Dan Hannon’s Delusional 2016 Article on Brexit

In 2016 Tory Brexiteer MEP Dan Hannan wrote an article about what Britain would be like in 2025 after Brexit. It’s seriously delusional, as Hannan must realise, as he has since deleted it. It was at the URL http://reaction.life/britain-looks-like-brexit and archived at https://archive.fo/CDBFf.

Here it is preserved for posterity:


It’s 24 June, 2025, and Britain is marking its annual Independence Day celebration. As the fireworks stream through the summer sky, still not quite dark, we wonder why it took us so long to leave. The years that followed the 2016 referendum didn’t just reinvigorate our economy, our democracy and our liberty. They improved relations with our neighbours.

The United Kingdom is now the region’s foremost knowledge-based economy. We lead the world in biotech, law, education, the audio-visual sector, financial services and software. New industries, from 3D printing to driverless cars, have sprung up around the country. Older industries, too, have revived as energy prices have fallen back to global levels: steel, cement, paper, plastics and ceramics producers have become competitive again.

The EU, meanwhile, continues to turn inwards, clinging to its dream of political amalgamation as the euro and migration crises worsen. Its population is ageing, its share of world GDP shrinking and its peoples protesting. “We have the most comprehensive workers’ rights in the world”, complains Jean-Claude Juncker, who has recently begun in his second term as President of the European Federation, “but we have fewer and fewer workers”.

The last thing most EU leaders wanted, once the shock had worn off, was a protracted argument with the United Kingdom which, on the day it left, became their single biggest market. Terms were agreed easily enough. Britain withdrew from the EU’s political structures and institutions, but kept its tariff-free arrangements in place. The rights of EU nationals living in the UK were confirmed, and various reciprocal deals on healthcare and the like remained. For the sake of administrative convenience, Brexit took effect formally on 1 July 2019, to coincide with the mandates of a new European Parliament and Commission.

That day marked, not a sudden departure, but the beginning of a gradual reorientation. As the leader of the Remain campaign, Lord Rose, had put it during the referendum campaign, “It’s not going to be a step change, it’s going to be a gentle process.” He was spot on.

In many areas, whether because of economies of scale or because rules were largely set at global level, the UK and the EU continued to adopt the same technical standards. But, from 2019, Britain could begin to disapply those regulations where the cost of compliance outweighed any benefits.

The EU’s Clinical Trials Directive, for example, had wiped out a great deal of medical research in Britain. Outside it, we again lead the world. Opting out of the EU’s data protection rules has turned Hoxton into the software capital of the world. Britain is no longer hampered by Brussels restrictions on sales, promotions and e-commerce.

Other EU regulations, often little known, had caused enormous damage. The REACH Directive, limiting the import of chemical products, had imposed huge costs on manufacturers. The bans on vitamin supplements and herbal remedies had closed down many health shops. London’s art market had been brutalised by EU rules on VAT and retrospective taxation. All these sectors have revived.

Financial services are booming – not only in London, but in Birmingham, Leeds and Edinburgh too. Eurocrats had never much liked the City, which they regarded as parasitical. Before Brexit, they targeted London with regulations that were not simply harmful but, in some cases, downright malicious: the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive, the ban on short selling, the Financial Transactions Tax, the restrictions on insurance. After Britain left, the EU’s regulations became even more heavy-handed, driving more exiles from Paris, Frankfurt and Milan. No other European city could hope to compete: their high rates of personal and corporate taxation, restrictive employment practices and lack of support services left London unchallenged.

Other cities, too, have boomed, not least Liverpool and Glasgow, which had found themselves on the wrong side of the country when the EEC’s Common External Tariff was phased in in the 1970s. In 2016, the viability of our commercial ports was threatened by the EU’s Ports Services Directive, one of many proposed rules that was being held back so as not to boost the Leave vote. Now, the UK has again become a centre for world shipping.

Shale oil and gas came on tap, almost providentially, just as the North Sea reserves were depleting, with most of the infrastructure already in place. Outside the EU, we have been able to augment this bonanza by buying cheap Chinese solar panels. In consequence, our fuel bills have tumbled, boosting productivity, increasing household incomes and stimulating the entire economy.

During the first 12 months after the vote, Britain confirmed with the various countries that have trade deals with the EU that the same deals would continue. It also used that time to agree much more liberal terms with those states which had run up against EU protectionism, including India, China and Australia. These new treaties came into effect shortly after independence. Britain, like the EFTA countries, now combines global free trade with full participation in EU markets.
Our universities are flourishing, taking the world’s brightest students and, where appropriate, charging accordingly. Their revenues, in consequence, are rising, while they continue to collaborate with research centres in Europe and around the world.
The number of student visas granted each year is decided by MPs who, now that they no longer need to worry about unlimited EU migration, can afford to take a long-term view. Parliament sets the number of work permits, the number of refugee places and the terms of family reunification. A points-based immigration system invites the world’s top talent; and the consequent sense of having had to win a place competitively means that new settlers arrive with commensurate pride and patriotism.
Unsurprisingly, several other European countries have opted to copy Britain’s deal with the EU, based as it is upon a common market rather than a common government. Some of these countries were drawn from EFTA (Norway, Switzerland and Iceland are all bringing their arrangements into line with ours). Some came from further afield (Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine). Some followed us out of the EU (Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands).

The United Kingdom now leads a 22-state bloc that forms a free trade area with the EU, but remains outside its political structures. For their part, the EU 24 have continued to push ahead with economic, military and political amalgamation. They now have a common police force and army, a pan-European income tax and a harmonised system of social security. These developments have prompted referendums in three other EU states on whether to copy Britain.

Perhaps the greatest benefit, though, is not easy to quantify. Britain has recovered its self-belief. As we left the EU, we straightened our backs, looked about us, and realised that we were still a nation to be reckoned with: the world’s fifth economy and fourth military power, one of five members on the UN Security Council and a leading member of the G7 and the Commonwealth. We recalled, too, that we were the world’s leading exporter of soft power; that our language was the most widely studied on Earth; that we were linked by kinship and migration to every continent and archipelago. We saw that there were great opportunities across the oceans, beyond the enervated eurozone. We knew that our song had not yet been sung.

Daniel Hannan is a Conservative MEP and author of Why Vote Leave published by Head of Zeus


I guess that means I’ve just committed myself to keeping this blog up until at least 2025.

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Pirates come third in Czech election

Czechia had a general election:

Party Votes % +/– Seats +/–
ANO 2011 1,500,113 29.64 +10.98 78 +31
Civic Democratic Party 572,962 11.32 +3.59 25 +9
Czech Pirate Party 546,393 10.79 +8.13 22 +22
Freedom and Direct Democracy 538,574 10.64 NEW 22 +22
Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia 393,100 7.76 -7.15 15 -18
Czech Social Democratic Party 368,347 7.27 -13.09 15 -35
KDU-ČSL 293,643 5.80 -0.98 10 -4
TOP 09 268,811 5.31 -6.69 7 -19
Mayors and Independents 262,157 5.18 NEW 6 +6

The final polls put the Pirates on 7.7% whereas their actual result was over 3 points higher than that.

This is almost exactly a year after Pirates came 3rd in the Icelandic election, on 14.5% of the vote.

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Catalonia will become independent

Spanish police are using violence to prevent people from voting in Catalonia’s independence referendum, which Spain describes as “illegal”. Here’s some Spanish riot police about to fire into protestors:

spanish_riot_police_barcelona

From the Guardian:

More video footage of police brutality against voters in Barcelona has appeared. The video shows police hitting people in the crowd with batons while voters hold up their hands.

Without the violence, independence would probably have got the support of 45% of Catalans. But Spain’s heavy-handed response will move many into the pro-independence camp.

As Vox Day says:

Spain is losing the moral level of war in Catalonia. Badly. The Spanish can cry “the vote is illegal” all they like, but the Spanish government can no longer pretend to have democratic legitimacy in Catalonia or to be anything but an imperialist state governing an unwilling people by force. The vote is no longer even necessary at this point; world opinion is actively turning against Spain.

Remember, “the law” does not actually exist in any material sense. It is merely a collective agreement, which ceases to exist when a sufficient number of people unilaterally withdraw from it.

There are two ways to govern a people: don’t oppress them at all (the democratic approach), or oppress them properly (how most states have been governed, historically); if you try to do something in between, you’ll probably fail. Spain wants to oppress Catalonia, but is too democratic to do so properly — they can’t go for a return of Francoism, and if they did,  they would get kicked out of the EU, ruining their economy.

So Catalonia will very likely become independent.

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Internet rage caused by inability to understand probability

Some people don’t get probability, and this leads to Internet rage.

Here’s Scott Alexander, on IQ:

If you really understand the idea of a statistical predictor – if you have that gear in your brain at a fundamental level – then social science isn’t scary. You can read about IQ, or heredity, or stereotypes, or gender differences, or whatever, and you can say – ah, there’s a slight tendency for one thing to correlate with another thing. Then you can go have dinner.

If you don’t get that, then the world is terrifying. Someone’s said that IQ “correlates with” life outcomes? What the heck is “correlate with”? Did they say that only high-IQ people can be successful? That you’re doomed if you don’t get the right score on a test?

And then you can either resist that with every breath you have – deny all the data, picket the labs where it’s studied, make up silly theories about “emotional intelligence” and “grit” and what have you. Or you can surrender to the darkness, at least have the comfort of knowing that you accept the grim reality as it is.

Imagine an American who somehow gets it into his head that the Communists are about to invade with overwhelming force. He might buy a bunch of guns, turn his house into a bunker, start agitating that Communist sympathizers be imprisoned to prevent them from betraying the country when the time came. Or he might hang a red flag from his house, wear a WELCOME COMMUNIST OVERLORDS tshirt, and start learning Russian. These seem like opposite responses, but they both come from the same fundamental misconception. A lot of the culture war – on both sides – seems like this.

More pithily, here’s Piotr Migdał:

gaussian_outrage

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Can the USA survive tribalism?

Andrew Sullivan wonders whether the USA can survive tribalism:

Over the past couple of decades in America, the enduring, complicated divides of ideology, geography, party, class, religion, and race have mutated into something deeper, simpler to map, and therefore much more ominous. I don’t just mean the rise of political polarization (although that’s how it often expresses itself), nor the rise of political violence (the domestic terrorism of the late 1960s and ’70s was far worse), nor even this country’s ancient black-white racial conflict (though its potency endures).

I mean a new and compounding combination of all these differences into two coherent tribes, eerily balanced in political power, fighting not just to advance their own side but to provoke, condemn, and defeat the other.

I mean two tribes whose mutual incomprehension and loathing can drown out their love of country, each of whom scans current events almost entirely to see if they advance not so much their country’s interests but their own. I mean two tribes where one contains most racial minorities and the other is disproportionately white; where one tribe lives on the coasts and in the cities and the other is scattered across a rural and exurban expanse; where one tribe holds on to traditional faith and the other is increasingly contemptuous of religion altogether; where one is viscerally nationalist and the other’s outlook is increasingly global; where each dominates a major political party; and, most dangerously, where both are growing in intensity as they move further apart.

This is a very important question. It may well be that the USA descends into chaos, a new civil war or authoritarianism. Or it may overcome its current difficulties. Whether it does so is the most important question facing America today. And because the USA is the biggest country in the West, and is important in the world generally, it is a question that matters for everyone.

(See also my Should the US West Coast Join Canada?)

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How many female MPs and MSPs should there be?

I.

A House of Commons committee proposes changes to increase the number of women MPs:

The government has rejected all six proposals to give parliament more equal female representation, prepared by the Commons’ women and equalities committee, including fines for parties that do not select enough women as candidates.

The women and equalities committee chair, Maria Miller, said the response showed a lack of ambition by the government, which she said was “content to sit on its hands with an approach” which had yielded “depressingly slow progress so far”.

The proposals included:

legislation to force parties to have a minimum proportion of 45% female parliamentary candidates in general elections, with the option to consider fines if targets were not met.

II.

At the same time, Engender have put forward a series of proposals that includes gender quotas for MSPs and Scottish councillors:

Legislate for 50 percent candidate gender quotas and sanctions for non- compliance.

in the 2016 Holyrood elections, only 35 percent of members elected to the Scottish Parliament were women, every one of whom is white and non-disabled. This represents regression for Scotland, from a high of 4th place in the global rankings in 2003, to 27th place at present. At local authority level, the 2017 local council elections in Scotland returned 71 percent men.

Women are not underqualified for the demands of political office, but political parties serve as gatekeepers to elected representation. Legislated candidate quotas legally require political parties to field proportional numbers of women and men as candidates for election to parliament or local government. To be effective in practice, these must be matched by mechanisms to ensure that women not only stand as candidates, but have a strong or guaranteed chance of being elected. [my emphases]

III.

So, what proportion of MPs, MSPs and councillors should be women? How many should be disabled? How many non-white? For that matter, how many should have green eyebrows (or any other characteristic not especially protected in the legislation)?

The answer is very simple: in a democracy, for any characteristic X, the proportion of elected representatives who are X’s should be whatever the voters want it to be.

Anyone who disagrees is against democracy. We know Maria Miller is against democracy — she’s a Tory who support FPTP. And anyone who thinks people should be “guaranteed” being elected has about as much respect for democracy as Vladimir Putin.

IV.

Engender note that “parties serve as gatekeepers to elected representation”. This is true, and it’s a lot truer under FPTP than under PR. Under the best forms of PR, it is the least true.

What sort of voting system ensures that the proportion of elected representatives who are X’s is whatever the voters want it to be? STV is a good one. A better one would be for 90% of the seats to be elected by STV and the other 10% as top-ups, in much the same way that AMS works. There should be no artificial thresholds — if a party gets 1% of the votes, they should get 1% of the seats; so for example in the Scottish parliament, with 129 seats, a party would need about 1/129th of the vote to get elected. Therefore under true proportional representation, the hurdle of forming a new party and getting elected would be a lot less than at present.

(Alongside this, another reform that would allow new parties to compete on an equal footing with established parties would be for, in every election, the authorities to print a booklet and distribute it to every household; it would contain details of the election, and give each party 1 page to explain their policies).

So if some people think that not enough women are being elected, and the existing parties don’t want to do anything about that issue, people could set up their own party, (they could call it the “Women’s Equality Party”), with an all-female list of candidates, and if at least 1 in 129 of the voters wanted more women MSPs, they would get people elected. The same would work for people who are disabled or ethnic minorities.

But the biggest advantage of my proposal over Engender’s quotas is that it would work automatically for any group that feels itself to be under-represented and for which they can get voters to agree with them — such as our hypothetical people with green eyebrows.

And I suspect that’s why Engender and Miller don’t support this proposal — it’s too democratic for them. Miller supports an undemocratic voting system, FPTP, that allows the Conservative and Labour parties more influence than their vote shares would warrant.

And Engender, I suspect, would wish half of MSPs to be women even if they cannot persuade voters (most of whom are women) to vote for that outcome. Nor would Engender wish to give a helping hand to groups other than those they approve of (such as women, the disabled, and persons of colour) — for example I doubt if they would want men’s rights activists to get an MSP if they got 1/129th of the vote.

V.

One final point: if you want a body to be demographically representative of the population, elections are a bad way to achieve that outcome. The purpose of elections is to elect a body that is representative of what the voters want, not what the voters are. For example, a higher proportion of MSPs  are university-educated than the general public; this probably reflects the public’s desires, since many people might feel better represented by a more educated person.

If you want a body that is representative of what the voters are, sortition is the answer.

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Explanation of workfare

Here’s a cartoon explaining the government’s policy on workfare (via Reddit):

my_workfare_lady_2

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