Tag Archives: Brexit

Lessons on democracy from Brexit

It took British youth just hours to go to the barricades once it became clear that the decisive votes for Brexit stemmed from the country’s elderly. How could those who might not live to experience the full consequences of a Brexit be allowed to decide on it? As much as I sympathize with this sentiment of betrayal and loss, I cannot help seeing the irony in their behaviour: a generation that sees the state as the solution for nearly everything is shocked by how democracy can work against certain groups.

Democracy has brought great benefits to our societies. At the same time, democratic decision-making, whether through parliament or direct referenda, has always been about favouring a majority opinion over a minority. Taking away the rights of one group on behalf of another is not the antidote of democracy; it is endogenous. Contrary to popular narrative, democracy never meant freedom from being ruled; it just changed the rules of who is allowed to infringe and curtail on your freedoms. By handing these powers to a government that people could to a certain extent codecide on, it further legitimized this behaviour, styling it as self-rule, and thus as just.

It amazes me that people are now demanding an end to public referenda after their loss, or advocate the withdrawal of voting rights for the elderly. It makes me wonder where their sense of entitlement comes from. Maybe they would do good to reflect on the virtues and vices of democracy as a whole. A reflection might help them understand that the vices are not old people, but rather the general mindset that (electoral) majorities can dictate how others live their lives and infringe on their rights.

Continue reading at CapX.

Hillary Clinton, Europe, And The New Era Of Kings

Today, presumptive presidential nominee Hillary Clinton breathes a little easier. Two weeks ago, her husband met Attorney General Loretta Lynch on a tarmac in Phoenix. While Republicans have cried foul, and Lynch herself has acknowledged the rendezvous to be in poor judgment, it is hard to shake the icky feeling that someone’s been suborned.

Let’s credit Bill and Loretta, though, and say this isn’t a House of Cards-style intrigue. Fine. But most people aren’t let off so easy. Consider the zealots who work at the Department of Justice and the low threshold they set for prosecution. Federal prosecutors believe that tossing a red grouper off of the side of a boat is destruction of evidence, and they’re willing to defend that lunacy all the way to the Supreme Court. It’s reasonable to believe, then, that anyone besides the Baroness of Clintonia would be indicted for risking state secrets.

When people of pedigree and power receive superior treatment under a separate law structure, this is a feature of aristocracy. When the privileged few receiving this treatment are running the country, this looks more like monarchy.

Neo-monarchism favors the few over the many, federal power over local control, bureaucrats over business owners. It puts control in the hands of elites, and exempts them from the law. And when those new monarchs choose the law they do desire, which is invariably a law that the citizens reject, neo-monarchism demands complete enforcement so that free choice is eliminated. Continue Reading

The UK should lead the EU, not leave it

If latest polls are to be believed, we may indeed be facing a European divorce next Thursday — something that probably neither David Cameron nor Europe as a whole would have conceived as possible just months ago. While debates over possible domino effects that would further threaten European post-Brexit unity are abound, one point seems often to be forgotten. Namely, the British debate on EU reform has also helped Europe, especially if Britain will decide to remain.

While Cameron achieved very little in his initial renegotiations, the ensuing debate on the future of the EU did create a massive intergovernmental momentum towards EU reform. Should the UK decide to leave now, it throws away the unique opportunity to head a large-scale reform of the European project — a reform that could ideally end with a “Europe of multiple speeds” where states can opt for their desired level of integration, finally settling the age-old debates about a European superstate. A reformed EU ought to strike the right balance between Europhilia and Euroscepticism, and British membership is key to this.

As a reminder, when Cameron initially pushed for disintegration in 2015, the UK’s demand for a Europe a la carte was widely perceived as lacking European solidarity. Yet persistent debates on challenges like economic crises, immigration, the democratic deficit and ineffective EU decision-making has left Euroscepticism deeply embedded in many member states. The political tide has turned. Instead of just accepting initial British demands, member states are now making calls for wide-reaching EU reform themselves.

Besides Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia pushing for EU reform, Denmark and the Netherlands have had referenda on EU justice cooperation and Ukraine respectively. Euroscepticism in the former is striking, with  44% of Danish citizens favoring a British-style referendum on EU membership. On a wider level, polls in ten European states show that the numbers of those supporting a return of powers from Brussels to national capitals today is twice as high as their opponents, with 42% for devolution versus only 19% for further centralization of powers. That’s not to forget the surge of Eurosceptic populism in the Mediterranean region.

Even in the supranational stronghold of Brussels, the mood seems to have changed. European Council President Donald Tusk calls for an end of “utopian dreams” on integration, Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem demands a halt to EU enlargement, and liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt proposes a clear separation between those member states who favour more integration, and those who merely want a “Europe light.” In European Parliament, the anti-federalist European Conservatives and Reformists have developed into the third biggest group just seven years after its founding.  Continue Reading

Obama is wrong to discourage Brexit

London Mayor Boris Johnson has accused President Obama of “naked hypocrisy” for his opposition to UK independence from the EU—noting that the US refuses to even “sign up to the international convention on the law of the seas.”

Obama has previously warned Britons that a British exit from the EU, known colloquially as ‘Brexit’, would harm their “special relationship” with the United States—a position he is expected to reiterate in a London town hall meeting during his visit to the UK.

Boris Johnson, a US citizen by birth, is right to call out hypocrisy. But the biggest problem with Obama’s view is that it’s wrong; American interests would benefit from an independent UK.

Read the rest on CapX, here.