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    • Sounds like the vote was indeed a resounding rejection of Theresa May's proposal ("the heaviest parliamentary defeat of any British prime minister in the democratic era") and now a no confidence vote is on the table:

      This is frustrating and confusing to watch from across the pond, since even the opposition parties still seem to want to steam ahead with Brexit in some form or another, which can only end in disaster. It's like quibbling over whether or not to roll the windows down in a car that's barreling toward a cliff at full speed.

      Am I a dumb American for sitting over here thinking, "why not just...not Brexit?"

      It seems so clear now that the original pro-Brexit campaign was based on a bunch of false premises and that the public was largely misled. The referendum was non-binding. Why is the government so determined to drive directly off this cliff?

    • Quite a bit of the not wanting to just stop the process is due to the parties not wanting to overturn "democracy" and the outcome of the referendum.
      However, a several of the parties, like the Liberal Democrats, the SNP, and quite a lot of MPs in the Labour party (though not the official position of the party itself) are calling for a second referendum so that the people can choose whether to go through with it or not; this is seen as more democratic rather than just stopping it

    • Thanks. Very helpful. I had the impression that the British public didn’t want Brexit anymore, but according to Bloomberg public sentiment hasn’t shifted much. I had the same question as Ryan, why not remain, but Bloomberg makes it sound like the divisions are really deep

    • Seems odd that Bloomberg characterizes the results of that poll as "the country hasn't shifted significantly" when it shows that the country has flipped from majority leave to majority remain.

      Leaving means wrecking the UK's economy and creating huge social and political problems that will take decades — maybe even generations — to deal with. Staying means...not doing that.

      That difference seems incredibly significant to me, even if the margin of support is small. 🤔

    • Twitter user @jonworth created this helpful and depressing "What happens next?" flowchart for Brexit. We're currently at the "No Confidence Vote" box in the middle that all those arrows are pointing to.

    • The whole situation is complex, I personally think that there is a lot of of dislike for the "current deal", but still a desire to leave Europe, which may make the polling more confusing in general.

      The Guardian's editorial on the current situation may also help shed some light on where things are at.

    • Brexit is basically a case of old people sticking it to the young, the same way that climate change denial is doing worldwide. Old people, stuck in the 'good old days', when Britain was a world power, unable to grasp the changing world and UK's position in it have gotten sold on a lie than EU is the root of all evils and they'll be better off without it. Not that the EU is perfect, but a better alternative doesn't exist. EU needs to be reformed, not destroyed.

      Being a European (and not from the UK), I'm kinda ambivalent about Brexit. On one hand, I'm really sorry for all the young people in the UK that will live with the consequences of this terrible self-own. On the other hand, the British (or, more precisely, the English) were never really committed to the idea of the EU, and always demanded (and gotten) special treatment and exceptions to the rules and for that, I'd be glad to see them out. If nothing, then in time when the young, overwhelmingly pro-EU, finally get into power they will be ready to join the EU on an equal footing.

      Interesting times ahead, in any case.

    • I appreciate your thoughts shared; as a former european and perhaps some day returning if I'll see old age being better off spent in what may still be at least a bit remaining of the old familiar places and society. One interesting recollection I have is visiting Switzerland more than a decade ago, and the chat I had with a cab driver, about how adamant they were about remaining independent. I am not much of an expert outside of my own interpretation of available facts. But what I do sense is an overall state of things in the world today is that there is futile resistance to the nature of things. Which in my opinion, is well described by Pascal's law.

      "Pascal's law is a principle in fluid mechanics that states that pressure at a point, has infinite direction, and thus a pressure change at any point in a confined incompressible fluid is transmitted throughout the fluid such that the same change occurs everywhere."

      A picture is worth a thousand words (no need to read formulas or even consider the forces, just think how liquids level tends to equalize everywhere and expand that to the concepts of society, once a way was open, there may be no going back to put the genie in the bottle)

    • There is a flip from majority leave to majority remain - but either way, the majority that exists is something like the smallest possible (50+x, x<<10), and thus very fragile and weak to random mood changes.

      I was shocked two years ago to learn that they would go through with Brexit with just a simple majority and no quorum(?) - and I'd imagine that nearly half of the voters will be pissed after a second referendum as well, no matter the actual outcome.

      I guess the lesson to be learned here is to never allow for things of this scale to be decided by a simple majority, and instead ask for some sort of qualified majority (like 3/5 or 2/3 of votes), or alternatively for a simple majority of potential voters.

    • In the long run, it might turn out that European integration is more successful without the UK. As you said, the UK has received special treatment (waivers for Schengen, Euro, and more). If they leave now, it is doubtful that they will ever be permitted to rejoin with the same special treatment.

    • Yes, I agree that it is absurd to decide matters of tremendous national import by simple majority. The UK joined the EU after 67% voted in favor in the 1975 referendum, which was a lot more convincing. Now it's true that referendum results aren't legally binding in the UK (they're 'consultations') but no sane politician would attempt to override the results, no matter how small the margin. Thus there is a good case to be made for insisting on some sort of super-majority decision rule.

    • Quite a bit of the not wanting to just stop the process is due to the parties not wanting to overturn "democracy" and the outcome of the referendum.

      I don't think democracy requires that a question be asked once and only once. That's why we have regular elections. I think people who claim it's undemocratic to have another vote are really just afraid that this time they will lose.

    • In the US, something that changes the fabric of our foundations requires a 2/3 vote approval by both the House and Senate plus be ratified by 3/4 of the 50 state legislatures. (source)

      If exiting Brexit wasn’t considered to be at that seismic level of impact, I would be seriously concerned about the impending system shocks created by the next majority-passed initiative.

    • Oh no, I would fully expect them to go to the back of the queue and go through the process all over again. My memory is still fresh from the accession process my country (Croatia) had to go through in the early 2000s. It's, well... a humbling experience. :-) They would benefit from it.

    • In my opinion, one of the best ideas to improve the world in general is to revoke the voting rights of the over-65 population. They won't be around to live with the consequences of their choices, so they shouldn't be able to impose them on those that will.

      As that idea is apparently pretty unpopular, the next best thing is to get the younger voters to actually participate in the voting. Not an easy task either. :-(

    • I'm torn about the over 65 vote idea because some of the olds remember that polio and smallpox were a thing but they're probably a lot less socially progressive, no?

      Actually, do we have data to indicate if they are more left or right in other countries besides the U.S.?

      As far as getting young people out to vote, Trump seemed to have more success with that than any other U.S. president.

    • Thanks for posting this Richard. As a UK resident, and a middle aged one at that, perhaps my perspective might be of interest.

      I think the basic point to remember is that the UK referendum was not a vote to leave Europe (which is how some more hysterical pundits seems to paint it). Rather, it was a vote to leave the political construct of the European Union.

      The EU has always been a polarising institution. It was, and is, a wholly political creation. Nothing wrong with that, as anyone who values even standards would admit. However, I believe the widening between the polar opposites began to widen with the creation of the single currency which, from a basic economics perspective just does not work in either concept or practice. Whilst capital has proved itself enviably mobile, the other factors of production have not. Mass migration does not prove that labour is mobile.

      Each country in the EU has its own "character", for want of a better phrase. Because of this, and the lack of factor of production mobility, locking members into a single currency could only ever create the fiscal instability we have seen, with northern Europe running large trade surpluses, and several southern states building up serious deficits. Unable to allow their currencies to depreciate (as would have been the case pre Euro), the members will continue to diverge in this sense.

      My feeling is the same as many here; the EU is an admirable idea but imperfectly executed and administered. Reform is necessary, but the bureaucrats in Brussels seem unwilling in this respect. Maybe the UK has to leave in order to create the pressure for future reforms...

    • I'm kinda skeptical about that 'EU countries characters' being a problem. The differences are obvious, but I wouldn't say they are greater than for example between Florida, Alaska, New York or Texas, or more of a burden (xenophobic sentiments aside).

      I do agree there was definitely a problem with single monetary policy, in as much as it was mostly dictated by Germany and France (for their benefit), to the detriment of the EU south. But that could have been different, even with a single currency. Strict austerity measures, which weren't necessary and caused a lot of grief and distress, could have easily been imposed even with separated currencies (look, for example, at the MMF policies towards the global South).

    • There is room, always, for interpretation of the facts. I would simply point out that in the case of Florida, Alaska, etc., there was at least a common language at hand. Much of the problem with mobility of factors of production is created by a multiplicity of languages. An UK person cannot, realistically, consider relocating to - say - Greece to work and live without learning Greek to quite a sophisticated level. Cultural separations become easier to overcome (indeed, they can quickly become "quirky" or "charming"), provided they can be explained or described efficiently through a common language.

      On the currency matter, with local sovereign currencies the ability to re-balance through currency depreciation helps a great deal to limit the levels of austerity required.

      The EU has evolved from a free trade area to a more federal proposition. This is partly the cause of the antipathy from some quarters. Interestingly, despite the pro Euro comments from politicians, it is widely held that if referenda were to be held in the other EU member countries there is a tangible risk that they would vote to leave the EU also. The widening gap between electorate and government across the region is worrying, and suggests that the political classes are losing the faith and support of their voters.

      It is difficult to watch this playing out, without any real ability to affect the outcome. Overall I am disappointed with the UK parliament, who have behaved in a shifty manner whichever camp you support.

    • Thanks, @Chris. You can always count on John Oliver for great gallows humor.

      It's looking pretty grim at the moment. While it's always possible that the MPs will come to their senses before it's too late, the TLDR guys just posted this game theoretic analysis that points to a no deal resolution:

      I don't think prisoner's dilemma exactly applies here, as there will most certainly be communication among the MPs, which violates the assumptions of the game. However, one can see how that logic might influence some members. No deal seems too bad to be true, but then, there weren't any good arguments for WW I either.

    • I'm travelling around the UK at the moment and in talking to a lot of people the consensus seems to be that people mostly care a lot less about which way it goes, they just want a decision made so they can get on with it one way or the other.

    • Further thoughts, as a citizen of a Commonwealth nation I kind of hope Brexit goes through.

      Since Great Britain joined the EU it's relationships with it's Commonwealth partners have ranked a very distant 2nd to those of the EU. If Brexit goes ahead it's possible that Great Britain will re-seek stronger relationships with it's fellow Commonwealth nations.

      Oh, and....