Brexit’s Imperial Nostalgia

Anis Chowdhuryand Jomo Kwame Sundaram confront the notion that British rule helped “develop” the empire.

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram in Kuala Lumpur
 Anis Chowdhury in Sydney
Inter Press Service

As the possible implications of Britain’s self-imposed “no-deal” exit from the European Union loom larger, a new round of imperial nostalgia has come alive.

After turning its back on the Commonwealth since the Thatcherite 1980s, some British Conservative Party leaders are seeking to revive colonial connections in increasingly desperate efforts to avoid self-inflicted marginalization following divorce from its European Union neighbors across the Channel.

Part of the new Brexit induced neo-imperial mythology is that its colonies did not provide any significant economic benefit to Britain itself. Instead, it is suggested that colonial administrations were run at great cost to Britain itself.

The empire, it is even claimed, was long maintained due to a benevolent imperial sense of responsibility. To revive patron-client relations neglected with the turn to Europe in the 1980s, the new mantra is that British rule helped ‘develop’ the empire.

As the sun never set on Britain’s far flung empire, acquired by diverse means for different reasons at various points in time, few generalizations are appropriate. Nevertheless, there is already significant research indicating otherwise for many colonies, but India, of course, was the jewel in the crown.

Flags of the Commonwealth in Parliament Square, London (Wikimedia)

Flags of the Commonwealth in Parliament Square, London. (Wikimedia)

Empire Strikes Back

Former Indian foreign minister Shashi Tharoor has debunked many imperial apologetic claims, including those made by former Oxford and Harvard historian Niall Ferguson. Probably the most prominent, Ferguson famously insisted decades ago that countries progressed thanks to imperialism in an influential TV series and coffee table book sponsored by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), “Empire.”

Malaysian Sultan Nazrin Shah’s Oxford University Press book has underscored the crucial contribution of colonial Malayan commodity exports in the first four decades of the 20th century, while other scholarship has shown that post-war British recovery depended crucially on the export earnings’ contribution of its Southeast Asian colony.

Less well known is Utsa Patnaik’s painstaking work on nearly two centuries of tax and trade data. She estimates that Britain drained nearly $45 trillion from the Indian subcontinent between 1765 and 1938, equivalent to 17 times the United Kingdom’s current gross domestic product.

Colonial Surplus 

After the English East India Company gained control of and monopolized Indian external trade, EIC traders “bought” Indian goods with tax revenue collected from them. After the British crown displaced the EIC in 1847, its monopoly broke down, and traders had to pay London in gold to get rupees to pay Indian producers.

An East India Company coin, struck in 1835. (Wikimedia)

An East India Company coin, struck in 1835. (Wikimedia)

Under imperial monetary arrangements, the colonies’ export earnings were considered British, and hence booked as a deficit in their own “national” accounts despite their often large trade surpluses with the rest of the world until the Great Depression.

Thus, the empire has been depicted by imperial apologists as liabilities to Britain, with India having to borrow from Britain to finance its own imports. Thus, India remained in debt to and thus “bonded” by debt to Britain.

Not surprisingly, two centuries of British rule did not raise Indian per capita income significantly. In fact, income fell by half in the last half of the 19th century while average life expectancy dropped by a fifth between 1870 and 1920! Infamously, tens of millions died due to avoidable famines induced by colonial policy decisions, including the two Bengal famines.

Slavery Too

Britain used such fraudulent gains for many purposes, including further colonial expansion, first in Asia and later in Africa. Taxpayers in the colonies thus paid not only for the administration of their own exploitation, but also for imperial expansion elsewhere, including Britain’s wars.

Early accumulation for Britain’s Industrial Revolution depended significantly on such colonial arrangements. Imperial tribute financed the expansion of colonialism and investments abroad, including the European settler colonies.

Not unlike Eduardo Galeano’s magnum opus, “Open Veins of Latin America,” Walter Rodney’s 1972 classic, “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” showed how slavery and other imperial economic policies transformed, exploited and brutalized Africa.

In The Empire Pays Back,” Robert Beckford estimated that Britain should pay a whopping £7.5 trillion in reparations for its role in the transatlantic slave trade, breaking it down as follows: £4 trillion in unpaid wages, £2.5 trillion for unjust enrichment and £1 trillion for pain and suffering.

Britain has made no apology for slavery or colonialism, as it has done for the Irish potato famine. There has been no public acknowledgement of how wealth extracted through imperialism made possible the finance, investment, manufacturing, trade and prosperity of modern Britain.

With Brexit imminent, a renewed narrative and discourse of imperial nostalgia has emerged, articulated, inter alia, in terms of a return to the Commonwealth, long abandoned by Maggie Thatcher. Hence, well over half of those surveyed in U.K. actually believe that British imperialism was beneficial to the colonies.

This belief is not only clearly self-deluding, but also obscures Britain’s neo-colonial scramble for energy and mineral resources, enhanced role as tax haven for opportunistic finance, as well as its continued global imperial leadership, albeit only in a fading, supporting role to the U.S. as part of its “special relationship.”

Anis Chowdhury is adjunct professor at Western Sydney University and the University of New South Wales (Australia). He has held senior United Nations positions in New York and Bangkok.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a former economics professor, was United Nations assistant secretary-general for economic development, and received the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought in 2007.

47 comments for “Brexit’s Imperial Nostalgia

  1. Virginia
    March 21, 2019 at 12:36

    CN needs a new article on BREXIT. There’s been much news of late, including UK Parliament not allowing another vote on May’s deal unless with substantive changes. The bottom line is, Britain voted to leave. Parliament has so far circumvented doing so by clouding an exit with trying to guarantee the EU some continued jurisdiction. (Where was that in the referendum?) If May and parliament get their way, who wins? — The Deep State, the Globalist, the Internationalists, the One World Order. Their agenda will not have been interrupted at all. Whom are the PMs working for? … What do you think?

  2. elmerfudzie
    March 19, 2019 at 21:40

    The Panama Papers signaled a need for radical change(s) to the EU banking laws. Hiding money, legit or not from, fair and open taxation, has become increasingly difficult for the upper crust, especially those financial wizards inside the CBD enclaves of London. Old money and new moneyed English folks who stashed their loot in Europe must now find the “New Switzerland” or a “New Cayman Islands” to hide it all from the tax man.
    Thus, the Brexit plan was hatched, not for reasons that point to helping the common Englishman or strengthen sovereign rights and fair labor practices but to escape the prying eyes of financial auditors who are now armed with new and stronger statutory law. No more “trusts” without names or owners. The elite are surely on the run now and I can’t wish them any luck..

  3. André Brochu
    March 19, 2019 at 18:58

    It is not as if British and French neo-colonialism have been eradicated by membership in the EU. I share Sundaram and Chowdury ‘s critique of imperialism and its crimes but not the notion of Brexit as imperial nostalgia.
    I have read the comments and especially K and Bartoo make some good points. Just after the Brexit referendum John Pilger and Mike Carter wrote excellent articles explaining the results of the Brexit referendum. Pilger called it an act of raw democracy. The
    British parliament and the major parties have failed in completing the Brexit process. When Brexit is finalized in one form or other that it is when the future begins. What is the future of the UK ? It is strongly linked to the hopes of the people in the Midlands and the north. The strongest vote for Brexit was in the nation of Wales. What about that majority’s aspirations? I would hope that Labour
    and Corbyn would pull it off but I have my doubts now and I have written the following to a good friend in the USA :

    Corbyn has had his back up against the wall with spurious charges of anti-Semitism and the
    factionalism of the Blairites. However, that is no excuse for temporary insanity. Now Jeremy has possibly caved in on Brexit to “save the Party”. Will there be a party to save?

    Brexit is the fork in the road and I suspect the damn fool won’t wake up and take the best path. Instead he wets his finger and sees how the wind is blowing, the meteorology of opportunism. The best path means seeing that Brexit is pursued to a point of no return to the EU leviathan. Then Jeremy and what’s left of the party (most of it because it would have a strong class base) would be credible to the backbone of Brexit, the people of the Midlands and the North who have suffered most under Thatcherism and Blairism. It wouldn’t be the New Jerusalem but should be a commitment to the best of a modern version of Aneurin Bevanism

    Without EU fiscal restraints and with a parliamentary majority Keynesian policies could be given a priority.

    Soon there is a march of Brexiters starting from northern England to Westminister . Hopefully its ranks will swell as they approach London. This is the last chance for Corbyn to mount his steed.

    • DW Bartoo
      March 20, 2019 at 14:22

      Your assessment of Corbyn’s situation is spot on, Andre.

      One hopes the many will press relentlessly for new elections and that Corbyn will rise to the propitious moment.

    March 19, 2019 at 15:24

    I believe that many in England think that Queen Victoria can be resurrected and the great Empire will automatically follow.
    I have heard some Brits angrily complain about being victimized by the EU not bothering to look at the great benefits.
    With Brexit many Brits seem to believe the World Wars did not matter but with Brexit Britain concedes power in Europe to Germany
    nullifying the results of those Wars. Germany Wins!

  5. Sean
    March 19, 2019 at 13:45

    Historic pirate, plunderer, and enslaver par excellence, now money-laundering champion of the world .. but still scolding others about not adhering to sone imaginary “rules-based international order.” No wonder the trait most associated with the British outside the Anglophone world remains crass hypocrisy.

  6. Anarcissie
    March 19, 2019 at 10:13

    While I have no doubt that the English and other empires stole from and impoverished their conquests, the fact remains that they did not succeed in enriching themselves; in every case the quest for empire led to physical, financial, and often moral decay and eventual bankruptcy. It turns out that imperialism is a game in which everyone loses. The US is experiencing this now.

  7. dean 1000
    March 19, 2019 at 09:45

    Brexit is not about the imperialism of the British crown or the corporate imperialism of the East India company of yesteryear.
    It is about the imperialism of the EU and the European Central Bank, not to mention Wall Street.
    Free movement of people and goods in the EU countries is Captilism’s Stalinism when it is not the cruel, heartless imperialism emanating from Washington, DC.

  8. Rochelle
    March 19, 2019 at 02:08

    “Hence, well over half of those surveyed in U.K. actually believe that British imperialism was beneficial to the colonies.”

    Brexit pros and cons aside, this delusional hubris is mirrored across the pond in a different kind of misguided perception:

    It seems to me that maybe there are more closeted Cecil Rhodes fans among Anglo-Saxons than they are willing to admit.

    • MarkU
      March 19, 2019 at 06:12

      I think you will find that people in most countries are somewhat deluded about their history and their image in the world, particularly those with an imperial or colonial past. Yes the British were taught that the sun shone out of their arses much as the Americans are taught today, and we were just as deluded. However I think the idea that many people voted to leave the EU because of nostalgia for the old days of empire is faintly ridiculous even on its face. Consider for one moment just how old one would have to be to actually remember any of that. Even nostalgia for the commonwealth is limited to people approaching retirement age.

      It is just another derogatory label to hang on people who voted leave.

  9. March 18, 2019 at 21:49

    One cannot help noting the provenance of these writers. The crushing criticisms are pretty heavy handed, bordering on delight in depicting Britain as a country steeped in nostalgia. Maybe but not in the sense of self righteousness nor superiority, not now anyway.
    Picking up on slavery and apologising – Britain was the first country to abolish slave trading [which would not have been possible on any sort of scale without the collaboration of Africans prepared to sell their own people] and, later, with the movement to abolish slavery [Sir William Wilberforce].
    Colonialism was practised by many countries – clearly not a good thing with hindsight but I dare I say this, Britain was actually good at ruling India with its 1000 or so civil servants, keeping the peace most of the time and then leaving many legacies including lasting ties, a political system, architecture, infrastructure and the English language. All this economic number crunching is really meaningless. The idea of offering reparations based on actions taken by people who have been dead for many years is clearly nonsensical.

    • Please
      March 19, 2019 at 12:59

      “Britian was actually good at ruling India…”
      Sixty million Indians died of famine due to Britain’s rule.

    • Sean
      March 19, 2019 at 13:55

      The British rape of India was the most sordid and criminal exploitation of one nation by another in all recorded history. I recommend you have a read of Shashi Tharoor’s compelling book Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India.

    • MarkU
      March 19, 2019 at 21:06

      It might be noted that during the height of the empire we ourselves had little kids working 16 hours days in mills and working up chimneys. The ordinary people saw practically nothing of the empires wealth and lived in utter poverty and misery.

  10. Litchfield
    March 18, 2019 at 21:08

    Interesting article, but cloudy on how t his historical facts actually relate to Brexit, pro or con.
    “Hence, well over half of those surveyed in U.K. actually believe that British imperialism was beneficial to the colonies.”

    There seems to be an inference that such convictions are driving Brexit Leave voters, but actually no such evidence is given. It might all be Remainers who think this.

    • ToivoS
      March 19, 2019 at 00:39

      Read the first two paragraphs again. They are mentioning that the current trauma of Brexit is causing many Brits to feel nostalgia for the good old days of British colonialism. The authors are pointing out that those feelings are myth.

  11. March 18, 2019 at 14:36

    Those in the UK who believe that Imperialism did not benefit England are equivalent those in the US who believe that Trump is making America great.

    What boggles my mind is how so many people can be so gullible. It reminds me of my favorite quote by George Carlin, “Just think how stupid the average person is, then consider that half of the people are stupider”.

  12. vinnieoh
    March 18, 2019 at 13:05

    Over on TRNN Paul Jay has been talking with Costas Lapavitsas. Interesting insights (to me, an American) on the why of Brexit. There, like here, the capture of government by the wealthy powerful, and Cameron seriously miscalculated calling for a referendum. Mr. L. (whom I didn’t know until listening to the interviews) is a part of the real left apparently, and says basically because of Cameron’s mistake, the working class gave the elite a bloody nose. Says that the European left is seriously muddled concerning the non-democratic nature of the EU, that another referendum would de-legitimize democracy itself, and that a general election to form a new government (in the parliamentary tradition) should happen before another yes/no Brexit question is even considered.

    An interesting sub-current to those interviews is Mr. Jay’s only slightly masked panic that GB might actually leave the EU.

    What the authors of the piece here are talking about in the context of the immediate dilemma is beyond me. Yes, the “white man’s burden” is a well known fantasyland of cruelty, hubris, and hypocrisy, but it seems whatever these authors are talking about has little to do with the 52/48 majority to leave, and what those who voted in the majority were voting against.

    later: re-reading parts of the above, the nostalgia the authors allude to is supposedly coming from the right. Well, that makes sense. Mr. Lapavitsas contends that, although the 52% majority may not (all) have had a clear vision of what they want instead, their desire to leave – and vote – was sincere. If anything it is a revolt against predatory and corruptive capitalism, the exposed face of modern empire.

  13. Joe Tedesky
    March 18, 2019 at 12:05

    As uninformed as I may be in regard to the fine print details of Brexit to be I find it a curious unraveling of alliance where new alliances may just be beginning. It is no wonder that the dream of Cecil Rhodes lives on into the 21th Century when all along what his Milner Kindergarten advocated for was a English Federation made up of Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, (South Africa?), and the USofA, banded together by their English language and Anglo race? Are we seeing this English alliance incubate while still in the womb? Is Gilbratar just a place for English ships to chase Spanish ships a Anglo militarist way of guarding the gateway to the Mediterranean? (3/18/19 Royal Navy vessel HMS Scimitar spent 60 minutes pursuing Spanish navy transport ship Martin Posadillo around the Rock) Will the English people need to quit being European and become more Americanized? All while Germany & France launch an aircraft carrier on their way to creating a European Army/Navy to claim their own mineral rights in far off lands. Brexit is just one of many new demolitions necessary to be accomplished before new structures are to be established so as to compete in a 21st Century new world order. The other will be the liquidation of NATO as we know it. This time the English speaking will need to learn Russian and Mandarin if the world is too survive.

    After you watch the USofZ video go listen to some Beatles & Stones then watch Monty Python reruns or Benny Hill (I’m an old guy forgive my English celebrity references) then you tell me… not to mention Olivia Newton John or Justin Bieber (hey there’s a young one).

  14. Sam F
    March 18, 2019 at 11:56

    Despite mixed motives and benefits (“benevolence plus six percent”), Britain did generate the largest (erstwhile) democracies in the US and India, if only because it could not control large colonies at some point in their development. Re-development of relations could never reassert imperialism. We may hope that the world will soon largely isolate the US and protect the UN&EU against it.

    Reparations after a few generations are problematical: the actual original wrongdoers and the wronged are not affected by punishing their descendants, so any scheme of taxation and distribution based on personal history penalizes and compensates randomly. It would be more sensible to enforce a taxation/reparation mechanism from UN to victim government (or UN aid) for recent and future wrongdoing. But a world federation is needed to ensure that wrongs are prevented, that wrongdoers are taxed or embargoed, and to ensure that wealthy aggressors cannot buy off the UN. No doubt the world is going that way with mixed benefits over a very long period, and should be helped along.

  15. Jeff Harrison
    March 18, 2019 at 11:33

    It should come as no surprise that England (and probably most of the rest of the European colonial powers) all live under the delusion that, in some manner, “we could not leave them to themselves—they were unfit for self-government—and they would soon have anarchy and misrule over there worse than Spain’s was; and (4) that there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them, and by God’s grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellow-men for whom Christ also died”. They have to tell themselves this sort of thing because most people don’t want to think of themselves as inherently evil. Unfortunately, they are.

    Brexit would not marginalize England from the contintent. England has traditionally kept itself apart from the continent and played various countries off against each other to keep the powers of continental Europe from coming together and kicking England’s ass. And the English are also right that to pull off this Brexit they need their empire back. They gotta make money somehow. The bad news for the English is that the former colonies/members of the empire are not likely to be interested

  16. Adrian Kent
    March 18, 2019 at 11:02

    Yes there are Conservatives who hanker after a British Empire 2.0, but you only have to see the amount of grovelling that the current UK Gov is undertaking at the feet of former imperial subject states for new Trade deals to see how misguided their hopes are. Any anti-imperialist couldn’t help but be pleased at this recent turn of events.

    Having said that, the EU itself is an empire, just not in the mould of those of Western European powers of the 17C-20C. It’s more Holy Roman than colonial, but we’re absolutely right to be leaving (I’m British).

    • Litchfield
      March 18, 2019 at 21:17

      “Having said that, the EU itself is an empire, just not in the mould of those of Western European powers of the 17C-20C. It’s more Holy Roman than colonial, but we’re absolutely right to be leaving (I’m British).”

      Hear! Hear!
      Let the English decide what it means to be English.
      the Peanut Gallery is irrelevant.
      The EU is increasingly a club of fascists or totalitarians or something that is totally out of control.

      the British should leave the EU if for no other reason than to honor Greece and maybe give Greece a hand. After all it was Lord Byron who lost his life in Greece because of his love of Greek freedom.
      maybe the Greeks will follow the Brits, where they didn’t have the guts to follow their own OXI. Maybe the British NO will finally motivate the Greeks to save themselves.
      The question is: What would Byron do?
      What would a Greek Byron do vis-a-vis the UK? He would try to save it from the clutches of the EU.

      • Zhu
        March 19, 2019 at 04:14

        Steal Stonehenge, maybe.

  17. Anthony Shaker
    March 18, 2019 at 08:14

    Thanks, very informative article. With one caveat, however. The sun set on the “British Empire” long ago, and there’s more as to why it has set so decisively. When one looks closely at its sordid beginnings, the English imperialist venture like the others that emanated from western Europe (Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, France, England, America) was doomed from the very beginning.

    I won’t burden the readers with more historical details about the sordid history of the English Empire’s economic relationship with the world than what the two historians who wrote this article have. One has only to evaluate its overall history by the outcome of “Western” imperialism. Collectively, the final form of the so-called “West” (now comprised of England, France and America) is well on its way to being as one of the shortest-lived empires in human history. Whether its decline is considered in absolute terms or relative to the rest of the world, the sun simply does not shine on the West anymore. Its entire strategy is predicated on this realization.

    The West’s moment has simply gone as quickly as it came. As the French would say, looking at the speed at which this reality has settled in only the last ten years: “C’est hallucinant!” The rise of the powers behind the “West” or behind “Europe”–both ideological fabrications from the start in any case–has always constituted an anomaly of history.

    Let us return to normality. There is no time to lose, I’m afraid. Thanks to this historical anomaly, the challenges to our world and our planet have reached a catastrophic phase!

  18. Clive
    March 18, 2019 at 07:39

    I don’t doubt that the gist of this article is essentially true. But, what about the belief (which I tend to share) that Britain gave up the empire, particularly India, in 1948, because, after WW2, they no longer had the economic means to administer it?

    • Zhu
      March 19, 2019 at 04:18

      Fear of revolt in India which couldn’t be put down? Certainly France & the Netherlands couldn’t reconquer their SE Asian Empires.

  19. March 18, 2019 at 07:33

    I don’t think the contentions in paragraph one and paragraph two are necessarily inconsistent. That the countries achieving independence is a good thing for most of the then existing empire.

    Britain did contribute to the creation of modern states and did exploit the colonies.

  20. K.
    March 18, 2019 at 07:29

    It’s sad to see these myths being spread even on supposedly leftist sites. Does it not matter that the majority voted for Brexit? Do we even live in a democracy anymore? I think everybody who wants to know knows that people voted for and against Brexit for all sorts of reasons. Reseach has shown “more democracy” was reasons number 1. Many voted to have less immigration, yes, but not everyone taking this position are racists, far from. It’s easy to sit in a middle class ivory tower and condemn people who have to fight for their jobs with people who are willing to work for much less. Rebuilding the empire was not a major reason for voting Brexit. It’s sad sites like this, Dissident Voice and Counterpunch can’t give clear support to Brexit. And yes, of course people were given promises that were exaggerated and not true, but that can be said about Every Election In History, and it’s up to people what they want to believe, why the vote like they do and ultimately what they vote. I am tired of this attitude of a) people voted Brexit because they are racists, “little Englanders” (I want to call the Remoaners “Little Londoners” from now on), seriously are we not past that yet? Or b) because they didn’t know what they voted for, these people are so uneducated and need to middle class/upper class London saviour to tell them what to do. I don’t think b) is much better than a). This was the first time in a very long time normal people raised their voice and didn’t do as most of the media, the smug middle/upper class (most of it), Obama, Blair, the banks and corporations told them. But still most of the “left” supports the establishment and wants to ignore what little we have left of democracy. And to everyone who says “Farage, Boris Johnson” etc like that’s an argument not to want to leave the EU, well “Goldman Sachs, Blair”, not much better company? Btw, I am not British, but lived in Britain during the referendum and I was shocked at the middle class Londoners hate for working people in the country. Respect democracy now!

    • Clive
      March 18, 2019 at 08:10

      I am a working class person who does not live in London or the Home Counties, and I am not a Londoner (although I have lived there in the past – as do many other working class people). I voted ‘Remain’, as did most other people in my area – many of them working class. I had a postal vote because I was visiting Cornwall on polling day. Cornwall voted ‘Leave’. Newlyn fishing boats spent the day circling Mounts Bay, off Penzance and Newlyn, flying anti-EU flags and banners. Then, after the result was announced, many people were in the pubs celebrating.

      But, now, I predict the fishermen won’t get to deplete the fish stocks, or catch more fish, any more than they used to, farmers won’t get EU subsidies, we will exchange ‘Brussels Rule’ for more rule from Washington DC, which will increase the likelihood of nuclear war, and I will have problems getting travel insurance to travel to the continent. We’ll spend the next 30 years trying to get back into whatever remains of the EU, and we will probably have more war and ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland. I hope that, if we do rejoin, we’ll also join the Schengen area, next time.

      • MarkU
        March 18, 2019 at 13:14

        I certainly agree that (as you put it) rule from Washington DC would be even worse than rule from Brussels and I would certainly oppose moves in that direction. The headlong rush towards war, probably nuclear war, is alarming and I regularly contribute to any threads I see on the subject. If the EU had shown any willingness to oppose the US war agenda I would probably have voted the other way, but they didn’t. At least outside the EU we have the chance to elect a government that will.

    • MarkU
      March 18, 2019 at 09:50

      I agree with you entirely, I too am sick of the endless portrayal of people who voted leave as ignorant and/or right-wing. Many genuine left wingers (as opposed to the ultra PC, neoliberal, globalists currently masquerading as “the left”) voted leave, including George Galloway. The fact that such disparate persons as Galloway and Farage can find common cause in this matter is evidence of its widespread support.

      Many people in the UK and the rest of Europe are sick of neoliberal economics, “austerity” for everyone except the bankers who were primarily responsible for the 2008 crash, Merkel’s “open door policy” ie turning Europe into a land of warring ghettos much like the US. People are sick of the constant grovelling to the US, the endless warmongering and sanctions against the Russian Federation (both unjust and also harmful to the European economy) and the endless NATO wars and US sanctions against anyone who has not yet been “Globalised”. I am fully aware that our current government is actually worse than the EU in most ways but at least we can potentially change that with an election.

      We voted out and if there was to be a second referendum my prediction is that the margin would be even bigger.

      • Adrian Kent
        March 18, 2019 at 11:16

        @K & @MarkU. I completely agree too (I’m a Lexit supporter from Hove, England). That the left – and many left-leaning sites – have ceded much of the Brexit debate ground to the right is hugely dispiriting.

        If you’ve not already seen it I thoroughly recommend ‘The Full Brexit’ site – set up by a number of pro-Brexit left-wing academics and researchers. I’m not sure if I can post direct links here – but you should be able to google it. Specifically of reference to this topic I’d check out Phil Cunnliff’s article there titled ‘”We Already Had Empire 2.0: It’s called the EU’ (it’s Analysis #18 there). It’s spot on, as are all their other Analyses and Proposals which are well worth reading through.

        • Skip Scott
          March 18, 2019 at 13:56

          It is the same battle we are seeing in the USA, and all throughout the world. The battle is between the PNACers and their vision of a unipolar empire ruled by and for the oligarchs, and the rest of us who desire a multi-polar world with national sovereignty and governments that work for the overall welfare of their citizens.

      • DW Bartoo
        March 18, 2019 at 11:19

        Do those of you who voted “leave” (and were I living in your “kingdom” I would have joined you) not have good reason to consider that even the pretense of democracy must be questioned, now?

        Why is there not a strong call for actual new elections rather than this nonsense about “another vote”?

        It must be obvious that money interests rule your society and the Tories have prevaricated under May’s leadership as they have no intention of allowing you out of the EU.

        Is there not a crisis of confidence sufficient to require a change of government? Would not such an election provide the very real possibility of Corbyn being chosen despite the attempts by the political classs, including Blairites, and the media to smear him as anti-Semitic?

        And would that not permit, during the election, the opportunity of Corbyn to make clear that only by leaving might a more democratic, just, and economically secure society for the many be established?

        Unless the stranglehold of finance is thoroughly broken, how may your society hope to regain anything close to sustainability and broad social wellbeing?

        You have, I consider, an opportunity to bring about change and also to teach and inspire the rest of us (even we exceptional USians) that no other nation has.

        Should you dare to break free of EU control and financial domination, I am very certain that others will follow.

        • Clive
          March 18, 2019 at 11:47

          Many of the financial stranglers have already left the country because of Brexit. Most of them have gone to Dublin or Frankfurt to remain in the EU. But that won’t save us from global capitalism, or from rule by Washington DC. But, now that we are Brexiting, it won’t be so easy for me to leave the country – although I would very much like to do so, given the mess that we are in.

      • Antipropo
        March 19, 2019 at 15:11

        A second referendum would be a complete denial of democracy; is let’s say they have a second referendum and still vote leave; what then ? another 3 years of fruitless negotiations?

    • Truth first
      March 18, 2019 at 14:23

      “the majority voted for Brexit” You may be right. A manipulted vote is now considered ‘democracy’.

      • DW Bartoo
        March 18, 2019 at 15:57

        Consider that in the two years that May has essentially wasted, there has been no improvement in life conditions for the vast majority of human beings living in the U.K.

        In fact, conditions there are worse than in the US.

        While the economic wellbeing of US citizens has stagnated for the majority since the 2008 “crisis”, actually massive fraud, by bankers world wide but especially in the US and the U.K., citizens of the U.K. Have experienced a significant reduction in their economic wellbeing.

        To pretend that those who support Brexit are fools or racists is to fail to acknowledge the reasons the many basically told the rapacious elites to shove it up their own backsides.

        It is also to belittle democracy by condescendingly suggesting that the many either simply do not understand or are motivated by racial or religious intolerance even including, the scolds suggest, massive anti-Semitism on the part of Corbyn and his allies.

        May has done nothing to improve the quality of life, has done nothing to limit austerity, and has done nothing to distinguish herself as a “leader” possessing any merit whatsoever.

        Perhaps the Yellow Vests, in France, have not made much headway, however they have made the pretense of democracy in the nation obvious to any who do not benefit from the status quo.

        Brexit has done much the same, yet the clarity would be much enhanced were the many to demand new elections and the establishment to refuse to respond, while continuing to pretend to govern with the best of intentions for all.

        The lie of that is clear, why not allow it to be blatantly so?

        We, in the US, have not yet that option as far too many are still in thrall to the corporate media myths and a failed education system designed to inhibit critical thought.

        As well, empire, of the US Military sort, still has the “trust” of a significant portion of the population who still, despite ample evidence to the contrary, believe that the US is kindly, good, and solely concerned with “humanitarian intervention” and destined, divinely, to rule the world. For its own good, of course.

        It is to be hoped that the people of the U.K. and of Europe might be just a bit more mature in their genuflection to empire and elitist tyrannies and thus able to see through the divide and rule techniques of the financial and political elites.

      • RP
        March 22, 2019 at 13:18

        Every vote since the dawn of democracy has been “manipulated.” It’s often referred to as “campaigning” or “politics.”

    • T.J.
      March 18, 2019 at 17:33

      “Many voted to have less immigration, yes, but not everyone taking this position are racists, far from. It’s easy to sit in a middle class ivory tower and condemn people who have to fight for their jobs with people who are willing to work for much less. ” Europian immigrants have paid more in taxes then they receive in benefits. According to research by UCL Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration they have contributed tens of billions to the UK economy. Professionals like doctors and nurses have saved the UK billions in spending on education. Many of these come from less well off countries then the UK at considerable cost to their own economies. Other research by the National Institute and Social Research suggests immigrants boost national productivity by filling gaps in the labor market that would otherwise not be filled which ultimately means faster growth and higher income per head for all. If UK citizens believe that immigrants are at fault for their economic plight, they are seriously being mislead.

      • DW Bartoo
        March 18, 2019 at 18:37

        Doubtless, there are Brexiteers who do believe the nonsense that immigrants are at fault for the economic conditions, yet it is the Tories (by innuendo) and folks like Bannon and his ilk more directly, who have insinuated such nonsense.

        Indeed we see this cunning, and often successful, effort to shift responsibility away from the political and economic elite all over Europe and thenAmericas, the “West”.

        Note the role of the corporate media in all these nations in furthering this evasion. Think of the “free” television air time given to Trump, not because it was “good” for the country, but because it was sensationalism good for the bottom line. In fact, US elections, the horse race hoopla and spectacle is not unlike US football season in terms of its lucrative possibilities and its power to capture rapt attention from huge segments of the population.

        It may be wearing a bit thin, but big money assumes that the pretense of democratic participation will always legitimize the division of the spoils and whet the appetite for more of the same, even including fostering a new Cold War and the possibility of nuclear “exchange”.

        The U.K. media seems likewise willing to be shilling, as do the French media.

        It is not difficult to imagine that as an ubiquitous truth about all “mainstream” media in the “West”.

        That media sells Wars and happily “sexes up” the story to meet the expectations of manufactured consent while branding dissenting viewpoints and ideas as subversive, “foreign”, or simply malign “conspiracy”.

        Yellow Journalism is nothing new, but much of the public has never been exposed to the means of exposing fallacious argument, false equivalency, or other rhetorical deceits.

        That would be the legitimate role of education.

        Yet academia is quite as complicit as media in the lies of empire and the hubris of cultural superiority.

        Yet it also the media which

      • Eddie S
        March 18, 2019 at 20:01

        TJ – nice deflection. You listed the quote, then you ‘answer’ a different BREXIT / ‘free-trade’ criticism. What about the low rate of wage growth in Europe and the US? Don’t you think that maybe…just MAYBE… increasing immigration quotas where most of the immigrants are destitute (ie; the few doctors & nurses who emigrate are minor in comparison to the 10’s of thousands from refugee camps) has a downward pressure on wages for low or unskilled workers? Isn’t that the ‘supply & demand’ that conservatives always like to blindly parrot. Why do you think that the most ardent proponents of ‘free-trade’ (here in the US) and relaxed immigration quotas (in the EU) were/are conservatives? Did they suddenly get concerned about the plight of the poor (whom they’re normally all too happy to create & ignore, even when they live down the block), or perhaps more likely could it possibly be that they saw a way to make a quick killing by 1.) letting in more desperate immigrants (many created by the US & NATO militarism & bombings) to work for virtually nothing, 2.) reducing the bargaining power of labor unions in the process. The fact that because the desperate exploited immigrant will do jobs that the native population balks-at obviously holds down the wages in that sector — no amount of parsing or statical cherry-picking will change that.

        Countries have to start solving their own problems in humanitarian ways, not going around ‘humanitarian bombing’ other countries as the US & NATO like to do, and then exploiting the resultant refugees, most of whom were happier in their pre-bombed country.

        • T.J
          March 18, 2019 at 21:10

          Support for Brexit is motivated to a large extent to prevent migration from other EU countries. The EU allows free movement of people and goods.This is in the mistaken belief that they have contributed to their economic woes. In fact all studies have shown that they contribute substantially in a positive way to the economy. They are not destitute and the vast majority have skills which benefit the economy.The main reason for the downward pressure on wages was caused by the mismanagement by financial institutions and poor regulation by government.
          Refugees and asylum seekers are far less in number than EU migrants and they are not allowed work until after a 12 month or more wait and can only then fill a role on the shortage occupation list.
          I agree wholeheartedly with you that NATO and the US should not be bombing other countries and creating a refugee crisis.

          • MarkU
            March 19, 2019 at 06:39

            Yes It is so much more cost effective in the short term to neglect the education and training of ones own population and instead import those already trained at another countries expense, the US model in fact. But really, is this how we want our country to be run?

          • K.
            March 19, 2019 at 09:09

            I have seen studies pointing in the other direction. But you don’t really need to look at studies. It’s quite obvious that a fight for jobs and people willing to work for less is not exactly great for workers. Plus, another side to EU migration we tend to forget, is that Eastern European countries spend lots of money on education for doctors and other professions they need, just to see them leave for better paid jobs in Western Europe. Ethiopia’s president recently asked young Ethiopians to stay at home, and Ghana’s leader said something similar. We have to look at this side of the story too. It’s not that I blame people for trying to get a better life, we should just remeber migration is often class politics.

        • Antipropo
          March 19, 2019 at 15:26

          Reluctant to get into too complex an argument about the merits of immigration(probably not smart enough) however, I live in Australia where there is an ongoing debate for and against increasing or decreasing immigration with the standard cherry picking of statistics. All neutral surveys by government organisations show that immigration ALWAYS has a nett benefit to the economy and that migrants contribute positively in many ways.

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