June 23, 2016


It's not my country and it really isn't my business, but I have to confess that I hope "leave" wins, mostly for shadenfreude.

But it won't make any difference. Even if "leave" gets a huge victory, this vote is non-binding. If the UK is to leave the EU, Parliament would have to pass a bill. And they won't.

There have been many elections in various parts of Europe about the EU over the last 25 years or so, and they have never made any difference. If the voters give the wrong answer, either the government ignores them or it schedules a new vote, to give the voters a chance to correct their error. It's a slow-motion non-violent political coup pitting Europe's snobs against their slobs. The snobs know the answers (or think they do) and they're not going to let the slobs stand in the way. And so it is, here.

Even if "leave" wins big, this Parliament won't even debate such a bill, let alone pass it. The snobs have already decided that European unity is too wonderful an idea to let a bunch of slobs stop it. The only political effect will be to strengthen the UKIP, and the only way Parliament will consider leaving the EU is if UKIP is in majority. Even in the best of scenarios it would take years to reach this point.

So from the American Schadenfreude point of view, the only amusing aspect of this if "leave" wins will be to watch Cameron explain why the vote didn't actually matter, and why he and his party are justified in ignoring it.

I'm watching the vote count on the BBC, and right now "leave" has a slight edge. But it's only about 1 million votes total so far and that's maybe 2% of the ultimate total. As the wise man once said, it ain't over until it's over. And apparently that won't be until late this evening my time (i.e. morning in the UK).

As you might imagine, over at Metafilter the consensus is that "stay" should win, so another source of schadefreude is reading all the moaning as "leave" continues to lead. And, of course, anyone who votes to "leave" is a drooling racist. It's obvious, isn't it?

UPDATE: At the Guardian, this interesting comment from Andrew Sparrow:

You can always tell who is losing on an election night - it's the side where they start blaming each other. Earlier, when it looked good for remain, we saw Vote Leave have a go at Nigel Farage.

But now the recriminations are breaking out on the remain side, where Labour is blaming the government.

UPDATE: About 2 million votes counted now, and "leave" has about a 150,000 vote lead. This could get interesting. But the fat lady isn't warming up yet.

UPDATE: Now "leave" has a 175K vote lead. This is getting more awesome by the minute.

There will always be an England, and England will be free,
As long as England means as much to you as England means to me!

UPDATE: Well, lots of votes from the London area came in, and now "remain" has a 115K lead. But the fat lady isn't warming up yet; this is still only about 10% of the vote counted. And London isn't representative of the whole country.

UPDATE: And now the "remain" lead is down to 32K. I gotta stop doing this.

UPDATE: And now "leave" is back up to an 18K lead. Yeah!

UPDATE: "Leave" is almost 300K ahead now and has been pulling away for the last hour.

This guy says "remain" has no chance of winning, as in zero. He's using some sort of predictive model.

UPDATE: "Leave" has a 420K vote lead now and more than half the votes have been counted. I think I heard the fat lady starting to warm up.

UPDATE: I've been sitting here all evening with a big grin on my face. Some of that comes from reading the Metafilter thread. Lots of moaning, groaning, and gnashing of teeth going on there.

"Leave" now has a 600K lead and it's hard to see how anything can put "stay" back into the lead.

UPDATE: AND the fat lady just started her solo. The BBC just called it for "leave" and so did CNN International. "leave" is more than 800K ahead with about three quarters of the votes counted.

Meanwhile, financial markets all over the world are going nuts. The Pound has dropped like a stone relative to other currencies. The Dow is reported to be down several hundred points.

I think most of that economic gyration is idiocy and it'll all damp out in a few business days, but in the mean time the headlines in the WSJ are going to be interesting.

I wonder if you can sell schadenfreude futures?

UPDATE: All the cars are off the track, and here's the final result:

Leave: 17,410,742 votes, 51.9%
Remain: 16,141,241 votes, 48.1%

Difference is 1,269,501.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Weird World at 04:54 PM | Comments (22) | Add Comment
Post contains 830 words, total size 5 kb.

1 Schadenfreude is down 30% due to a glut on the market.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at June 23, 2016 08:03 PM (PiXy!)

2 I wonder if you can sell schadenfreude futures?

You can, but don't be shocked if people laugh at you when they go pear-shaped.

Posted by: Wonderduck at June 23, 2016 09:29 PM (Hdexn)

3 There's some jokes about "throwing off the yoke of oppression" and other things to send to the Brits, but the situation is actually far more similar to the events that lead to the American Revolution than people really want to admit. So the impulse that set off one world-changing event is still there in the Isles.  Which is good.
The only problem, tossing in another American Revolution reference, is that this is only the Lexington & Concorde moment in the European Nationalist vs Globalist war.  History presses ever onward, and we, at times, are just witnesses. 

Posted by: sqa at June 23, 2016 09:34 PM (clIbv)

4 And David Cameron has announced he'll be resigning as PM once the party chooses his successor.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at June 23, 2016 11:30 PM (PiXy!)

5 UKIP is the big winner in this election.  Expect them to pick up plenty of seats.

Posted by: BigFire at June 23, 2016 11:56 PM (pNmmq)

6 Excerpt from comments by the head of BBC political research:

"There are many millions of people in the UK who do not enthuse about diversity and do not embrace metropolitan values, yet do not consider themselves lesser human beings for all that. ... the metropolitan political class, confronted by them, seems completely bewildered and at a loss about how to respond ('who are these ghastly people and where do they come from?' doesn't really hack it.)"

So, flyover country has spoken.  In Britain, at least

Posted by: ubu at June 24, 2016 05:51 AM (SlLGE)

7 Although the global markets are convulsing now, the only scenario I can see for long-term negative economic impact of Brexit is if the remaining EU members decide to "punish" the British voters with high tariffs or trade embargoes.  And what are the odds of the EU ruling class being that vindictive... 

Posted by: Siergen at June 24, 2016 06:25 AM (De/yN)

8 Pretty good.  After all, our president said there'd be consequences.   And one of those should be President Trump adding Britain to NAFTA, in effect if not name.  (Of course, some Brits might think that's worse than the EU, but it doesn't come with our bureaucracy....)

Posted by: ubu at June 24, 2016 11:19 AM (SlLGE)


I am indifferent to Brexit, though I am inclined toward the Brits staying the Brits.  But there are always opportunity costs, and I know people who do not like 'Leave' winning, because their stocks and bonds, and businesses are now under threat.  In fact, it appears that some companies have already announced relocation plans from the UK.

Also, there are renewed eagerness among the Scottish nationalists and Irish Republicans for an independent Scotland and/or a reunified Ireland.  Those might be good for England - but it will not be a United Kingdom any longer.

The American Interest (William Russell Mead and company.) noticed an observation made by a professor in the UK - UKIP went in big among the working class communities usually represented by Labour MPs, and got a correspondingly high level of support from them.  Parliament might have no choice but to vote on Brexit - and approve it.

Posted by: cxt217 at June 24, 2016 12:55 PM (ihsfL)

10 After the result, was there a meltdown on Metafilter similar to the one Megan McArdle saw from journalists and pundits?

Posted by: muon at June 25, 2016 09:19 PM (IUHrD)

11 Yeah, pretty much. The demographics are different but the hyperbole is about the same.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 25, 2016 10:26 PM (+rSRq)


What is really ironic is that amidst the ranting about 'Leave' voters being stupid and racist, the Mirror published exit polling that shows that 53% of 'Leave' voters put 'laws being made in the UK and not in Brussels' as their most important reason for voting - something that sounds very much like what Boris Johnson and his group was saying.  Immigration, despite Nigel Farage (Who I dislike because of his association with the Kremlin.) and UKIP, came in second at 34%.

Meanwhile, 67% of the 'Remain' voters regarded 'economics' as their most important reason to vote.  If 'Leave' supporters were really the stupid racists that 'Remain' voters suggest (And I see a lot of that - from  Americans - on my Facebook feed.), they would be calling the 'Remain' supporters a bunch of greedy, money-hungry pigs.

Posted by: cxt217 at June 26, 2016 08:58 AM (ihsfL)

13 One interesting thing is that the vote didn't follow the usual political patterns.  Both Leave and Remain were basically 50/50 left/right.  Which is why the conservative PM resigned and the left-wing Labor Party is tearing itself to pieces today.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at June 26, 2016 09:56 AM (PiXy!)

14 Wait, Labour party.  The Australian version dropped the U for whatever reason.  We have an election here in a week...  Joy.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at June 26, 2016 09:58 AM (PiXy!)


The one smart thing that UKIP did this time was to go big and heavy for 'Leave' votes from among the working class communities in traditional Labour seats - and it worked.  The fact alone is why I doubt Parliament can put off voting on Brexit - or voting it down.

I have been seeing Democrats trying to use Brexit and Nigel Farage as a rallying cry against Trump, not understanding that the America version of the 'Leave' voter base would see the majority of working class Democrats voting against Hillary.

Given the unique nature of Britain's membership in the EU means I am unsurprised that many in the rest of the EU have no problem seeing the UK go.  Germany probably prefers one less nation drawing subsidies from it - which is the other big reason why I doubt an independent Scotland will be allowed into the EU (The other being a desire from certain members of the EU not to give ideas to domestic separatist movements.).

Posted by: cxt217 at June 26, 2016 11:01 AM (ihsfL)


It will be a lot easier to extract the UK because the UK kept the pound. Extracting a nation which uses the Euro will be more complicated.

All the people who are talking about how this will end the UK, with Scotland and Northern Ireland wanting independence -- well, maybe. But they seem to imply that this would be unprecedented, and that's bogus.

First, the USSR broke up. Remember that? Then there was Yugoslavia, though a lot of that was because of outside military force.

But there was also Czechoslovakia breaking up -- peacefully, and apparently successfully.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 26, 2016 03:24 PM (+rSRq)

17 USSR had a common currency, too. But I think that Austo-Hungarian empire is a more appropriate example. It included many of the same peoples stuck in EU now.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at June 26, 2016 06:01 PM (XOPVE)


Czechoslovakia is the odd duck among them, due in no small part to Vaclav Havel.  The other two required a certain amount of violence to achieve, and any further secession among the nations of continental Europe will, with the possible exception of Belgium breaking up, not follow the example set by Prague and Bratislava.

(As a sidenote, I amused a few years ago when the progressive left was calling for Obama to follow Boris Yeltsin's example and use force against Congress.  Given that Yeltsin had the military shell the White House to cow the Russian legislators, and the progressives might not like the imagery that comes to mind.).

Pixy, I feel your pain.  Your choice seems to be similar to what faces us here in the US.  Tim Blair may be on to something when he took 'delcon' and ran with it.

Posted by: cxt217 at June 26, 2016 06:03 PM (ihsfL)

19 Oh, we're a lot better off than you in the US.  We have two disagreeable but mostly adequate choices (plus the batshit-crazy Greens, as always).

They're remarkably unexciting candidates, but neither one is or wears orange.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at June 26, 2016 06:51 PM (PiXy!)

20 The famous shelling only happened in the finale of the struggle. The commies based there started taking over key positions in the city, such as the City Hall (former SEV Building). They tried to take over the central TV station in Ostankino, but the police unit that defended it lasted for a couple of days that was enough for the army to see that the commies didn't have enough support base. The army units stopped to ignore their deployment orders and started pushing back. In a couple of weeks of low-intensity street fighting around city landmarks culminated in the ultimatum and shelling.

In American terms, it would be equivalent to Congress was full of Muslim terrorists and took up arms against the rest of the U.S. Government, laying waste to Supreme Court chambers, as well as Georgetown University. I'm not exactly sure if talking about this sort of thing as "Constitutional" or not even makes sense.

I defended the White House when it was Yeltsin's HQ in 1991, but I did not participate in the 1993 uprising on either side. Gradually getting wiser, I guess.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at June 26, 2016 07:12 PM (XOPVE)


I'm glad that kind of thing doesn't happen here. The last time I know of that anything like that happened here was in 1957 when the governor of Arkansas called out the National Guard to prevent black students from entering a traditionally white-only high school, and Eisenhower responded by sending in the 101st Airborne.

But no shots were fired. (Thank goodness.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 26, 2016 08:35 PM (+rSRq)


Eisenhower had placed the 101st Airborne on standby for deployment to Little Rock if the Arkansas National Guard had not followed federal orders.  Fortunately for all concerned, Creighton Abrams (Yes, the officer that the tank is named after.) had his orders obeyed.

Lyndon Johnson had apparently did threaten to send the military against Congress.  So did Richard Nixon secretly at the height of Watergate, only for Abrams to tell him on behalf of the services chiefs that they would pretend that they had not heard that.

Posted by: cxt217 at June 26, 2016 08:45 PM (ihsfL)

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