May 7, 2017


Never before in my adult life has the future seemed so bleak for progressives (Will Hutton,  6 May 2017, The Guardian)

Britain is a country of the European Enlightenment, or so I have thought. For decades, we have muddled through without a written constitution. But the impact of a referendum that went against majority opinion in parliament, along with a desperately weak parliamentary opposition, a weaponised rightwing media and lack of mass support for the rule of law, has shown how vulnerable our civilisation is to know-nothing populism and a profoundly dysfunctional democracy.

Enlightenment values - tolerance, respect for the importance of fair debate, checked and balanced government, objectivity and impartiality, recognition of international interdependencies - are being trashed. Matters could get very ugly, very fast. It is not just Europe we are leaving, but an idea of Britain.

Over the last week, the scale of the impending disasters started to crystallise. It is becoming obvious that there is no compromise settlement between Britain and the EU that can satisfy both. There cannot be a win-win deal because the EU must show all its members that staying in confers greater benefits than life outside the club. It is a tragedy, thinks the EU leadership, that Britain wants to sever its links completely, aiming for some privileged trade relationship like that of Canada or Ukraine, which the EU is not sure it wants to negotiate and certainly not before Britain's bills are settled. Britain is thus certain to go over a cliff; the only question is how great the fall.

This pessimism is not just the view of Jean-Claude Juncker and Brussels "bureaucrats", as Theresa May characterises them. It is widespread, particularly in Germany. Last week, one of the most distinguished figures in German politics, the president of the Bundestag, Norbert Lammert, told an audience in Oxford that, while every effort had to be made to find a deal, unless May radically changed her position the gulf was too wide. The British did not seem even to understand the need for the European parliament's assent.

It's no wonder Progressives are so shocked, they don't even comprehend their own country and the past several centuries of its history.

Posted by at May 7, 2017 11:57 AM