quinta-feira, 15 de junho de 2017
Thanks, Brits – Brexit has vaccinated Europe against populism / Brexit Is Dead. A Wave of Anger Crashes over Britain
Henrietta Norton and Dan Dennison have travelled around the country to meet a selection of the majority of British citizens who voted to leave the European Union and ask them not only why they voted out but what their hopes are for a post-Brexit Britain
Thanks, Brits – Brexit has vaccinated Europe against populism
Even after the election we don’t know what you want. But your act of self-harm has brought the EU’s members together, and dealt heavy blows to nationalists
Jean Quatremer is Brussels correspondent of Libération
Thursday 15 June 2017 13.08 BST
Watching Brexit unfold is such a pleasure. One year on from the referendum of 23 June 2016, it is now clear that what we predicted is coming true: leaving the European Union is exceptionally difficult (assuming it is even possible), carries an undeniable cost, and plays havoc with the politics of the country attempting it – as the fiasco of Britain’s snap election, on 8 June, amply demonstrates.
That’s why I was in favour of a victory for leave: it would mean all the Europhobes and Eurosceptics of the union would see their dreams shatter on the brick wall of reality. So I would like to express my profound gratitude to the British people, who have once more demonstrated a spirit of sacrifice that is greatly to their credit. Thanks to them, the people of Europe will be vaccinated against populist adventurism for some time to come.
In fact, the victory for Brexit (and for its little brother, Donald Trump) has already had an extremely positive impact on the old continent, which is now finally insulated by a particularly thick fog from a UK high as a kite on nationalism: populist parties have been dealt heavy blows in Austria, the Netherlands, France and Italy, where the Five Star Movement has just been routed in municipal elections.
As for my own country, until recently the target of much mocking laughter across the Channel, it’s plain the presidential election of 9 May that sent Emmanuel Macron, the most pro-European of all the candidates, into the Elysée on 66% of the vote was a clear rejection of the “Frexit” proposed by the Front National (the victory of which, incidentally, the most ardent Brexiteers had called for).
The French may not fully support everything the EU does, and that’s perfectly normal, but they steered clear of what the Germans might call the Sonderweg – going it alone. And some FN officials have already got the message: since French voters do not want to abandon the euro or leave the EU, they now want to drop that part of the far-right party’s programme, at the risk of its possible disintegration.
Undeniably, Brexit has acted as a deterrent, accomplishing the not insignificant feat of uniting the Europeans as never before. Because for the past year, the British political class – both those who campaigned for leave and those, like Theresa May, who initially backed remain but then gave up the fight against a decision that plainly threatens British interests – have revealed their complete recklessness.
It is now obvious that there was not a plan A, or a plan B, or a plan C
It is now obvious that there was not a plan A, or a plan B, or a plan C, as the government’s incapacity to begin negotiations with a clear strategy demonstrates. The 27 member states, in a hurry to get the whole thing over with, still have not the slightest clue what London wants or how exactly it intends to sever the UK’s extremely complex, 44 year-old legal ties with the EU.
After the rebuff of May’s government and of Ukip during in the election, some Conservatives are now even touting a “soft” Brexit as a way of respecting the wishes of voters who, by not giving their party a clear majority, seem to have rejected the “hard” Brexit that May was proposing – at a time when Britain’s American ally has become completely unpredictable and the world has not looked so unstable since the 1930s.
So what exactly is the difference between “hard” and “soft”? If I’ve got it right (and I speak carefully, given the intellectual morass Britain seems to have got itself into), it boils down to staying in the customs union or even the single market so as not to harm foreign trade and British business. At worst, that’s the Turkey option (the customs union), and at best the Norway (European Economic Area) or Switzerland (bilateral agreements) option.
But the Turkey option means allowing the EU to conclude free-trade agreements in Britain’s name, and the EEA option means accepting all the rules of the single market, including free movement of people, the jurisdiction of the European court of justice, and even a contribution to the EU budget equivalent to what the UK pays today. And all of that, of course, without having the least say in the texts negotiated and agreed in Brussels …
Here we near the sublime: Brexit could amount simply to Britain losing its influence in Brussels, giving up its voice – basically, surrendering its sovereignty without benefiting from any shared sovereignty to limit the coming economic disaster. That’s what’s called political and diplomatic suicide, especially when you remember the unique position the UK had managed to carve itself out in the EU and its influence in Brussels.
Now we can really see why the citizens of the old continent are not too keen on following Britain’s example. And we can understand, too, why all of Europe is quietly sniggering at the sorry spectacle of the worn-out old British lion: this week, Emmanuel Macron even allowed himself the luxury of reminding Theresa May, during her visit to Paris, that “the door will stay open, as long as the negotiations are not over”.
But if it does decide to stay, Britain will never recover the position it once had. Ridicule, after all, always has a price. Might it not be better to consider paying it, rather than commit such an extraordinary act of national self-harm?
Brexit Is Dead
A Wave of Anger Crashes over Britain
Europe used to have a fearful respect of the Tories. But those days have long since passed. Now, the weakened party may have accidentally killed off Brexit -- a pet project that most party leaders didn't want in the first place.
© An Editorial by Thomas Hüetlin
June 15, 2017 06:00 PM
Once upon a time, under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher, the Tories filled all of Europe with trepidation. French President François Mitterrand complained to his psychologist that he was plagued by nightmares caused by the British leader and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, as unclassified British documents revealed in late 2016, once preferred to chow down on a cream pie in Salzburg than meet with the British prime minister.
Many in the UK thought a bit of fear was a good thing. Fear sounded like respect and influence -- and, more than anything, like good deals. But now, after two catastrophic elections in less than a year, that is over. Completely.
"The country looks ridiculous," the Financial Times -- not exactly a leftist mouthpiece -- wrote recently. Indeed, the party of Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher has turned into a gaggle of high rollers and unwitting clowns.
First came Boris Johnson, who vociferously supported Brexit last year to show his boss, Prime Minister David Cameron, what an outstanding orator he was even though he, Johnson, didn't really want Brexit. They both went all in, and the country lost.
And now we have Theresa May, who didn't really want Brexit either, but decided after last summer's referendum to throw her support behind leaving the European Union if it meant that she could become prime minister.
"The lady's not for turning," is one of the more famous quotes uttered by Margaret Thatcher. But her heirs currently leading the Tories are now turning so quickly that many observers aren't just getting dizzy. They are becoming nauseous.
Incompetently Cool and Calculating
Great Britain may be an island, but economically it is the most interconnected country in Europe: The financial center in London, the country's carmakers, what's left of British industry and even the country's infrastructure. France delivers electricity, water sanitation facilities in southern England belong to Germans and large airports such as Heathrow are owned by Spaniards. One quarter of the doctors who keep afloat the NHS -- Britain's comparatively deficient health care system -- come from the Continent.
The promise of Brexit was steeped in ideology from the very beginning, a fairy tale based on dark chauvinism. The Spanish Armada, Napoleon, Hitler and now the Polish plumbers who allegedly push down wages -- when in reality they ensured that, after decades of lukewarmly dripping showers, the country's bathrooms gradually returned to functionality. Brexit was never a particularly good idea. Now, following the most recent election, Brexit is defunct. That, at least, is what a member of Theresa May's cabinet intimated last weekend. "In practical terms, Brexit is dead," an unnamed minister told the Financial Times.
If she weren't so incompetently cool and calculating, one could almost pity Theresa May. Even as her supposed allies begin sharpening their knives at home, Brexit negotiations are set to begin in Brussels next week. And she also has to find time for a bit of begging at the door of a former party to the civil conflict in Northern Ireland known as the Troubles, the Ulster Unionist Party, so that she can have them sign a coalition agreement. Anything at all would be fine, as long as she can continue to govern.
It won't be a hard Brexit. The best case is a soft Brexit, which would mean that the UK could remain a part of the common market, but that the government would have to accept immigration from Europe and regulations from Brussels -- without having a vote in the EU. To paraphrase May, this would indeed be a bad deal, but still better than no deal at all -- the scenario she threatened when she still had a comfortable majority in the House of Commons.
Investors hate nothing more than uncertainty, but that is exactly what experts are predicting for Britain in the coming years. Uncertainty combined with stunted growth, less trade, higher taxes and worse national health care.
As things look now, last week's election was only the first wave of anger that is currently breaking over the country. The worse the times get, the more powerful it will become. And in a few years, it is almost certain that there will be a government interested in rejoining the EU. Which is possible, but the conditions offered are almost sure to be worse.