As the Leaderless UK Begins Sinking, MPs, Media and British Citizens Don’t Seem to Care

8.7.16

A drawing of the Titanic sinking in 1912.Two weeks after the EU referendum, the situation in the UK is even more depressing than it was at the time, for a variety of reasons, primarily to do with having no leadership whatsoever, with few people seemingly caring that we have no leadership whatsoever, and with our political class and our media failing to understand that the ramifications of the referendum result mean that is is not business as usual, and will not be ever again.

Since the result was announced (51.9% for Leave, 48.1% to Remain, on a 72% turnout) we have constantly been told, by those with power and influence, that the will of the people must be accepted, but it remains apparent that the referendum should never have been called, and was only called because of David Cameron’s pathetically narrow political concerns and his cowardly refusal to challenge UKIP and Eurosceptics in his own party. It also remains apparent that it was primarily won because of outrageous lies by the Leave campaign, led by someone — Boris Johnson — who didn’t want to leave the EU and only did so to further his own political aims.

I don’t mean to suggest, by the way, that people only voted Leave because they were lied to. I understand that millions of people made up their own minds, although I don’t believe in general that proper consideration was given to the myriad ramifications of severing our involvement with the EU, by those who weren’t either acting on racist and xenophobic impulses, or false notions of sovereignty (the “us v. them” scenario, even though as a member of the EU, we were part of “them” and, in any case, most decisions about our spending and policies were still taken by our own government), or some essentially counter-productive notion of giving a kicking to the out-of-touch political elite in Westminster. On our sovereignty, by the way, I would just like to remind anyone reading this that Chatham House (aka the Royal Institute of International Affairs) noted, in “Britain, the EU and the Sovereignty Myth,” an important briefing before the referendum, that, “Apart from EU immigration, the British government still determines the vast majority of policy over every issue of greatest concern to British voters – including health, education, pensions, welfare, monetary policy, defence and border security. The arguments for leaving also ignore the fact that the UK controls more than 98 per cent of its public expenditure.”

It is also becoming more and more apparent to me that almost everyone on the political left — the old Left, as I see it — also voted to Leave, in what seems to me to be the mistaken belief that we will somehow be freed from the EU’s neo-liberal impulses, whereas it seems more likely to me that the minnow we will become outside the EU will be forced into even worse trade treaties. I think the Lexit camp also overlooked the many rights that we take for granted that are enshrined in EU legislation, but that are anathema to the Tories. Of course, the Left’s presumption is that they will somehow seize power now we are freed from the yoke of Europe, but it seems more likely that we will instead simply be subjected to an even heavier and more oppressive yoke of homegrown Conservatism, determined to finish the job of destroying the state provision of almost all services in the UK, and turning us into a privatised feudal state, with renewed vigour.

Two weeks on from the referendum, all those responsible have fled, leaving us  — disturbingly —without any leadership, as I mentioned at the start of this article. David Cameron resigned immediately, then Boris Johnson, and then Nigel Farage, and the last to go was Michael Gove, squeezed out of the Conservative Party leadership contest. It is appropriate to be happy that all of these clowns have gone, but, like the public schoolboys they are, they have handed on their mess to someone else to clean up. And throughout this whole disaster, not only is there no accountability, but, more importantly, there is also a hole where outrage and deep concern should be.

The media has become distracted by the Tories’ leadership election, to elect someone who may or may not clean up the mess in an adequate manner, although the details of how that might be done are still not considered to be important enough to be discussed in any sort of detail. And in the meantime, as the weeks pass, the elephant in the room — We are leaderless! No one is steering the ship! — is ignored, when clearly it is a topic that ought to be of the greatest importance.

And all the while, of course, the economy of the newly leaderless UK is in freefall, although, after the initial shock in the markets, we are barely being told about it. My main source of news, on a regular basis throughout the day, is the Guardian’s front page online, but the UK as a leaderless Titanic is never a headline, and even the economic impact of Brexit is rarely the main story. Elsewhere, of course, in the more right-wing media, there is even less interest, even though the pound has sunk to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985 — £1 yesterday bought just $1.29, a loss of 14% since the referendum, with pessimists predicting $1.16 by the end of the year — and even though, as the Guardian currently describes it, “turmoil in the UK commercial property sector prompted by the Brexit vote [is] forc[ing] fund managers to revalue their portfolios or temporarily prevent investors withdrawing their savings.”

The panic is affecting billions of pounds’ worth of property, and while I am an enthusiast for seeing the housing bubble in London and the south east brought an end, as it is the epitome of greed out of control, I worry that a systemic crash, triggered by the referendum and bringing down the economy as a whole, may be a disproportionately damaging way for it to happen, with repercussions that, as with any economic collapse, will impact most heavily on those who can least afford it.

In 2010, when the Tories failed to win an outright majority, the markets demanded a solution as quickly as possible, and a coalition government was formed within five days. Now, however, we’re being told that the country will not have a leader for another two months, leaving an unprecedented amount of time for the markets to give up on the economy. Britain’s economy is currently being held together — single-handedly, it seems — by Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England (and, ironically, an immigrant), but by September Britain could potentially face an unprecedented collapse, as there appears to be no serious support within the actual government to combat the pound’s decline, the politicians of the Leave camp having made no plan, and David Cameron having left Brexit plans in the hands of a particularly notable clown, Oliver Lewin, who has no demonstrable ability to do anything whatsoever. See the FT for more on what can be expected — beyond Letwin, that is.

I cannot express strongly enough how much the mainstream media needs to question and address its complicity in supporting the messages of the Leave campaigners, even when they were baseless propaganda, and its failure to investigate in detail almost all the issues involved in our proposed departure from the EU, and not just the obvious topics of immigration and perceptions of sovereignty. See Lord Puttnam on this, criticising the BBC’s coverage of the referendum as “constipated” and accusing broadcasters of a “criminal act” by not subjecting Boris Johnson’s claims under scrutiny, and also see the thoughts of Justin Webb of the Today programme.

As I see it, not only were the Leave camp’s lies rarely, if ever examined rigorously, but many highly important topics were never even covered, as I mentioned in an article following the result. One of the topics I discussed there was the uncertain future for Britain’s universities, and see here for a Reuters article from July 5 asking how the UK’s universities can “plug a funding gap and maintain prestige if the flood of students from across the EU slows to a trickle,” as it may well do.

Two weeks on from the referendum, and the mainstream media is now doing what it always does, but now needs to rethink urgently, which is to move on to whatever it is that is happening now and that can be dressed up as interesting. For some time now, it has been apparent to me that the maximum attention span of the mainstream media is about two weeks, however bad the news and however massive the newsworthy topic, to the extent that, as I have often joked, if the modern media were present at the start of the Second World War, they would have lost interest before the end of September 1939.

Hence my disappointment and anxiety that the true impact of Brexit, and questions about whether our national suicide is really in the national interest, is missing from the front pages of newspapers and from TV broadcasts, when we still appear to be in a disturbing new world full of almost endless uncertainty — and of a dangerous but predictable increase in racism and xenophobia — in which the UK before the morning of June 24 is absolutely not the same place as it has been since, and every certainty that existed before — regarding our rights as Europeans, as British citizens or as immigrants — is now open to debate, and every nuance of the politics of Cameron’s Britain, with its six years of austerity and its identifiable policies, however wretched they may have been, suddenly seems to be ancient history.

To many in the Leave camp, questioning the outcome of the referendum is regarded as unfair, but it must be stressed that the outcome was only advisory, and that it is now up to the government to implement it, and, as I mentioned a few days ago, in an important article for the Guardian last week, Geoffrey Robertson QC made clear where MPs’ responsibility lies. He pointed out that “‘[s]overeignty’ — a much misunderstood word in the campaign — resides in Britain with the ‘Queen in parliament’, that is with MPs alone who can make or break laws and peers who can block them. Before Brexit can be triggered, parliament must repeal the 1972 European Communities Act by which it voted to take us into the European Union — and MPs have every right, and indeed a duty if they think it best for Britain, to vote to stay.”

I also made reference to an article by law professor and former Foreign Office advisor Philip Allott, who stated that the Brexit decision may be “unlawful,” and another article explaining how solicitors at the prominent law firm Mishcon de Reya are “taking pre-emptive legal action against the government, following the EU referendum result, to try to ensure article 50 [triggering our departure from the EU] is not triggered without an act of parliament.”

In today’s Guardian, I’m glad to note, another flicker of light was provided by the news that “[t]he first legal attempt to prevent the prime minister initiating Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union is to be heard later this month,” as “[a] high court judge, Mr. Justice Cranston, has set 19 July for a preliminary hearing of [a] judicial review challenge brought on behalf of the British citizen Deir Dos Santos,” who “argues that only parliament – not the prime minister – can authorise the signing of article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, which begins the UK’s formal withdrawal process.”

The Guardian article also noted that the Dos Santos claim argues that, although David Cameron claimed, in his resignation speech, that the government “is of the view that the prime minister of the day has the power under article 50 (2) of the Lisbon treaty to trigger article 50 without reference to parliament,” that decision “is ‘ultra vires’ – beyond the legitimate powers of the government – because under ‘the UK’s constitutional requirements’, notification to the European Union council of withdrawal ‘can only be given with the prior authorisation of the UK parliament.’”

I admit that I have found myself clinging to these points of view over the past two weeks, and that their general dismissal disturbs me, because I genuinely fear for the future if — when — we leave the EU: the prolonged shock to the economy, the hardening of racist sentiment, the calls for the expulsion of all those regarded as unwanted immigrants, Britain’s inevitable decline in Europe and on the world stage, a deluded minnow sinking in wealth an influence, isolating itself just when more of the opposite was needed — more cooperation, more opening doors, more movement.

If you care about these issues, do let me know. There are millions of us, across all the political parties (well, except UKIP) and we urgently need to make our voices heard.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album ‘Love and War’ and EP ‘Fighting Injustice’ are available here to download or on CD via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

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44 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Two weeks after the EU referendum, here are my thoughts as the shock continues to resonate with me and with many other people – about how, collectively, our media, politicians and many of our citizens seem to be in denial about the cataclysmic effect on our economy. Instead, the media are collectively unable to remain focused on the ramifications of the vote, despite its unprecedented importance, and are, instead, obsessed with the Tory leadership election, even though the Tories are entirely to blame for this disaster. I also look at the hopeful voices arguing that MPs must resist implementing our departure from the EU, and others arguing that leaving the EU would be unlawful.

  2. Alistair Livingston says...

    In November 2013, 10 months before the Scottish independence referendum was held, the (SNP) Scottish Government published a 650 page White Paper ‘Scotland’s Future’ setting out in extensive detail their plans for an independent Scotland.

    The White Paper was argued over, debated, discussed and dissected in the run up to the referendum. The Leave campaign produced no similar document and their claims were never subject to the same exhaustive and exhausting critical scrutiny.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotland%27s_Future

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for your comments, Alistair. Yes, that’s quite a damning contrast – 650 pages versus none. What a shambles this has been – and continues to be.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Rosey Prince wrote:

    Just sent an exasperated and heartfelt email to Vicky Foxcroft on the subject will be interested to see if she replies. She didn’t last time I wrote to her.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    I haven’t tried to contact her since the referendum, Rosey, so I’ll be interested to see what she says – or why she doesn’t have anything to say if she doesn’t get back to you. I’ve been talking to a few politically active people – but not aligned to any particular party – to see if there’s any chance of creating some sort of solidarity movement for remaining in the EU – I don’t see any other way out, as the EU will insist that access to the single market is dependent on free movement, and we therefore need to drop our idiotic pretence that we can “ban” immigration so that we can stay connected to what is our major market, with our EU friends and neighbours.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Fiona Branson wrote:

    ‘replies within two to three weeks to a low number of messages’
    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/25380/vicky_foxcroft/lewisham%2C_deptford#responsiveness

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Fiona Branson wrote:

    Has anyone had a reply to the petition enquiring as to how she voted in the ‘no confidence’ motion?

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    I’ve only had one reply despite sending her several messages, Fiona, so that sounds about right. As for the “no confidence” question, I haven’t heard anything about how she voted.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Fiona Branson wrote:

    It’s been kept very quiet – hence the petition.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Rosey Prince wrote in response to 5, above:

    Altho Andy the only positive solidarity movement I am seeing is coming from Caroline Lucas

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    The Lib Dems too, Rosey, but we need something cross-party to reflect the cross-party nature of the 16-million-strong remain vote.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Rosey Prince wrote:

    Hmm I wonder if we can be dispassionate enough for that to work

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, that’s what I’m trying to find out, Rosey!

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Richard Osbourne wrote:

    The media (and others) are also shamefully obsessed with destroying the one politician who does have a coherent and intelligent plan – Jeremy Corbyn. If only he could get his message out past the shouting and slurs!

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Absolutely, Richard – well, the media and his own party’s MPs above all, who should be very profoundly ashamed. Now that Chilcot’s out, however, and their pathetic coup couldn’t get him to resign, so he couldn’t speak out, he seems to have survived, and, for the first time, Labour has made a contribution to the post-referendum debate via a column by Jeremy in the Guardian. I’ll be writing about this soon: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/08/jeremy-corbyn-labour-negotiations-europe-tories-exploit-cheap-labour

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Heather Steed wrote:

    The trouble is, the whole issue has become exhausted. Every expert, every politician tried applying reason and the leave vote still won. They didn’t listen then, they won’t now.

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    That’s right, Heather, but it’s too important to drop. What’s not being discussed is what is involved in our negotiations. The Leave voters want a ban on immigration, but if that comes at too high a cost: the loss of our access to the single market, with a suicidally high impact on the economy, then it will need to be fought over – in Parliament or, who knows, in the streets?

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Heather Steed wrote:

    Seeing as how so few people seem to understand the concept of Schengen I am sure we could safely leave the EU and join Schengen, retain free movement, and be ‘just like Norway’ by paying a rent to access the single market and nobody will guess what’s happened. Leave will be happy, because Britain will be ‘free’ and the rest us will be able to travel and trade, only paying slightly more for the privilege. If leave moan about the added expense, then we just shrug and say ‘principles cost.’

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    Heather Steed wrote:

    However there is a lot of leavers who claim they are not racists, just freedom fans, so maybe we need to exploit this. If they are not Racist, they should sign up to requesting parliament to put forward a freedom of movement deal. That means over half the population want to retain some ties.

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    Those are very good points, Heather. Thanks for your thoughts. Duly noted for further discussions!

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    Richard Osbourne wrote:

    Excellent, thoughtful article, btw, Andy. Couple of other considerations: apart from the Lexit point of view, there are millions of dispossessed, poorer voters for whom this was a cry for help. JC, in a recent speech told us there are now 13 million people in poverty in this country. 13 million! That’s 20% of our population. Whatever we’ve been doing as a nation, that statistic alone should indicate something is severely wrong.

    And, of course, the Blairite takeover of Labour has meant those traditional Labour voters have been voiceless for decades. Brexit was their first taste of democracy in a long time. I think that part of why Brexit has reverberated so loudly around the world is because a bubble of unreality has burst. The inequalities in the global system are unsustainable. These same dispossessed poor are all over the Earth and heard the sound of another possibility, though, as you point out, their situation in Britain is likely to worsen considerably with the vision being rolled out by the current Tory leadership hopefuls.

    The second point is that many people have been calling the astounding criminal fraud in the global economy for years – eg. Max Keiser on RT. They’ve been saying that it’s a giant ponzi scheme and will fail catastrophically. It looks like Brexit might simply be the trigger for a cascade of bankrupt businesses – eg. Deutsche Bank, Monte Paschi di Siena – to fold. So, although it looks like Britain is the only one currently affected, it may be the entire Western system needs a reset. Maybe this will give us all pause for thought about creating a more equitable, even happier, future. Mr Corbyn seems to think so.

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Richard. Yes, the cry for help is what I initially called political vandalism, but your description may be better in its sympathy. As I see it, only some version of socialism can address the ever-growing inequality, and the ever-increasing numbers of dispossessed people, who are literally of no use to our global capitalist system – although politicians generally try not to say that out loud, and much of their spinning is precisely so alienating because it is so dishonest; blaming the poor for having no job, for example, when there aren’t enough jobs to go round.
    Another collapse of the banking system is a very worrying prospect, but it is something I’ve been expecting, at some point or other, because the banking sector is so fundamentally corrupt, making money out of devious schemes designed only to make money for itself and impoverishing everyone else.
    So yes, perhaps this will be the trigger, but if so it will be horrible, and one sad aspect is that most of those who have demonstrated that they are anguished or are crying for help have just demonstrated that, in their millions, they don’t see socialism as the answer – and largely, of course, Jeremy Corbyn has been silenced with the absolute complicity of most of the media, including the supposedly objective media: the BBC and the Guardian, for example.

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    Lindis Percy wrote:

    Thank you Andy…excellent article.

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Lindis.

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    David Knopfler wrote:

    “If the modern media were present at the start of the Second World War, they would have lost interest before the end of September 1939.” Andy Worthington. Classic! 🙂 I can’t disagree with anything said here. I would add that everyone pushing for a General Election had best be aware that a) current UK law would need to be changed to allow it and b) a large body of public opinion who voted for Leave will happily transfer their allegiance to UKIP for a General Election. If you think the Government under David Cameron was too far to the right in its austerity and other measures, be aware that both Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom are a good several degrees further to the right than David Cameron and they may find, after wangling a snap election, it expedient be seeking UKIP rather than the Lib-Dems as a coalition. It really could happen. In brief, we ain’t out the sh*t yet by a longways.

    And then we come to the embarrassment of Labour’s ongoing difficulties of its PLP’s persistent insistence on being wildly further to the right than its members, which actually delivered Jeremy Corbyn to them with a mandate to give it a rest and behave like Labour and not Conservative-light. Answers on a postcard to the chicken coup below decks of the Titanic, above.

  26. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, David. I’m trying to look at the above in a different, more positive light, so here goes: without a General Election, Thatcher II (Albion help us) will genuinely have legitimacy issues that will blight her rule, but I can see that, if there is an election, Labour cannot presently win – and I don’t see that as Corbyn’s fault, for a variety of reasons that we may want to discuss some other time, as it’s quite complex (although every scenario involves contempt for those who staged the recent coup) – but it’s also possible/probable that the Tories wouldn’t win an outright majority either. UKIP, I suspect, might get a number of candidates elected, and could engage in the nightmare coalition you mention, but I’m not sure that a right-wing Tory/UKIP coalition would command the respect of enough of the population to avoid increasing dissent. That’s about as hopeful as I can get.

  27. Andy Worthington says...

    Richard Osbourne wrote:

    And today, we have the unedifying sight of Neil Kinnock popping up in the Guardian saying how angry he is and that ‘Corbyn must go’. He is a failure and a windbag from the past, but his article is being pushed harder than JC’s from yesterday. I do wonder about the Guardian.

  28. Andy Worthington says...

    Oh, what a slimeball Kinnock is, Richard – and the very definition of a political loser. The Guardian’s attitude to Jeremy Corbyn is disgraceful. It was good they allowed his column yesterday, but in general they are in bed with those responsible for the pathetic coup – all those idiots and traitors who see history levels of Labour Party membership – with the majority joining specifically to support Jeremy Corbyn – as part of the threat to their perception of how the Party should be. Last week I heard one of the “rebels” talk about how the people who vote for Labour are more important than the party members, as though those 9.3 million people wouldn’t vote for Jeremy Corbyn. Where’s the proof of that?

  29. Andy Worthington says...

    Kate McMillan wrote:

    Suitably nourishing. Thanks Andy

  30. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Kate. The fallout from this disaster is still consuming me – and I know that’s the case for many other people. The indifference of the mainstream media, on the other hand, is a thoroughly shameful abdication of responsibility.

  31. Andy Worthington says...

    David Knopfler wrote:

    Andy, events that push us to ever more repression and conflict might have had a certain David Spart currency in the breathless debating chambers of a college bar in my student days, but I didn’t then and can’t now subscribe to any social-philosophy that recommends things getting worse in order to precipitate collapse to then hopefully, with no joined-up-thinking, somehow make things better.

    Back up in a mining village in the North East, where I did a gig not so long ago, there is genuinely no light in the tunnel. It wasn’t exactly fabulous in the fabled days of mining but there was work, and shops without boards on their windows, and solidarity, and expectation of better things for your kids than you had, and so on. The failures of the Labour Party have been many, but worst of all of them has been their persistent failure to look after their own in these communities. They have been utterly betrayed and ironically arguably helped more by EU grants than by anything Westminster have offered. That the members support for an unabashed socialist like Corbyn has not been even understood or respected by the PLP, says a great more about the PLP than it does about Jeremy Corbyn. A bird needs two wings to fly and so does the Labour Party

  32. Andy Worthington says...

    I couldn’t agree more, David. And clearly Labour and, since 2010, the Tories are guilty of abandoning communities in towns up and down the country. I’ve been aware for years that we’ve been becoming more and more like the US, with ghost towns everywhere full of still living people, given up on by politicians whose obsession with turbo-capitalism has blinded them to the colossal human cost of our broken systems. In a way, it’s astonishing that a referendum provided an opportunity for this mass of people to demonstrate some power, and to show how numerous they are, and I’d commend that if it wasn’t for the potentially disastrous effects.

  33. David Sparks says...

    I agree 100 % with what you have said. I am an expat living in Spain, as I wanted to experience a new culture, and take advantage of free movement within the EU. Also as a pensioner maintain a standard of living which as a pensioner in the UK I could not afford. I am still a patriotic English man, but also a European. I can’t understand why anyone wanted to leave the EU. I still maintain that the lies of Brexit had an enormous influence of those who voted leave. I agree that the UK Ship is with out a captain and is rudderless. I agree that the UK is sinking as the population is burying it’s head in the sand. As an expat in Spain I have felt the immediate effect. Brexit. I have lost 20% off of my income due to the value of the pound. I have lost 20% off of my home valuation. People in the UK still have to feel the effects of Brexit. When it hits them they may realise that they have made perhaps one of the biggest mistakes in UK history. I despair of the UK islander mentality, and not realising that the days of Empire have long since gone.

  34. rachel says...

    If anyone behaved like they (Westminster) have (are) in their everyday jobs; lying, backstabbing, lack of planning etc. They would be sacked. Full stop. Why are we sitting back and waiting? We employ these people to run our country. Can we refuse to pay tax until they are doing their jobs?!
    I’ve also noted through various forums the sheer proportion of professionals (doctors, engineers, pharmacists, teachers) looking to leave the UK. This could have untold impact..but might help migration numbers 😉

  35. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for your comments, David. Good to hear from you. Sadly, as I’m sure you realise, during what assed for the debate on the referendum, there was very little discussion of the two million British people living and working in other EU countries, and how it would impact on them. I talked about it a lot in my discussions with friends, but it sank in the mainstream discourse, because that was so disgracefully shallow.
    I fear you are correct to say that it is “perhaps one of the biggest mistakes in UK history,” and I agree with your analysis of the islander mentality, and the desire toiling to some notion of Empire that is long gone. I met someone yesterday who’s been living in Berlin for some time. He told me the Germans have a word for the British – island monkeys – that I thought was rather sadly accurate.
    So anyway, David, let us hope common sense will prevail when MPs realise that it is up to them to approve our departure, and that, even if they think that leaving can, in some way, prevent immigration (although, to be honest, I think it can’t be stopped very effectively, as all our borders are so porous), the cost will be disastrously high – exile from the single market, and economic relegation to the status of a provincial backwater on the edge of Europe.

  36. Andy Worthington says...

    Good to hear from you, Rachel. Yes, almost all of them are a complete disgrace, aren’t they? And it’s ironic, because one of the reasons people voted to leave was because they were fed up with a corrupt out of touch elite, and all the referendum and its aftermath has done is further demonstrate how true that perception was.
    It’s very worrying that so many professionals are talking of leaving – and I’m also hearing that many foreign nationals who have been contributing very effectively to the economy are planning to leave as well. The best way to reduce migration, of course, is for the economy to tank, so maybe the xenophobes will get what they desire in the most brutal way possible.
    Astor getting rid of the clown who govern us, that’s a more difficult question to answer. personally, I think we need Labour under Corbyn, the Lib Dems, the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens to come together in a grand coalition, standing aside for each other across the country wherever they can win, and getting the Tories out. I don’t see any other way to take our country back!

  37. Andy Worthington says...

    David Knopfler wrote:

    Andy, Germany with a conservative Chancellor, from an alliance with their Labour Party, bans fracking, phases out nuclear power, accepts and provides for refugees, supports unionisation, low working hours, and generally has some barely concealed distaste for neo-liberalism… and will keep TTIP in EU committee with the lawyers for a decade, while our establishment brown-envelopers will rubber stamp anything with personal wealth enhancements attached tomorrow and devil take the hindmost… It’s going to be neo-liberalism on steroids and we are going to need an effective opposition… someone that, like FDR, understands the value of grass-roots mass support to protect our best interests and not leave it all up to a Westminster elite, it seems to me is the box to tick. If the PLP can find a candidate to pitch against Corbyn, I suspect they will handsomely lose, and deserve to.

  38. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, I agree with everything you say about the constructive nature of domestic German politics, David. They put us to shame. A German person I know told me back in 2010, “In Germany our politicians believe in continuity, whereas here in the UK, every four of five years, you get a new government that proceeds to burn the entire country to the ground.”
    Unfortunately, the same conclusion can’t be reached about the Euro project, which I think needs to be got rid of, so that countries like Greece can float free and devalue rather than staying barely alive in a state of permanent strangulation inflicted by the wealthier countries in the Eurozone.
    And here in the UK? An anti-Tory coalition, please – Corbyn’s Labour, Lib Dems, SNP, Greens, Plaid Cymru, all united against the Tories, agreeing to only put up one candidate in each constituency who can defeat them. I don’t see how we can get rid of them otherwise – at least not peacefully. Our media is corrupt and almost entirely pro-Tory, but if they’re not stopped they will kill us.

  39. Andy Worthington says...

    Deborah Emin wrote:

    Andy, just a comment from the US about the ones left to rot in towns dying from failed industries and their removal to cheaper labor markets. Here the DNC under Bill Clinton made the decision not to go after their votes, falsely assuming these citizens had no one else but the Democrats to rely on. A strategic blunder of enormous consequences as we have seen most recently. Secondly, my wife and I tour this country every summer. This year a complete cross country tour that will afford us views from people everywhere about how they are living and what they expect. This being an election year, the road trip ought to be quite informative. I don’t see it as predictive of any results but more a way to see what no other media company (though mine is very tiny) would invest to see. I’ll be filing reports here: Deborah Emin Andy Worthington, just a comment from the US about the ones left to rot in towns dying from failed industries and their removal to cheaper labor markets. Here the DNC under Bill Clinton made the decision not to go after their votes, falsely assuming these citizens had no one else but the Democrats to rely on. A strategic blunder of enormous consequences as we have seen most recently. Secondly, my wife and I tour this country every summer. This year a complete cross country tour that will afford us views from people everywhere about how they are living and what they expect. This being an election year, the road trip ought to be quite informative. I don’t see it as predictive of any results but more a way to see what no other media company (though mine is very tiny) would invest to see. I’ll be filing reports here: https://www.facebook.com/sullivanstpress

    I hope you’ll follow. Thanks for your work, which offers great insights into a cancer this country suffers from–Guantanamo.

  40. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Deborah. Always good to hear from you. Your road trips sound fascinating, and it has been apparent to me for some time, from my visits to the US since 2008, that we in the UK constantly look to the US, home of turbo-capitalism and neo-liberalism, for inspiration, with our politicians, pimping for big money, constantly trying to work out how much more abuse of people they can get away with, following the American model. My entire adult life has been dominated by these scum – from Thatcher and Reagan onwards – and yet their trickery is such, largely through the media and the “entertainment industry,” that people have been encouraged not to see it.

  41. Toby Goodwin says...

    Minor quibble: your percentages in the second para add up to 101%! I believe the correct figures are 51.9% leave and 48.1% remain.

  42. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Toby. Yes, you’re right. Thanks for noticing.

  43. Andy Worthington says...

    Michele Rowe wrote:

    Thank you Andy for this article. It resonates with what many of us are thinking and feeling. I am going to post and share it too. I notice refreshingly, that you avoid the Jeremy plot, and guess that you have done this to focus on the turmoil of the issues at hand, which the Labour Party are allowing to lose focus on.

  44. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Michele. I’m very glad about the resonance. I just don’t see enough about this in the mainstream media, which shocks and amazes me on a daily basis. Mainstream journalism is, astonishingly, becoming even more discredited. Oh, and I’ll be publishing an article about the shameful Labour coup very soon, which I dealt with it separately, as you suggesed, to avoid diluting the main issues.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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