Conrad Black’s thoughts on Brexit, decoded
Conrad Black was a couple days late with his hot take on the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union for The National Interest, but was it ever worth the wait. As we occasionally do when Lord Black bestirs himself to type words about a matter of national importance, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to make a condensed version, using a few excerpts from the (much) longer piece.
Though they can be overworked, there are some comparisons with the sacking of the American political establishment. There is the common thread of concern about immigration and trade being mere labels for the importation of unemployment. And there is the resentment of the lassitude and pomposity and disconnection to bread and butter as well as patriotic issues of the ruling elites. But in Britain there is the dangerous issue of surrender of national sovereignty-at least the Americans do not have to retrieve the right of self-government, for which George Washington and his comrades fought for seven years. But it is not fair to say that Britain has had twenty years of misgovernment as the United States has. The United Kingdom did not bring down upon itself and the world the greatest economic crisis in eighty years as the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations did with the housing bubble and the deliberate and enforced issuance of hundreds of billions of dollars of worthless mortgages. Nor have the British squandered scores of thousands of casualties and trillions of dollars in prolonged war in the Middle East that enhanced the status of their strategic adversaries, especially Iran. And Britain has not oscillated between the hip-shooting pugnacity of George W. Bush, and the feckless appeasement of Obama.
[What’s happening in Britain right now is a lot like what’s happening in the United States.]
The idiocy of the currency speculators and money managers will subside quickly. The European treaty and the incomprehensibly turgid Constitution of the European Union provide for two years of negotiation. Despite the initial purposeful response of the ciphers in Brussels, who are not elected, are not responsible to the so-called European Parliament or the EU’s constituent nations, and are not answerable to anyone, will cave like jelly to try to keep Britain in. Cameron, having promised to hold a referendum, should have returned empty-handed and led the leave side of the vote while explicitly stating he wanted a mandate to require the substantive changes he had promised. He managed to fumble his way out of a majority he should have won six years ago, got the lucky bounce last year when UKIP took more from Labour than from the Conservatives and the Scottish nationalists cut Labour off at the ankles in that province and Cameron, against the polls, won a majority. In the politics of governing a great nation, you don’t win the grand lottery twice in a row.
[I, Conrad Black, know exactly what David Cameron should have done to avert this crisis.]
Brussels has been exposed in its infirmity. A common market will remain. The Euro-federalists will group around Germany (Austria, Netherlands, Czechs, Poles, and Baltic and Scandinavian countries except Norway), and adopt or retain the Euro. The Mediterranean countries, including Portugal, will desultorily follow France, which will be less dyspeptic with a change of government next year, and the East European countries will advance toward one of the blocs at the best speed they can attain. Britain will revert to measured cordiality, balancing interests as it has done since the rise of the nation state in the time of Henry VIII, invoking American assistance as it did in the last century, if the European balance tilts dangerously. This is unlikely now, in a nuclear age and with a relatively content and placatory Europe.
If Britain really does leave Europe, the economic consequences will be neutral all round, though the United Kingdom will be stronger without the dead weight of Euro-Danegeld as placebos to labor and small farmers (for notorious historic reasons). The hysteria of the last few days will pass like a summer shower. Britain, as it has often before, is leading Europe out of a well-intended cul-de-sac of undemocratic socialism to a future that works.
[If Britain does leave the E.U., there will be lots of commotion, but you heard it here first: everything will be pretty much like it is now. As you were.]