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Herbert London: Brexit Revisited

Now that the London fog has cleared, a dispassionate analysis of the Brexit vote is possible, even with murky clouds over the British Isles. The pound plunged with the Brexit vote as did global markets. Political elites from Cameron to Obama shuddered. Investors on both sides of the Atlantic were pummeled. Some say the British vote to leave the European Union is an invitation to anarchy.

I would say the vote represents a monumental assertion of free will, a vindication of a millennium of democracy and self-government. While those in London favored remaining in the E.U., the rest of Britain rebelled against the stain of migration that has disrupted the countryside, even leading to the massive rape of underage girls in one community by recent Muslim immigrants. The idea that Britain could absorb another 650,000 immigrants under E.U. mandate is, in the minds of many, a prescription for disaster.

Multiculturalism is in retreat as are the politically correct nostroms that have unsettled life for the average Brit. Brexit speaks to the Grand Old England, the one led by Margaret Thatcher who was the original Euroskeptic. She understood that the arrogant assertion of a united European entity undoing 500 years of history since the Westphalian accord was a fantasy. It has taken forty years for that fantasy to reveal itself, but now it has and dissolution is on the horizon. Brexit will lead to Czechit and Italianit and the slow but inexorable splitting of the elitist conception of Europe.

Most Brits were tired of a group of bureaucrats in Brussels telling them whether the use of an electric teapot was permissible or the allowable size of a lawn mower. Who are these bureaucrats anyway? They weren’t elected by British citizens. In fact, the entire E.U. is supra - democratic – a reach beyond sovereignty to unassigned authority. Ordinary people understand the disconnect with a government over which their control cannot be exercised.

Despite ritualistic anxiety over the Brexit vote, it does represent an opportunity for the United Kingdom and global arrangements. This is the moment for the Anglosphere, a trade and military arrangement for those nations that share a common culture, language and tradition (the U.K., the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand). There is also the distant possibility British independence could enhance, rather than dismember, NATO. After all, it is U.S. and British involvement that represents the core of NATO’s strength; a realignment based on larger than present defense contributions from member states would be the shot of adrenalin NATO needs to combat the challenges of Russia and Putin in the Baltic States and the Ukraine. With a reconstituted NATO, the anti-terrorist mission would be given greater weight than is presently the case and, perhaps, given a focus that has been lacking.

For most of its history, the E.U. represents a redistributionist scheme in which the prosperous nations bail-out those unable to make a go of it. In the former category, Germany and Britain stand as nations that give more than they get from the E.U.  The rest are on a queue waiting for subsidies all the while introducing reforms, like early retirement for government employees, that put a strain on the economy. One might well ask why a factory worker in Manchester should be taxed to sustain a government official in Athens who will retire at 55. Moreover, if the Greek, or Italian or Spanish governments realize they will be assisted by E.U. funding, what is the incentive for realistic fiscal reform? Surely E.U. pressure has been applied and modest change has occurred, but the socialist dream of converting a utopian idea into practical results has not and cannot be realized.

From the outset, the E.U. was designed for tariff relief in the coal and iron industries. However that modest goal morphed into a political entity modeled on the United States that overlooks participant national cultures, history and languages. Remaking history is the goal of utopians who rarely, if ever, take into account the sentiment of ordinary people.

Brexit represents that moment when the merry-go-round of historical evolution is stopped. Brits have said “enough.” As I see it, this is the beginning of a remarkable assertion of sovereign will, independence and democratic zeal. Economic markets may be adversely affected since vast change is always disruptive. But over the long term (admittedly a vague expression) this vote will be seen as the reinstitutionalization of the Magna Carta.

Herbert London is President of the London Center for Policy Research, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the book The Transformational Decade (University Press of America). You can read all of Herb London’s commentaries at www.londoncenter.org

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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