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Saturday, 25 February 2017

Bremain vs Brexit in UK Parliament

On 23 June 2016, the results of the Brexit referendum were: 51.9% OUT versus 48.1% IN, based on a 72.2% voter turnout (BBC). Nevertheless, this almost 50/50 divide is not visible in UK Parliament. On 2 February 2017, out of 650 members, a large majority of the House of Commons voted in favour of triggering Article 50 of the EU Lisbon Treaty: 498 vs 114 (eg, Telegraph).

The composition of the 114 against triggering Article 50 is interesting: 50 from the Scottish National Party (SNP), 47 from Labour, 7 Liberal Democrats, 1 Tory, and 9 others (eg, Telegraph). Clearly, there is a serious mismatch between the UK population and its political representatives. In other words, the Bremain camp is not represented in UK Parliament. Why?

For the last 200 years, from 1800 to 2000, European politics have been divided in Left (Labour) and Right (Conservatives / UK Tories). Since 2000, European political parties are slowly rebranding themselves into Nationalist parties (eg, anti EU, anti globalism, anti immigrant, anti Islam, anti NATO) versus International oriented parties (eg, pro EU, pro NATO, pro international trade, pro migration, pro religious tolerance).

Interestingly, the 2 main political parties in the UK are making the same switch towards Nationalism at the same time. In my view, this simultaneous move explains the mismatch between population and Parliament. The Liberal Democrats are far too small to fill the gap on the International side, let alone the Scottish National Party (SNP). 

Tony Blair may have noticed this mismatch, including the interesting political opportunities which this political vacuum is offering. Telegraph: "In a keynote speech at the headquarters of the Bloomberg financial news agency in London, where David Cameron first set out his plan for an in/out vote on Britain's EU membership, he issued a rallying cry against the referendum vote which was "based on imperfect knowledge"."

In good British tradition, the media and fellow British politicians shot the messenger and piano player (Elton John album). This will not stop the music though. Tony Blair may not be the hero that the Bremain camp needs (Guardian) but at least he sees a genuine political opportunity. Essentially, UK Labour and UK Conservatives are both Nationalist parties (eg, anti EU-globalism-immigrant-Islam). Soon others will come to a similar conclusion.

The end of the great political divide between Left and Right (Economist, GPF, my 2016 blog, TED) has left lots of people confused. The Brexit outcome (ie, 51.9% leave vs 48.1% remain) underlines the new political divide between Nationalism and Internationalism. A larger UK voter turnout than the 72.2% would probably have flipped the Brexit outcome and would have obscured this new reality for another decade (see my 10 November 2016 blog).

The anti arguments of Nationalist parties are rooted in ignorance. Claiming the benefits of the enormous post-WW2 wealth increase resulting from Globalism (ie, Internationalism) may be viewed as arrogance. Internationalism's best argument will be Brexit's daftness. Hence, the EU immediately rejected Tony Blair's appeal. It's in the EU's best interest to let the UK suffer.

Should I Stay or Should I Go (1982) by The Clash - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

It's always tease tease tease
You're happy when I'm on my knees
One day is fine and next is black
So if you want me off your back
Well come on an' let me know
Should I Stay or should I go?