowed.

    Why on earth would you believe that? The whole reason why no one in the EU27 is particularly keen on a withdrawal of the notification is that if Britain doesn't leave, this will be a discussion that never ends. Both of the major parties are currently run by Brexiteers, and in any given future General Election you could easily get a large pro-Leave majority. (In case of a 2nd referendum, there's simply no way of forecasting what would happen.)

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Both of the major parties are currently run by Brexiteers

    How'd that happen?

  • Lee Moore||

    It didn't. He's making it up as usual.

    Both May and Corbyn have said that they voted Remain, and Corbyn has said that if there was a second referendum he'd vote Remain again. And the wider leadership of both major parties is made up of Remainers.

    The UK Cabinet balance is shown here :

    https://www.verdict.co.uk/cabinet-reshuffle
    -2018-balance-tips-towards-remain/

    at 20 Remainers and 8 Leavers in July. It will presumably have gone more pro Remain since the recent resignations of pro-Leavers Raab and McVey.

    Both party leaders (and their parties) did firmly promise at the last election (post Leave winning the referendum) to respect the vote to Leave and to deliver it. The question is now whether their preference to Remain or their promise to Leave is going to win out.

  • AmosArch||

    Sabotage a referendum result to get a do over until you get the result you want. Sounds fair. I'm sure libs would love it if we played these games with them.

  • Sarcastr0||

    If the British People think your scenario is the correct one, they have a ballot box.

    But it doesn't look like they agree with you.

  • Martinned||

    Euh, dude, you do play these games with them.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Sabotage a referendum result to get a do over until you get the result you want.

    Sabotage by whom? The conservatives trying to arrange a withdrawal that would not cripple the country? The counterparties that seem disinclined, and are not obligated, to engage in concessions that would vindicate some Brits' hopes for a painless split? The opposition party, which seems to lack practical authority and moral responsibility in this context?

  • The Iconoclast||

    If remainers had won the first go around and now brexiters were asking for another referendum, what would the conversation be?

  • AmosArch||

    "Why a New Brexit Referendum Would be a Betrayal of Democracy" By Ilya Somin

  • Martinned||

    Funny you should ask.

    Nigel Farage: Narrow Remain win may lead to second referendum

    There could be unstoppable demand for a re-run of the EU referendum if Remain wins by a narrow margin on 23 June, UKIP leader Nigel Farage has said.
    (...)
    The question of a second referendum was raised by Mr Farage in an interview with the Mirror in which he said: "In a 52-48 referendum this would be unfinished business by a long way. If the Remain campaign win two-thirds to one-third that ends it."

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    I doubt the questioners were seeking or are interested in your reality-based response, Martinned.

  • dwshelf||

    Local government is generally more libertarian than regional government, because it's easier to make big changes.

    Not always are such plans libertarian, but when mistakes are made, it's easier to fix them.

    Clearly, the EU is a mistake, unless, like Somin, your #1 issue in politics is unrestricted migration of indigents to successful countries.

  • AmosArch||

    Thats what gets me about the 'anarcho' branch of leftists. They whine all the time about the little guy and the loss of autonomy and how one vote is increasingly meaningless but will constantly push people and policies that centralize and push government power topward.

  • Sarcastr0||

    A fine argument, except that unrestrained markets haven't proven the best for the little man either, and you folks invoke the little guy at least as much.

  • gormadoc||

    Where are these unrestrained markets?

    I would also like to know where your evidence for "haven't proven the best for the little man" is, as 1) there aren't unrestrained markets, and 2) things have been pretty damn good for almost everyone and improving almost everywhere.

  • Bob from Ohio||

    After 120+ years of laws and regulations, anyone saying markets are "unrestrained" in the US or Europe is just gaslighting people.

  • Sarcastr0||

    The right isn't arguing for the status quo, though, are they?

    From monopolies to pollution to stock trading to health care to all sorts of things, markets are not inherently congruent to freedom.

  • Krayt||

    ===A fine argument, except that unrestrained markets haven't proven the best for the little man either, and you folks invoke the little guy at least as much.===

    There's good reason to think in the context of economic freedom, the mre the merrier.

    http://juliansimon.com/writings/Ultimate_Resource/

  • Sarcastr0||

  • Sarcastr0||

    This comment is a journey.

    It starts with a political proposition Prof. Somin often makes, admitting that it's only a generalization.

    Then, it suddenly veers into 'clearly, the EU is a mistake,' strawmans anyone who disagrees.

    Finally, it veers again into ignorant nativism, conflating immigrants with indigents.

  • Martinned||

    Local government is generally more libertarian than regional government, because it's easier to make big changes.

    Huh? It really isn't. The obvious reason being that local government is also easier to capture by business interests and less scrutinised by the press. So you end up with lots of business-friendly regulation and other crony capitalism.

  • gormadoc||

    "likely to be less libertarian than the alternative"

    I don't really see how the imposition of tariffs by the EU is Britain's fault; Britain has been pretty consistent on wanting to find a trade deal: German and French federalists have blocked it every time. If Britain is unable to negotiate deals with the rest of the world (which is unlikely, as the deal with Canada is progressing nicely and the US has already shown interest) then they share some blame, but that's preemptive as hell. Was the Revolution "less libertarian" than the alternative because Britain blockaded our ports and then imposed high tariffs after peace?

    The article you link to is also pretty bad on the "movement of free peoples" front. Britain has been trying to make deals with Spain and Ireland over their borders but the EU at large continues to try to tie it to Brexit rather than allow it to be negotiated as a separate topic, even as the individual countries want to address it. The administration has also made efforts to accommodate foreign workers under the EU agreements but the EU wants to keep it as part of the common market only. Stated otherwise, the EU is clamping down on the sovereignty of individual nations to disallow their citizens unimpeded travel in response to the slight of Britain leaving. How libertarian!

  • gormadoc||

    The constant threat to sovereignty posed by the EU is something most libertarians would consider untenable. I thought we wanted to reduce the power of the state and bring it to a level more accountable to citizens, not keep it somewhere were grandstanding with no political consequence but real legislative consequence is rampant.

    The growing federalist tendencies in the EU are more of a threat to libertarian ideals than Britain making missteps in using their newfound sovereignty. The new desire for common energy policy, military forces, and labor practices would not bring the best of each nation to the front: you'd get Greek labor laws, French energy policy, and a badly fragmented military, purely to counterbalance the US. With Britain pulling out it shows that continued integration is alienating partners, hopefully slowing it down or reversing it. If not, at least Britain isn't included in the new mess.

  • Martinned||

    So libertarians are against vertical balance of powers now? Why on earth would a libertarian prefer a sovereign parliament with one-party majorities and unrestricted power over a division of powers between two levels where each constrains the other?

  • gormadoc||

    Because the UK isn't one-party and Parliament does not have unrestricted power, nor is there a danger that it will acquire such? The EU and UK don't share power, anyway: things under EU control (common market) aren't under UK revision. The EU doesn't get to review things under the purview of the UK, such as their armed forces.

    The only way in which the EU is actually restricted is through referendums, which they have repeatedly challenged until they get the result they want.

  • Sarcastr0||

    I'm not an expert on the EU, but from my experience (and just reading the news!), the EU has loads of initiatives that require member state signoff. Remember the drama with Germany and the bailout of Greece?!

  • Martinned||

    A quick catch-up is clearly in order:

    In the UK there is typically one party that has an absolute majority in the House of Commons, and therefore runs the government and the country. The present situation, where the Tory Party needs the DUP to keep it in power, is the exception.

    Once you control Parliament, Dicey's rule applies:

    The principle of Parliamentary sovereignty means neither more nor less than this, namely, that Parliament thus defined has, under the English constitution, the right to make or unmake any law whatever; and, further, that no person or body is recognised by the law of England as having a right to override or set aside the legislation of Parliament.
    Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution [Eighth Edition, 1915] (LibertyClassics, 1982), pp. 3-4.

    The fact that the courts occasionally push back doesn't change the fundamental principle: the majority in the House of Commons can do whatever it likes. It can make sneezing a crime punishable by hanging, it can fine people for jaywalking in New York, etc.

  • Martinned||

    As for balance of powers: The EU legislature includes the Council of Ministers, where the Member States are represented, allowing them a degree of control over EU lawmaking. Vice versa, a lot of EU law is in the form of directives, which require implementation at the Member State level, allowing the Member States a degree of freedom as to how they implement.

    (Sometimes only as to form, sometimes also in substance. When a directive is a minimum harmonisation directive, for example, the law requires the Member States to achieve a certain minimum level of protection, but does not bind them above that.)

  • JoeBlow123||

    This is an interesting line of reasoning, a large behemoth government over smaller governments is a check on power. Why not just create a world state to keep us all in line then?

  • Sarcastr0||

    large behemoth government over smaller governments is a check on power.

    Why do you hate Due Process/P&I Clauses of 14th Amendment of our Constitution?

  • JoeBlow123||

    So you are arguing that a world superstate would be a boon on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? I am just curious how far you take this line of reasoning or does it simply just stop at the oceans of large landmasses.

  • gormadoc||

    There's also a pretty good reason to "grant referendum results [some] special immunity from reversal"; it's that they can address difficult questions that people may be too squeamish to carry out. If we craft a great plan to fix the national debt and seek legitimacy from the populace for it a referendum is a good way to go. But once the entitlements slow and pocket books lighten a referendum to reverse the previous becomes likely. That's why the Brexit referendum included respecting the result, even though the administration didn't expect the result.

  • Naaman Brown||

    Why should Brexit Brits think they are better qualified to make decisions for Britain than the all wise bighead in Brussels, Belgium?

    Hmmm. Maybe they looked behind the curtain and saw the Wizard of EU had no clothes?

  • Sarcastr0||

    Just lazily invoking a shadowy conspiracy of intellectuals instead of an actual argument against the EU, much less actually addressing the thesis of the OP.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal with the European Union has proven so unpopular with both "Leave" and "Remain" supporters that it might well be rejected by Parliament.

    The betrayal of democracy is that "Remain" supporters get any say in the negotiations. "Brexit" won fair and square and that should be the directive for the British government to follow. Not how to keep "Remain" supporters happy.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Democracy doesn't require locking in all policies forever, nor does any particular British procedure.

    If the sense of the nation has changed, it's not dictated by democratic norms to ignore that.

  • ||

    The betrayal of democracy occurred when the government handed over Brexit negotiations to an inept PM who was never fully committed to Brexit and who made a hash of the deal by trying to insure that its terms didn't discomfit any of the Remainers in the City.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Well all the Brexit folks left Parliament, so...

    Neat name, BTW.

  • Martinned||

    Yes, a cunning move by Theresa May, trying to sink Brexit by putting a whole bunch of prominent Brexiteers in charge of the key Brexit departments (David Davis and later Dominic Raab at DExEU, Liam Fox at the Department for International Trade, and Boris Johnson at the FCO).

  • Lee Moore||

    But as I'm sure you are aware, those Brexit departments did not in fact conduct the negotiations with the EU. Davis resigned after the Chequers deal was revealed to him and he discovered that members of his department had been taken without his knowledge to work at the direction of the actual negotiator who was working directly for May. Raab resigned when he discovered that a whole extra, and completely unacceptable to him - clause - which he had not even been consulted on, had been slipped into the withdrawal agreement at the last minute.

    The Brexiteers were simply there as decoration. The government as a whole is strongly Remain, and the actual negotiation has been conducted solely by remainers. Thy have been trying to lose the negotiation and have been successful in their aim.

  • Martinned||

    Haven't you noticed Liam Fox travelling the world negotiating dozens of free trade deals? And if Boris Johnson and David Davis haven't been running Brexit, what have they been doing? With all that free time, you'd think that they'd have come up with a coherent plan for Brexit by now...

  • Sarcastr0||

    Your only evidence is your telepathy, Lee.

    Working on something you don't agree with is basic professionalism. If you're going to decide the entire UK government lacks that, you've just cynic-ed yourself out of the idea that a republican form of government being a thing that can exist in the modern era.

  • Lee Moore||

    No idea what you're on about, Sarcastro. It's not a secret why Davis and Raab reigned - they said why publicly. Nor is it a secret who conducted the Brexit negotiations, it's official public information. It was a civil servant called Olly Robbins reporting to the Prime Minister, not to the Brexit Secretary.

    So Martinned was simply wrong when he suggested that the pro-Brexit Ministers (Johnson, Davis and Fox) have been running the Brexit show, They haven't. Policy has been made by the pro-Remain Prime Minister, supported by the pro-Remain Cabint and negotiations have been conducted at the Prime Minister's direction by a civil servant reporting directly to her.

    The PM and Mr Robbins may have been valiantly and professionally suppressing their pro Remain feelings (though the result of this valiant professionalism seems to be tragically similar to what a commitedly unprofessional enemy of Brexit might have set his or her mind to) but for present purposes it is sufficient to note that Martinned's snide chirripping about this all being a mess of pro-Brexit Ministers making, is simply wrong. The pro Brexit Ministers have not been running the Brexit show, the PM has. It's all in the public record.

  • Lee Moore||

    Incidentally what is Well all the Brexit folks left Parliament, so... supposed to mean ?

    Do you mean that the Brexit folk left the government ?

    If so, you're right. They agreed to join the government, but have left at various points in the process as the government has abandoned each of its election promises one by one. Different pro-Brexit Ministers have had different sticking points. That's what Ministers are supposed to do when thegovernment adopts a policy they strongly disagree with. The theory is that if you're in the government you're expected to support government policy, even if you disagree with it. When you are no longer able to suport government policy, you resign from the government.

    But you stay in Parliament until the voters chuck you out.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Your timeline is off - most of the luminaries left way before negotiations even began.

    it is sufficient to note that Martinned's snide chirripping about this all being a mess of pro-Brexit Ministers making, is simply wrong.

    Dunno about that side of things either way - my issue is that your only argument is a bare assumption that May was sabotaging things because she disagreed with them. You need evidence for that assumption and you have none.

  • Lee Moore||

    Eh ? Which "luminaries" did you have in mind ? Where did you get the idea that any luminaries left way before the negotiations began ?

    The negotiations formally began in June 2017 (though there had been negotiations about negotiations before then.) The only Brexiteer who had left the government by then was a junior Minister called David Jones who was fired by May for failing to answer a journalist's question about whether May was doing a good job, with the necessary degree of enthusiasm. I forget his precise words but I think he was asked whether he thought she was doing a good as Prime Minister and he replied something like "she the best Prime Minister we've got." So whether she's a saboteur of Brexit or not, she's certainly as petty and vindictive as Trump.

    Olly Robbins reporting directly to Mrs May took over the negotiations in September 2017 (he was not merely the lead negotiattor but also the Prime Minister's "Europe Adviser") The two most senior Conservative Brexiteers are Boris Johnson and David Davis. They resigned from the government in July 2018.

  • Lee Moore||

    As for whether May has been deliberately sabotaging Brexit, I have no direct evidence of intent - she doesn't whisper her secret thoughts to me. So we're back with "disparate impact."

    What she has actually done - announce that "No deal is better than a bad deal" and then refuse to make preparations for "No Deal" , thereby wrecking her own negotiating position with the EU, appoint exclusively hard line Remainers as advisers, remove negotiating authority from the Brext department run by Brexiteers and place it with her own negotiator, cave to the ridiculous "Irish border" bluff, walk back all her red lines previously agreed in Cabinet and then arrive at a "deal" which has achieved the remarkable feat of being recognised as worse than staying in by Brexiteers, and worse than leaving by Remainers - well if it isn't deliberate sabotage, it looks so like the results of sabotage that you can't tell the difference.

  • ||

    The globalist perverts won't stop until we have a one-world government to care (badly) for all of humanity.

  • Martinned||

    You say that as if that would be a bad thing...

  • M.L.||

    A one-world government would be the worst thing imaginable.

  • Sarcastr0||

    You forget, MI - this one will be run by perverts.

    It'll be like Star Trek slash fiction come to life!!

  • JeffR24||

    Imposing a fundamentally liberal world government would require the free nations of the world to win a world war against the illiberal states. Imposing a fundamentally illiberal one would require us to lose that war. Those are quite possibly the two worst things one can imagine.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Though there's Ian going to be the usual come-oriented bias, answers to the procedural question must address three sub-questions about Brexitexit

    1. Is it legal? Courts say yes, but second-guessing courts is a thing we are down for hereabouts.

    2. Does it break any norms? That's the issue of the OP. This is pretty untested territory so it's hard to say yes.

    Which is why most of the considered, non-table banging opposition is ending up at 3. Is it wise?
    Not is the outcome wise, but isn't the procedure a wise precedent to set?

    Seems to come down to framing - is this an immediate do over, or have material facts changed?

    and those claiming bad faith by May are just bloviating unless they offer evidence.

  • ||

    "Norms" are weapons used against conservatives.

  • Martinned||

    Because conservatives don't like norms? That doesn't sound very conservative...

  • Bob from Ohio||

    "bad faith by May"

    Its either bad faith or incompetence.

  • Martinned||

    Hanlon's razor...

  • Sarcastr0||

    Or GIGO. Dunno much about May, but to me this was shooting yourself in the foot and then blaming the doctor.

  • DjDiverDan||

    "those claiming bad faith by May are just bloviating unless they offer evidence."

    Why? Because you reject the validity of res ipsa loquitor?

  • Martinned||

    No, because he rejects the validity of ipse dixit.

  • KenveeB||

    I'm not British, so my opinion matters exactly squat. But my problem with the idea of a second referendum at this point would be because it's being proposed because the government has failed to negotiate a Brexit deal. That means that referendums mean absolutely nothing, because the government can just ignore them until they can call a new vote. If you're going to allow referendums, then you need to actually comply with them. If the government fully complied with the Leave vote and then at some point later there was a Rejoin referendum, then fine. But don't give the politicians the ability to just ignore a referendum, since referendums exist to require them to listen to the people directly.

  • Martinned||

    On the contrary. The government has negotiated a Brexit deal. Here it is. It's 584 pages long, and it's pretty close to the best deal they were ever going to get, given their red lines.

  • Lee Moore||

    Here is the former Governor of the Bank of England's opinion of the deal :

    https://www.bloomberg.com/
    opinion/articles/2018-12-04/
    mervyn-king-says-may-s-brexit-
    deal-is-a-betrayal

    You maybe right that it was the best deal the UK was going to get - and more so given the UK government's deliberate failure to plan for "no deal."

    But "no deal" respects the UK governments red lines and would be just fine.

  • Lee Moore||

    Though I suspect that the EU would have offered a better deal if the UK had not meekly accepted the EU's postion on the Irish border. The EU managed to persuade* the UK that the Irish border was a UK problem rather than an EU problem. In reality, it's totally an EU problem. The UK has, and never had, any intention of erecting a trade barrier between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland. It is the EU that requires such a border unless the UK agrees to stay in the customs union. Any customs post would have been on the Irish side of the border, not the UK side. Hence if the UK were to leave without a deal, it would be the EI in a panic that there was an Irish hole in their tariff and trade wall . British co-operation in helping the EU manage that problem was a negotiating chip held by the UK that could have been traded for something useful. Instead the UK handed that chip to the EU and allowed it to be used as a major weapon against the UK !

    *The charitable view is that te UK government was indescribably stupid about this. Sadly the much more likely explanation is that the UK government was happy to paint itself into a corner, so as to arrive at a leave-in-neme-only "deal."

  • Martinned||

    Yes, how "meek" of the UK to agree that it's commitments under the Good Friday Agreement and the peace and prosperity of Northern Ireland were its problem rather than the EU's. Clearly the correct approach is for England not to give a toss about the wellbeing of its last remaining overseas colony.

  • Lee Moore||

    Wrong again :

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/45500214/
    trimble-brexit-does-not-breach-the-
    good-friday-agreement

    Though it is arguable that May's woeful "deal" does break the GFA.

  • Krayt||

    The betrayal of democracy is in the assumption constitution-level changes should be done via simple majority -- even if done by vote of the people as a whole.

    It is susceptible to demagogic whipsawing, which is what you are seeing right now.

    If a major change to governance is a good idea, most will think so, not just a transient bare majority, and they will think so 5 and 10 yeara from now, not just now when passions are high.

    A brief majority stirred up by rhetoric is no way to run organizing principles for a nation.

  • JonFrum||

    So now libertarians are arguing for superstates? The EU is far less libertarian than an independent Britain has been or would be. Lenin said that the capitalists would sell them the rope used to hang the last capitalist. Now, we've got libertarians selling rope to bureaucratic totalitarians. Good fucking grief.

  • Martinned||

    The country where the Conservative prime minister ran for re-election by promising extra funding for the National Health Service and by promising to abolish human rights is more libertarian than the Institution that created the largest and deepest supranational free trade area in the world? Hmmm...

    If you guys knew anything about the EU at all, its protections of free trade - as compared to the dormant commerce clause - would make you blush.

    Beyond that, the EU is value-free, just like any other institution. Neither Britain nor the EU is inherently liberal or libertarian. It depends on who gets elected to run it. The only think you can say as a libertarian is that more veto points is better. And the British constitution has exactly zero veto points to stop anyone with a majority in the House of Commons.

  • JoeBlow123||

    You are full of a lot of shit.

  • Sarcastr0||

    He is from the EU, dude.

  • JoeBlow123||

    That is fine if his line is that he loves the EU and thinks it is great. There are things about it that I too really like, like the Schengen Zone. If I am expected to swallow the EU is a boon on libertarianism, small government, and less social engineering I am going to have to draw the line. That is a bunch of crap. History has not borne this out.

  • Careless||

    Somin does because his primary focus is maximizing immigration. He's not functionally a libertarian when policy that touches immigration is impacted

  • Jimmy the Dane||

    What smacks of a "betrayal" here is that it was pretty much the day after the referendum passed the elites were calling for a new one because, in their reasoning, "the stupid commoners knew not what they had done" and "even though it got a majority" it was a "slim majority". A new referendum is not because matters have changed or a significant amount of time has passed that might show the will of the people has changed, it is a simple dilatory action seeking to undo something that flies in the face of the European globalist agenda.

    I could see the logic "live by the referendum, die by the referendum" but here it is clearly a move to side step democracy. The literal day after calling for a "do over" then taking all the machinery of power from the House of Commons to the Courts to slam on the breaks and make pulling out seem "impossible" shows the true motive here.

    We all know what the true motives are here. Don't try to cover them up.

  • Lee Moore||

    Somin's response to Bourne shows that he just wants to rehash the arguments about whether Brexit is a good idea, rather than engage seriously with the question of how many times you should ask the people to vote before implementing their decision.

    This – I don't think a handful of cases like this is enough to create a legally or morally binding "convention." is the sum total of his response to Bourne's recital of how clearly the UK government promised, before the referendum, that the vote would be implemented; and how clearly the two main parties campaigned in 2017 on a promise to implement the decision that had been taken. Reheating old arguments from the referendum campaign as if they involved "new" information" is feeble.

    If explicit and unambiguous promises from the government before the referendum, and both parties at the subsequent general election don't create a morally binding "convention" then there's no such thing as a morally binding convention.

  • Lee Moore||

    Good article by the former Governor of the Bank of England here :

    https://www.bloomberg.com/
    opinion/articles/2018-12-04/
    mervyn-king-says-may-s-brexit-
    deal-is-a-betrayal

  • Rеv. Arthur I. Kirkland||

    Exhibit 4490291220202 in which the ignorant filthy Bull Cow demonstrates his commitment to a one world government with open borders, regardless of the particular location on planet earth.

  • Sarcastr0||

    filthy!

  • Jerryskids||

    The American Revolution was arguably justified because it made America a freer society than it would have been under the continued rule of the British Empire. The revolutionaries famously defended their actions on the grounds that Britain was violating their rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," not on the theory that an ethnically or territorially defined group had a right secede for any reason they wanted. Had the revolutionaries sought to create a less free society than what existed under British rule, that would have been a good reason to oppose their actions. If libertarian critics of Brexit are correct, that is precisely what will happen if the UK continues on its current course.

    You're justifying the American Revolution by how it turned out (it could just as easily have turned out otherwise, like say if the 13 colonies had split up into several different nations and fell into a state of constant warfare with each other and with foreign empires) but claiming Brexit isn't justified by what you think the outcome might be. Do you seriously believe the public who voted for Brexit want a less free Great Britain? Or is it just that they're idiots who don't know what's for their own good? If you're going to judge by intentions, comparing Brexit to the American Revolution is an apt analogy. Both involve people insisting their sovereignty is being impinged upon.

  • Martinned||

    Do you seriously believe the public who voted for Brexit want a less free Great Britain?

    Yes, although they might not have interpreted it that way. (People seem remarkably reluctant to agree that making it harder for Spanish people to come to the UK also implies making it harder for British people to go to Spain.)

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    From your link:

    Multiple sources have found a correlation between having a higher level of education and voting 'remain', as well as a correlation between having lower educational level and voting 'leave'. YouGov found that 68% of voters with a university degree voted 'remain',

    I really, really wish we could ditch this 'university degree' as 'educated' trope. As the Inimitable Iowahawk stated: Some of the smartest people I know have graduate degrees. All of the dumbest people I know have graduate degrees.

    And please, refrain from Wikipedia links to buttress any argument.

  • M.L.||

    "UPDATE:.. [Brexit] was based on flawed assumptions.. that the UK could secure the benefits of free trade and investment flows with the EU without also having to accept various EU rules."

    LOL! Somin is head-smackingly dumb, with zero self-awareness to notice when his zealous, ideological advocacy becomes strained and unbecoming of an academic.

    They haven't even tried a true negotiation. Somin couldn't negotiate his way out of a paper bag. "Oh, I'm so sorry EU, we had no idea you would be so displeased at our declaring independence from your tyranny, and would refuse to entertain any modern notion of trade between nations on remotely reasonable terms. So sorry, please just let us go ahead and reverse this action right away."

    Fool. Time to watch Nigel Farage's post-Brexit speech to the EU again! Some of the best TV of the decade. Here's one key passage:

    Let us listen to some simple pragmatic economics – my country and your country, between us we do an enormous amount of business in goods and services. That trade is mutually beneficial to both of us, that trade matters. If you were to cut off your noses to spite your faces and reject any idea of a sensible trade deal the consequences would be far worse for you than it would be for us.
  • Careless||

    This was pretty funny: Martinned coming in "Hey, I'm a lawyer, EU citizen, and British resident! I know much more about this than anyone! It'll be a slaughter"

    Well, it was.

  • Careless||

    Granted, that kid in The Last Starfighter didn't have a media working to convince him that he was right the way Martinned does.

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