Keep Calm and Carry On

I’m still depressed and worried by the referendum vote, but it isn’t the British way to yield to despair. Let’s take the advice of a previous generation…


It seems clear that we are set to remain in the EU for the forseeable future, as the Leave campaigners are in no hurry to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty. I think there’s a real chance that we’ll end up staying in the EU after all.

In any case we are still in the European Union now. So. Chin up everyone. Business as usual!

20 Responses to “Keep Calm and Carry On”

  1. Michael Kenyon Says:

    Maybe we will but it would be odd to ignore what the majority of the people who bothered to vote want.

    I voted remain but it has been hilarious to watch all the mainly London based liberal elite going into meltdown at the result. They say we must have another referendum and this time get the ‘right’ result, lots of protests and anger, absolutely fine but it’s acting just how they said the leave side would if the vote had gone against them. Democracy is great but only if we win, laughable really.

    We need a general election as soon as possible, and let the leading party/coalition sort out the terms of leaving.

    • 52% is hardly a decisive majority; within error the two sides are about the same. So when one option is to throw everybody’s lives into chaos, and the other is to keep things the same, I know which sounds more sensible to me.

      • Michael Kenyon Says:

        ‘Keep things the same’, why ever bother with elections again? If the party in power is doing ok then let them carry on, keep the status quo. I’m sure that’s what all right thinking people would want. Not that we’ll take notice of what people want, especially if they are from North Shields rather that North Hampstead.

        The brilliant thing about Thursday is that it has finally got everyone to reveal what they really are and what they really believe in. From David Lammy calling on fellow MPs not to respect what the majority have voted for to a petition which effectively wants us to keep on having referendums until they get the result that the signees want.

        Imagine if they did ignore the referendum that voted to leave, how could it possibly be justified and if so how could you ever trust voting again?

        The EU will never be the same again, nor will the Tories or Labour. Whatever the authorities do to change the vote, run it again, ignore it, a line has been crossed and there is no turning back. I say enjoy the ride, even if it might be a rocky one!

  2. I don’t think you read what I wrote. If the margin was 99%, of course; 75% yes, 66%. But 52%? What about 50.0001% – would you say that was a powerful call that cannot be ignored?

    • Michael Kenyon Says:

      But that wasn’t what the terms of the referendum were, if in the future they want a % on turnout or margin of victory etc then that needs to be in place before the process starts.

      Now the majority of those who bothered to vote has spoken. I voted remain but we can’t ignore this majority.

      Chaos on if they don’t go with their wishes, maybe chaos if they do.

  3. I think it’s important that UK scientists avoid creating the perception that they’re part of some global-fatcat I’m all right Jack vested-interest group now peddling doom and despondency and calling for another vote, or denigrating democracy as “mere populism”. All that money for science doesn’t really come from the EU. It came from the UK taxpayer. It was re-routed by the EU along with money for landowners etc, to curry favour for the EU. Don’t forget that universities tend to be run by vice-chancellors who are professors, and who are collecting £600k a year. Think about what you say. Think about how it might be perceived by somebody who’s on minimum and a zero-hours contract.

    • telescoper Says:

      The EU invests funds in science because it understands the social and economic importance of doing so, not to “curry favour”.

  4. Anton Garrett Says:

    Both sides accepted the terms of this referendum as morally binding ahead of the event.

    As one of this blog’s relatively few Christian contributors I’d like to say that I have been disappointed to see certain Church of England vicars tweeting that all Brexiteers are closet racists (because of the immigration issue) while on the other hand fundamentalist websites insist that Britain is a Christian country and continental Europe is godless and atheistic, ‘therefore’ God wants Britain out. In fact it is obvious that Britain and continental Europe are both currently dominated by secularist views, and governance is properly a secular issue anyway. The church should be promoting reconciliation, not division, and I said so this morning using words from which I hope our congregation were unable to tell which side I was on. Our Elders did nothing to promote either view during the run-up to the vote.

    Both major political parties appear to be split, too!

    • Michael Kenyon Says:

      The church is part of the establishment and they don’t want the status quo disrupted. What we have witnessed in the last few days has been almost as remarkable as the referendum result itself. The establishment, the EU scaremongers and the London based liberal ( as long as you agree with them ) elite are doing everything they can to prevent a democratic vote being heeded. Swamp creatures like Blair, Mandelson and Campbell are suddenly being sought for their opinions. The Labour right are seeking to depose their democratically elected leader.

      The veneer of democracy has been lifted, it’s all money, big business and vested interests. Whatever people vote will be ignored, and if you ignore the votes of people all they have left is the armalite.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        The Church of England is part of the establishment alright – it is officially known as the Established church. But plenty of English Christians including me are in other congregations because, for a variety of reasons, they disapprove of church-State links.

      • I am not sure that calling people you dislike ‘swamp creatures’ in a discussion about the dangers of racism and accusations of racism is helpful.

  5. Racists have been a small minority, but it is hard to deny that immigration was made the big issue, that some of the posters used promoted racism, and that the political murder was racist-inspired. And ‘Oh, but I don’t mean YOU’ does NOT make it any better.

    The bottom line is that younger people are much more international in their outlook, and for them the prospect of not being part of Europe is depressing: for them, England is no longer a home, but an island prison.

    When banks sell products by misrepresentation, they become liable. Does the same apply to politicians?

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      If so then every politician I can think of in my adult lifetime would be bankrupted.

    • Adrian Burd Says:

      Politics in England seems to me to be in a very precarious position. From what I can gather, both sides of the Brexit debate employed rhetorical extremes (lies) in order to try and persuade the voters. Both sides appealed to baser human emotions and instincts, though I have to say, from what I’ve seen, those who supported leaving the EU were in a category unto themselves — and like those who support Trump over here in the US, voters who fell for their arguments hook-line-and-sinker should be ashamed, though I’m sure many will try to rationalize their decisions.

      I cannot recall who said that politics is the art of compromise, and in general that seems to be true. All politicians make statements when seeking election that, one hopes, they have the full intention of trying to carry out. However, as we have seen here in the US, this falls apart when the other side flatly refuses to join the game. Then, you have to prioritize so as to spend your political capital as best you can.

      So whilst many politicians do lie and obfuscate (and the Brexit campaign is a great example of this), others have to modify their stated agendas according to what ends up being possible (note, I am not saying those who led the leave campaign fall into this latter category, they most definitely fall squarely into the former).

      The art of the voter is in trying to discern the true lies from the overly ambitious agenda. It seems from afar that voters in favor of leaving the EU were, by and large, hood-winked.

      I sincerely hope that voters and politicians within the UK make the effort to heal the rifts that have appeared. If you don’t, just look to the mess that is the US and you will see your future. Although dented and bettered, I have faith that people in the UK can see their way through this.

      • “I cannot recall who said that politics is the art of compromise”

        It was Woodrow Wilson who said that politics is the art of the possible.

  6. There’s a real political stalemate forming. I think it’s going to end up requiring an act of parliament to trigger Article 50. If that’s the case, I can hardly see a majority passing that act without a workable alternative arrangement already on the table. But Europe is not going to negotiate until the big red button has been pushed.

    Maybe I’m overly optimistic, but it might be that huge sweeping changes a slender majority of voters want can’t be enacted just by a referendum.

    • Legally, the referendum is not binding. Legally, there is no maximum time until article 50 is invoked even if the referendum were binding.

      Parliament voting to remain despite the referendum makes the referendum essentially useless (see my Five Rules for Sensible Referenda below). So while legally possible, it might give UKIP a huge majority in the next election.

      Personally, I think that, even if the referendum is not legally binding, since both sides said before that they would honour it, then they should.

      Multiplying the leave fraction with the turnout fraction and saying “there isn’t a majority for leave” is bullshit, pure and simple. First of all, one could, by the same token, argue that there is an even smaller fraction for remain. Second, those who didn’t vote said “I don’t care”. In elections generally, more yes than no is all that matters, regardless of the turnout.

      Yes, one can specify a minimum turnout (though this can lead to negative vote weight), or specify a minimum fraction, higher than 50 per cent, for something to pass (which makes sense only if pass means changing the status quo). However, neither of these were conditions for the referendum, and to demand them ex post facto is stupid, as is to demand another referendum.

      • Five Rules for Sensible Referenda:

        1. Referenda must be binding and details passed into law within a specified time.

        2. A referendum can be overturned only by another referendum.

        3. A referendum must stem from a popular initiative, requiring x signatures. (Of course, signatures must be checked and found to be genuine, not like the current petition (actually set up by someone from the leave camp a while ago) which has hundreds of thousands of signatures from North Korea and more from the Vatican than there are inhabitants there.)

        4. Both outcomes must be allowed by the constitution etc. If not, first a referendum is needed to change said constitution, etc. A court must decide this within a specified time when y signatures are reached, with y < x.

        5. The question posed must be principally a yes/no question. (All questions can be phrased as yes/no, and in all cases details will need to be implemented; the point is whether the yes/no aspect overrides everything else, which is the case for, say, EU membership but not for an EU constitution.)

      • Negative vote weight: Suppose 10 million turnout is required for the result to be binding. Suppose 9,999,990 have voted, with a huge majority in favour of yes (i.e. keep the status quo). The referendum does not pass. Suppose that 10 more have voted no: the referendum passes, even though the no fraction is larger than in the previous case.

      • I agree it’s politically difficult to vote remain. It’s much easier to vote ‘let’s wait until we’ve sorted the details’. Even Boris is making that case now.

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