I don’t usually make political predictions because I’m generally wrong (and who likes to be wrong?). Today, however, I will go out on a limb and predict that Clinton will win the U.S. presidential election and that Britain will elect to remain in the European Union. I am willing to take the chance of making such predictions not only because I believe them to be true, but also because, this time, I will raise a cheer if I’m wrong on either count.
The U.S. presidential election is still more than four months off, but the Brits vote on Thursday. The “remain” and “leave” factions have each waged active campaigns, complete with rhetoric, bombast and hand-wringing that even went so far as to encompass the murder of a British politician.
While I do not believe that there is much in it for Britain to remain in the E.U., I am disappointed that the “leave” faction has descended to making the issue about immigration, perhaps the most hot button item for Britons these days. With Britain as a member of the E.U., citizens of any sister nation can live and work in Britain legally. This, of course, is also true for Brits who wish to try their fortunes on the Continent, say, in a bit less cold and rainy locale such as Portugal or Italy. No one really knows whether a Brexit would mean that the expats in Britain would have to go home and the British retirees on the beaches of southern Europe would have to do the same. It really is a matter of “details to be worked out later.” The “leave” faction just wants to take back control of Britain’s immigration policies. That would include saving the costs spent by the socialized health care system in caring for the medical needs of immigrants. Oh, and the “be-leave-ers” want to take the billions that Britain is forced to send the European Union and instead use it for worthy causes at home. Also, they want to send their own representatives to international commissions rather than having to settle for representation by Mother Hen E.U.
All of this makes perfect sense to me. Everyone wants to be (or at least to think they are) in control of their own destiny rather than relying, childlike, on others to make their most important decisions.
Of course, the “remain” faction insists that all this is hogwash and poppycock. Why should they leave the Union, they ask, when they have it so good? After all, Britain has a special deal with the E.U. that exempts the Brits from many of the onerous rules and red tape imposed on the rest of the Union nations. Heck, Britain isn’t even saddled with the euro; they got to keep their pound sterling, so what more do they want?
The “remaIN” people point to strength in numbers, the clout that Britain currently enjoys with the E.U. and the advantages of mutual protection. Plus, they are caterwauling about the economic catastrophe that would come with leaving the Union. The stock markets would crash! Worldwide financial panic would ensue! Not only that, but the “remain” faction buys into the E.U.’s saber-rattling, the Union’s noisemaking machine that insists that Britain will pay dearly for destroying what could one day have become the United States of Europe!
And as for Scotland? England’s neighbor to the north claims that, should Britain leave the E.U., Scotland will vote for independence so that the newly free nation can turn right around and join the Union. To which I say ha, ha, ha! Very funny, indeed. Remember, Scotland tried that just a few months ago and the people of the kilt and haggis voted to remain securely within Great Britain. If anyone believes the Glaswegians are going to change their minds now because they’re mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore, well, I have a bridge to sell you over here in California, chap.
The fact is that the “stiff upper lip” Brits are just too conservative and too stuck in their own bog to do anything as dramatic as vote to leave the European Union. For heaven’s sake, even Greece, whose people did vote to leave the Union last summer (remember all those OXI! signs?) ended up staying, thanks to spineless Tspiras and “motorcycle Mac” Varoufakis. If tiny Greece couldn’t pull off a Grexit despite the will of the people, I don’t think a nation as populous as Britain has a marshmallow’s chance in hell.
No one is saying that the E.U. would let Britain off easy if they do decide to leave. The Union will undoubtedly use the two-year unwinding process as an opportunity to stick it to Britain any way they can. But as far as the gloom-and-doom “remain” faction, they can quit peddling their disaster scenarios now.
Not that it matters. The “remain” faction has effectively already won. Even the financial panic that was gaining some momentum last week has died down as the “leave” faction has lost its momentum quicker than Bernie Sanders.
It’s really too bad. As some articles in the media have pointed out, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Great Britain to cut the apron strings and forge a future on its own terms. But with the vote less than two days away, I can see that Britain has already blown its chance. Choked in the ninth inning. Pulled defeat from the jaws of victory.
All that’s left is to pull out the chocolate bars and make some S’mores on Thursday. And pass the hankie, please. For I shall shed a tear at the incontrovertible evidence that a Britain that once lived up to its name is truly no longer Great.