Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Bigger fish than Brexit

I will, in due course, explain how and why the EU has been so quick and firm on a hard Brexit. In the meantime, if you have been following the FT series of articles I linked to in my previous post, you will not have been surprised by the news on the radio yesterday morning, based on what the Frankfurter Allgemeine says here (and see the Telegraph here), about Juncker, Merkel and May. It is more of the same. The EU has its ways and it is not prepared to be flexible for the UK's benefit. You may recall the last time the UK had a negotiation with the UK: David Cameron was laughed at for his baseless optimism and didn't get very far. Expect more of the same.

But on to the bigger fish. I have not forgotten that this blog is also your go-to guide to predictions of the forthcoming apocalypse for Western liberalism.

One straw in that ill wind is the current French Presidential election. Ross Douthat (who is utterly sane) asks why one should not vote for Le Pen ("the case for #NeverLePen seems weaker in important ways than the case for #NeverTrump"), and so does Noah Millman.

In any event, apres Macron, le deluge: "Macron will have to (in the quite short span of five years) fundamentally reform heretofore unreformable French society, and do so without any sort of parliamentary majority. Add in the tragic reality that France will probably endure another major terrorist attack or so per year over the next five years, and the far more likely political risk outcome is that, by the end of his term, Macron will not have significantly lifted France’s economic growth numbers, or made the French feel more safe. // That is what Le Pen and the FN are betting on, and frankly, it seems the most likely outcome. She has always been playing for the next French election, not this one." It's hard to see the flaw in that analysis. You know the plot of Soumission? Well ...

And so to bigger things. Europe is committing suicide and we are about to see the fall of the global elite, or perhaps even enter the Age of War and Revolution.

Britain is more fortunate than its neighbours in having Brexit to worry about. As I have said before, the battle of Brexit (what it means? should we really be doing it?) is a battle fought between supporters of Western liberalism. Theresa May and Tony Blair, David Cameron and Boris Johnson - the UK appears constitutionally unable to produce anyone more radical than Jeremy Corbyn or Nigel Farage, neither of whom is at all scary. Look at our General Election: the two main parties fussing about VAT and police numbers. It's the good old days all over again. Compare that with Trump and Le Pen. The fact that it is ultimately a waste of time for the British commentariat to fight the Brexit wars (because we'll get what we're given) is by the by: every day spent arguing that the Single Market is the be-all and end-all of British political life is a day in which liberalism gets a further chance to show that it can resolve the problems of mass population movements and lack of widely-shared economic growth that are otherwise liable to kill it. At the very least, if Britain is still arguing about VAT rates when a big country tries an alternative to liberalism, we will get the chance to see whether the alternative is any better.

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