Thursday, 23 June 2016


I hope the result of today's referendum is that the UK leaves the European Union. A British exit from the E.U. makes sense as part of an overall push toward constitutional reform in the direction of decentralization and more strictly limited government. I still expect that the Leavers will win the referendum partly because I think a lot of them will be betting on Remain to win as a kind of "insurance" against losing.

However, there isn't sufficient public support for the broader struggle to liberalize Britain and restrict and decentralize political power, and of course there is still the worry that I could be wrong and that the referendum result will actually be a win for the Remain campaign by a narrow margin. If that is the case then I will be especially disappointed as I discovered some months ago, much to my irritation, that I was ineligible to vote because I hadn't registered for either of the two general elections that took place in England when I would have been eligible (the 2001 election and the 2005 election both of which Labour won by large majorities and in both of which I would have been registered in safe Labour seats).

I can't help but think there is something not quite right about that.


  1. I'm surprised you are in the Leave camp, not because I think the EU is fundamentally sound, but rather because I think the referendum is a completely inappropriate tool for deciding on continued membership (a referendum on initial entry on the other hand, would have been fine...).
    My primary objection to the referendum is the fate of expatriates (both from the UK in the EU - maybe two million, and from the EU in the UK - maybe another two million), which is essentially unknown at this point. The Leave camp have been negligent in their treatment of "what's next" and the utter lack of planning or proposal in regard to expatriates is par for the course for them. It doesn't seem right to me that four million people, who made plans based on UK's stable membership in the EU, can have their futures cast into uncertainty based on a majority vote by people who never intended to use the EU's free movement rules in the first place.
    Of course, if Britain had a constitution that protected individual rights we might be able to pinpoint which rights would be abrogated by this vote, but since we don't, I'm just left with an unease that this vote is not strictly moral. It even makes me feel that Britain could very easily fall into fascism just as long as the leader of the fascist movement has a clear mandate from a majority of the people - and to hell with the minority.

  2. Yes but the E.U. was built up over time, slippery-slope style so the 1973 referendum was for a very different prospect than this year's referendum, so that point is moot.

    On your main objection...

    1) British expats living in the E.U. (I might have been one had I not chosen Taiwan, as I also speak German) are under E.U. jurisdiction, so it's not clear how the Leave campaign could have prepared for them anyway. Probably they will have to visit their local immigration office and apply for visas like I had to for most of my time in Taiwan. Perhaps the various member states will be allowed to alter their immigration regulations to make some exception for these people (though I doubt it). The uncertainty they will face in the event of Brexit is bad, but it's surely not the end of the world.

    2) If the decision to leave or remain in the E.U. had not been taken by referendum, then it would have had to have been done through a party platform at a general election. We would then be mixing up this one very large decision with a myriad other decisions - which given the importance of this one decision would have been unfair on both Leave and Remain camps.

    On a possible descent into "fascism"... one of the arguments in favour of remaining in the E.U. was that E.U. law sometimes provided an effective check on national governments. This is true to some extent, and it's important because there is a strong "puritanical" element across the British political spectrum (e.g. the smoking ban, and the alcohol licensing laws) as well as a gross centralization of political power in London. Although getting new checks and balances over the London government will be more difficult than relying on the buffer of E.U. laws, I think that approach is better. It's better if the people themselves try to wrest some control over the government than just sitting by passively relying on E.U. law. Then there's that other thing; there is no effective check on the E.U. itself as the European Parliament has very limited power and this hasn't looked likely to change.

    Also, one of the arguments I make is that Taiwanese cannot look to Britain to support their independence from China as long as Britain doesn't even support its' own independence from the E.U. Granted, there is a big difference between the E.U. and the P.R.C, but there are obvious parallels not least of which is the lack of democratic accountability. It is amazing to me how many Taiwanese people fail to see this obvious parallel.

  3. Also read this...


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