Friday, 24 June 2016

EU Referendum: London and a Future Commonwealth

The first basic rights in a democracy must be the right of people to elect those who make their laws and the right to remove them. 
Those rights had been denied to the British people for 43 years by the complex structures and anti-democratic institutions that saw a Common Market mutate into a European Union superstate.
Hence, lashed by mid-summer rain, 17,410,742 British people (52% of voters) exercised a much-delayed and long-promised democratic right to vote to ‘Leave’ the European Union.
Their 'Brexit' choice ought not to be so surprising. 
Frustration marked with a cross in a box.
For decades, successive ideologically driven neo-liberal Conservative and New Labour governments presided over the deliberate destruction of the UK's manufacturing base, destroying communities in the process.
The EU did nothing to halt this destruction - and its corporate free market process fuelled it.
So, the 'Leave' vote has been a light-sleeper for the past 30 years. 


The referendum shows people still understandably vote with one hand on their wallets and purses.
Londoners inside the London economic bubble voted 60-40 to ‘Remain’.
But white working class people struggling inside a low-wage economy in the North, Midlands and Wales swung the UK out of the EU.
They don't believe the EU offers economic security or better life chances. 
They ignored crude ‘Remain’ campaign threats that economic meltdown, financial Armageddon and armed conflict will result from a ‘Leave’ vote.
More subtle propaganda has come out of North Korea. 

What next? 
Hence, the British people’s troubled historical relationship with Europe enters another uncertain phase.
So, what next?
Londoners aside, the British people have decisively rejected any withering idea that the EU could be democratically reformed. An honest and open United States of Europe, with an elected President and Congress, now seems a dead duck.
German and French corporate interests dominate the EU.  
An unelected European Commission still prevails in Brussels.
Far-right nationalism scapegoats refugees and seeks race, civil and interstate war.
Greek, Spanish and Portuguese economies, bullied by the EU's dominant bankers and politicians, teeter over a precipice of meltdown and bailout.
The entire EU edifice looks very shaky.
It isn’t surprising that citizens of the UK and other European countries don’t like being subjects of the EU.
Referendum contagion across the EU might ensue.
The EU house looks set to stagger and crumble.

A brighter future, though, remains possible.
An alternative could be that the UK harmonises economic, trading, education and cultural exchange relationships with EU, European and other nations across the world – each relationship agreed with the consent of the British people through Parliament.
A negotiated peace with Russia would also bring major dividends.

Inevitably, all of this would be a slower process but would prove more durable, rewarding and moral.
Britain, of course, already has a Commonwealth, that emerged after the decline and fall of the British Empire.
But Britain largely turned its back on the Commonwealth.
And London turned its back on the rest of the UK.
India/Pakistan and Bangladesh, South Africa, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the West Indian nations will need to forgive Britain and appreciate the mutual trading and cultural opportunities that can arise.
And, Londoners will also need to forge new economic links with the rest of England, Wales, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  
It's time for us to forget the crumbling EU - and move on and embrace a wider world of opportunities and hope.

© Paul Coleman, London Intelligence, June 2016

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