A million, huh?

Brexit – you may have heard of it. For 40 years, since the UK joined the then Common Market, there has been a substantial ‘Eurosceptic’ mood in both main political parties and in the country. This has been influenced by a never-ending stream of misinformation in the tabloids, claiming the EU is responsible for every one of its readers’ many ills –  including a few they didn’t even know they were bothered by until the papers told them – and spreading alarm that the EU’s ‘ever closer union’ means that it is becoming a federal Superstate, complete with army, president and anthem. To a proud ‘patriot’, this is anathema.

The rest of us simply don’t see it that way, and regard the visceral reaction to our ongoing membership with puzzlement. We value the notions of common cause and unity in a continent still bearing the deep scars of two World Wars that started here, while the requirement for 28 nations to agree policy, unanimously or by majority according to area of impact, offers some protection from the petty politics of the individual nations, whose negative aspects we are amply demonstrating to the world right now. Most law is made by the individual nations, and that will continue to be the case. The rest is voted on by elected delegates. The idea that the remaining 27 nations are willing parties to surrendering their nation status for fully centralised rule, with Britain alone seeing what is really going on … well, it looks a bit mad. Many people in Scotland want to both leave the UK, and remain in the EU as a separate nation. This would make no sense if the ‘death of nation states’ view of the future held any water. And equally proud nations like France, Germany, Italy, Spain … ? I mean, come on! When someone claims ‘Superstate’ as a reason for exit, I regard them as I might someone grabbing the steering wheel and shouting “ALIEEEEENSSSS!” (permissible, of course, when there really are aliens).

Due – it seems to me – to that relentless anti EU propaganda from billionaire-owned tabloids, the national mood has become increasingly Eurosceptic. A political party, UKIP, started with a sole aim in mind, to exit the EU, garnered a lot of support, particularly from what is still termed the ‘working classes’. Due in part to our peculiar constituency system of election, they were unable to gain any seats in Parliament, but ironically, in the EU Parliament’s Proportional Representation system, they gained several seats in order to harangue those on the EU ‘gravy train’ while collecting a fat paycheck, plus expenses and a £75,000 pension.

This drift of support from Conservative candidates to UKIP was a concern for Conservative leader David Cameron, then in a coalition government, and so in the 2015 manifesto, he offered a commitment to hold a referendum on the matter. Manifesto pledges are not really worth the paper they are written on, being honoured as often in the breach as the observance, but Cameron was true to his word, sadly, and on 23rd June 2016 we were offered a simple choice: Remain in the EU or Leave the EU (a question laughably naive, in hindsight, but adjudged by the independent Electoral Commission as least likely to confuse the plebs). To everyone’s surprise, including their own, Leave won, garnering 17,410,742 votes to Remain’s 16,141,241. Although a not-insignificant 1.3 million difference, the real margin, the number who would have to change their minds to wipe out the win, was just 634,750. We have been arguing ever since about what people meant when they placed their X in the ‘Leave’ column. It may seem obvious, but it isn’t – there are almost as many flavours of Leave as Leavers, from a cocky two fingers to the EU in its entirety, by midnight on referendum day if poss (oh, and can we negotiate a trade deal with you please, this powerful bloc we’ve just told to fuck off), to non-voting but expensive membership such as that enjoyed by Norway who takes all the rules and has no say in them, to full-blown NWO tinfoil-hatters.

Leavers were like the dog that caught the car, unsure what to do next. The great thing about referendums being of course that there is no accountability. You can say what you like, you’re not the one who will have to deliver. Eurosceptics were largely professional sideline snipers.

Cameron resigned immediately – my turd, you clean it up. Within a short period of time all three main parties lost their leaders. For the Tories, Theresa May emerged, eventually getting in unopposed when the other candidates wisely dropped out. In the UK, we do not directly elect our Prime Minister – ironically, given the ‘EU is undemocratic’ trope regularly trotted out. They are elected as MP by their constituency, in her case leafy Maidenhead in Berkshire. You don’t live there, you can’t vote for her. They then become PM by becoming leader of the party, elected by members (if anyone else stands).

For Labour on the other hand, Jeremy Corbyn, an old-school socialist, emerged. He had enthusiastic support, particularly among the young, and they were quite strident in their dismissal of ‘centrists’. “Why not just fuck off and join the Tories?” was a common taunt, which probably won’t be their opening line when they turn up on those same centrists’ doorsteps at campaign time asking for their support. To his supporters, he’s beyond criticism. To his detractors, he’s just a very naughty boy.

May was emboldened by the polls to try a ‘snap’ general election in 2017, to “strengthen my hand in EU negotiations”. Really, it was an attempt to smash Corbyn. The nation said “no thanks” and returned the Tories (having said “no thanks” to Jeremy too!) with a reduced majority. She had to rely on the Ulster Unionists, a group of 10 hard-line religious fundamentalists representing just 300,000 voters. Northern Ireland, I should mention, voted as a region to Remain (as did Scotland). I hope you’re keeping up; there will be a test. Now, Northern Ireland is an issue no—one had given much thought to. It’s long been a line of ‘Trouble’, but since we were both in the EU, and after long negotiations all parties had signed up to the Good Friday Agreement, a general, if uneasy, peace had returned.However, the Border will now be a boundary between Britain and the EU. Since we have (maybe; ask me again on Friday) exited both the Single Market and the Customs Union, WTO rules (not EU rules) mean that there will have to be checks – a return of the hated ‘hard border’. There are naturally concerns, and the EU has offered a ‘deal’ that involves an extended Customs arrangement. This requires a far greater say of the EU in our affairs – the very thing Brexiteers were trying to get away from – while simultaneously removing us from a seat at the table that decides these rules. Genius. Eurosceptics hate it and so do Remainers. It is an utterly pointless move, both agree. But whaddyagonnado? The referendum was split close to 50/50, and no-one thought to put in supermajority safeguards, so a compromise that absolutely no-one wants seems the only way to, in the leaden phrase uttered by politician after politician, ‘respect the referendum’.

The ultras are having none of it. They want to crash out without a ‘deal’, a position most people with brain cells regard as absolutely insane, and not one to be inferred from any individual Leave ‘X’ with any confidence. Yet they act as if ‘the 17.4 million’ (another leaden phrase) all wanted, and still want, exactly that. Even the dead ones. Most Remainer MPs meanwhile dare not talk of cancelling Brexit altogether, but talk of something softer but still Brexit-y, with Customs this and Single that, without really coming up with anything concrete. The EU are understandably losing patience. They have been the soul of diplomacy and patience in my view. When Donald Tusk remarked that “there must be a special place in Hell for those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan”, Brexiters were furious, missing the nuance that by resenting the slur they own up to having no plan…

“May’s Deal” has been soundly rejected by both sides in two record-breaking defeats in Parliament – and she wants to bring it back a third time! She’s convinced that if she plays chicken, and it’s that deal or ‘no-deal’, then her deal it is. This gives some flavour of the general unpopularity of no-deal, that it can be used as a threat – “if you don’t stop I’m going to turn this car right around!”. But now, the EU are saying if it’s defeated a 3rd time, you either go now or you have a longer extension and take part in European elections (did I mention that the EU is undemocratic?).

We aren’t ready. Not by a long chalk. In my area, IT, I know that it takes yonks (Google it) to put a system in place, and they haven’t even started – because they don’t know what we have to do! But May’s steely determination, with hardliners’ boots on her neck, has brought us to this ill-prepared impasse – a non-choice between two unpopular options that were not even on a ballot paper in 2016, and we HAVE to do it because … ‘it’s the will of the people’. Now where have we heard that before?

There is a febrile atmosphere. A pro-Remain MP, Jo Cox, was murdered in 2016, and all MPs who dare to retain Remain sympathies have received death threats (I am not aware of any such threats being made to Brexiteers). Even a lady who started an online petition to simply abandon the whole thing – more on which shortly – has received multiple death threats. The reasonable Leavers find common cause with racists, thugs and Nazi sympathisers. In this climate the Prime Minister took the extraordinary step on Wednesday of appealing directly to ‘the people’ and blaming MPs for the impasse, something one would imagine happening in some banana republic, not dear old Britain where our quaint system involves people donning ritual wigs and banging on a door with a big ceremonial stick from time to time. Given the recent assassination, she might be more careful how she whips up ‘the people’. The Government is making plans to impose martial law – martial law! – in the event of no-deal disruption. We’re hoping not to have to actually do it, they add, a little unnecessarily.

I have gone on at far greater length than I intended about the background to this; I was merely intending to mention and show a few pictures from the march I attended yesterday in London, where over a million people ***  – mostly middle-class, it must be admitted – came from all over Britain to make their voice heard, and demand a vote on the actual options available, which weren’t known in 2016 when the blank-cheque ‘Leave’ option was ticked (or crossed, I should say). Seems reasonable? You’d think so, but this is Britain. No end of Leavers, both in power and out, still insist that the referendum – that 634,750 excess – be ‘respected’, 3 years down the line. Many Remainers agree. But surely that phrase must have a sell-by date? 1.5 million people have died since, a similar number have attained voting age. That demographic shift alone favours Remain, because Leave is most heavily favoured in my g-g-g-g-generation (yes, Roger Daltrey is a Brexiteer).

It also seems a matter of basic fairness that Leavers should give their final assent to the preferred method of leaving, given they weren’t asked and the options differ markedly. If Remain happens to rank above any given Leave option available, they should be able to say so. Yet many – including our own Prime Minister – have explicitly stated that such a vote would be ‘undemocratic’. The irony of this was not lost on the crowd yesterday, many placards making mention of May’s three attempts to get her deal ratified while denying ‘the People’ any further say. Indeed, the placards and the general mood of the march made one swell with pride at the crazy Britishness of the whole thing. We stood in a 2-mile queue for an hour, then shuffled good-naturedly along, smiling apologies when feet got trodden on, with barely a policeman in sight (apart from Downing Street, where numerous officers stood in front of the gates, another 8 more behind brandishing submachine guns. “We only want to talk to her”, we might say, like an estranged husband trying to get past his ex’s mum).

A particularly clever brand of trolling has been invented by a group know as ‘Led By Donkeys’. This started as a chat in a pub by 3 mates. They decided to mock up a tweet of some genuine Leave-leader words, get it printed as a full-size billboard, and then stick it up guerilla-style in the dead of night. Subsequently they crowdsourced a bit of funding, rented legitimate space and hired a professional to do the pasting. When they got a bit more cash, they hired an ad van – ironically the same van used by UKIP founder Nigel Farage during referendum campaigning – and used it to follow Nigel about. The van was at the march yesterday, rotating some of their greatest hits – “If this is 52/48 Remain it’s unfinished business by a long way” (N. Farage); “It might make sense to have two referendums actually … ” (J Rees-Mogg); or the classic “A democracy that cannot change its mind ceases to be a democracy” (D. Davis). The latter was also printed up on a sheet 100 yards across and held up for the news helicopters to film, a stroke of genius.

Contrast this with the behaviour at many Leaver events. The committed are really angry, without apparent dilution by the self-deprecating, ironic streak of the average Remainer. Many point to civil unrest as a reason to cave in – some violence is a virtual certainty, but one that should not faze a bulldog nation that stood up to Hitler, the IRA and ISIS, as patriots never stop reminding us.

In parallel with all this, the previously mentioned petition, on an official government website, suddenly blew up on Wednesday – moments after May had delivered her ‘you, the people’ speech. ‘I’m on your side’. she said. It got under everyone’s skin. Within a short period the petition was being shared far and wide, as people sought the only means available to distance themselves from the “hive-mind with but a single thought” this obsessive woman tries to portray us as. 1,000 signatures a minute, it crashed the site several times. 2 million a day at peak (Thu/Fri), and presently sitting around the 5.3 million mark and rising. That’s 5 million people who just want to say “Stop” – not even “put it to the people”; Stop. Leavers are falling over themselves to try and discredit it, one site with terrible journalistic standards but a seat on a BBC panel trying to make something of the fact that many signatures were from ‘foreign places’. The fact that citizens are still allowed out of the country from time to time may help to explain this sinister pattern! Or you’ll hear it’s bots, or it’s people with 10,000 email addresses each and a lot of time on their hands … I jokingly commented that most of the people on the march yesterday were robots or foreigners, plus a bunch running from end to end like a kid in a panoramic school photo to bulk the numbers. It was almost Trumpian in scale!

Now, will any of this make a difference? Perhaps not. As I write, we leave on Friday, with no deal. Please send blankets.

*** Intellectual honesty demands that I dial this figure down. Crowd experts say about half that figure. Fair enough. Nonetheless, my Facebook post saying I was going picked up 27 ‘likes’, none of whom went. I’ll assume their support, and multiply it. I’ll discount the one Brexiteer who was possibly confused which march I was talking about!

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346 thoughts on “A million, huh?

  1. Allan Miller: Bad news for me with my shedload of euros bought in Jan as cash deposit for a skiing chalet with no chance to spend before return. Yes, I know, middle class first world problems!

    You never know. There could be some new disaster over the horizon. I did hear there would be a big problem with Brit employees of various skiing-oriented businesses in the French Alps that rely on secondment (something that allows EU citizens to work six months in another EU country without re-registering under social security etc). Brexit would put a stop to that, apparently.

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  2. walto: I again wonder what you think the point is of wilfully ignorant posting in that case.

    In what case? I am ignorant (wilfully, I don’t think so) of what you are on about.

    Why say anything about anybody or anything if you admittedly often have no idea what the hell you’re talking about.

    I have that problem with you. I don’t know what you are on about.

    Lull phobia? Attention deficit?

    I just have no idea what you are on about when you claim I was misunderstanding petrushka and Patrick. Not understanding is different from misunderstanding. I give up.

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  3. faded_Glory: One of the good things of the EU is that it combines overarching rule making in certain fields, mainly to do with economics, with safeguarding distinct regional differences. Unlike many nation states, the EU doesn’t begrudge minorities their own language and customs and actively supports their preservation. For some reason the Leavers are unable to see this. They complain about the EU forcing them to give up their indentities. I can only think that they don’t travel much in Europe. National characteristics are alive and well. What homogenisation there is seems more driven by American influences than pan-European ones.

    Exactly. This is what I was trying to get over to dazz. The EU could help defuse Catalan aspirations. More autonomy in a greater overall federation. I see it working as well with Scotland and could eventually help deliver a united Ireland.

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  4. dazz: I just despise nationalism, I think it’s a toxic, brainless, divisive ideology. Got lots of stories to tell about stupid, evil nationalists of both sides here.

    Sure! I was just suggesting a little compromise and pragmatism might reduce the confrontation. It seemed very heavy-handed jailing Catalan national leaders just for organising a referendum.

    A united states of Europe is a way to offset Putin’s attempts to destabilise and regain control of the Baltic states.

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  5. dazz:
    Putin must be salivating over all this crap. SMFH

    I’m sure he has been doing more than that. At least the US got an investigation into shenanigans over Trump’s election. UK gov have turned a blind eye to allegations of Russian involvement in the UK EU referendum.

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  6. Alan Fox: Sure! I was just suggesting a little compromise and pragmatism might reduce the confrontation.

    Agreed, but the independentists have been seeking confrontation for years. And of course they got what they wanted from the spanish right. I think I have already mentioned this, but independentist politician Joan Tardà once was asked in an interview if they realised that forcing the referendum illegally would probably make the central government apply the article 155, suspending the catalan autonomy and taking over all it’s duties. He replied “That would be great for us!”

    They’ve been spreading obnoxious lies, like claiming that the spanish government told them that there would be blood on the streets if they dared call for demonstrations after the referendum and the declaration of independence. They made the claim weeks after the demonstrations took place. Can you see the problem there? If it was true they should at least have warned the population that they would be risking their lives. They are fanatic morons without scruples.

    Alan Fox: It seemed very heavy-handed jailing Catalan national leaders just for organising a referendum.

    That’s an outright lie. They are not in jail for organising the referendum. The charges are:

    1. Rebellion/Sedition, for calling the population out on the streets, to force the celebration of the referendum through intimidation and violence, and eventually declaring independence. Also for using the local police to bring about the referendum. I think this charge is ridiculous and a huge mistake, even though there are certainly violent groups among the independentist activists, like the CDRs, despite their claims of being a pacific movement.

    2. Misappropriation of public funds, to fund the whole campaign and the referendum itself.

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  7. dazz: 1. Rebellion/Sedition, for calling the population out on the streets, to force the celebration of the referendum through intimidation and violence, and eventually declaring independence. Also for using the local police to bring about the referendum. I think this charge is ridiculous and a huge mistake, even though there are certainly violent groups among the independentist activists, like the CDRs, despite their claims of being a pacific movement.

    Rajoy did not need to attempt to physically disrupt the voting. He could have let it go ahead and just ignored the result. There would have been no or little violence

    2. Misappropriation of public funds, to fund the whole campaign and the referendum itself.

    The sensible way to have dealt with that would have been financial penalties. Whose money was spent on the referendum?

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  8. Alan Fox: A united states of Europe is a way to offset Putin’s attempts to destabilise and regain control of the Baltic states.

    Just curious if you think becoming dependent on Russian natural gas is a good start toward being free of Russian influence.

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  9. Alan Fox: Rajoy did not need to attempt to physically disrupt the voting. He could have let it go ahead and just ignored the result. There would have been no or little violence

    Yep, just like they did the first time around. Did you know there was a previous “referendum” in 2014? It was deemed unconstitutional, but they went for it anyway. Mostly only catalan nationalists voted, and nothing happened, so they tried again. And they finally got what they wanted

    Alan Fox: Whose money was spent on the referendum?

    Public funds of the catalan autonomy, I think

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  10. dazz: And they finally got what they wanted.

    Confrontation with Rajoy? I’m not convinced that a majority of Catalans want full independence. Nor am I convinced it would benefit them. EU spokesmen were quick not to leap to defence of Catalan aspirations and an autonomous Catalunya would only work within the EU, I think. I do think Catalans are a distinct nation and deserve some acknowledgement of that.

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  11. Alan Fox: Confrontation with Rajoy?

    Confrontation with anyone who doesn’t conform to their agenda. I’ve been called a fascist myself, simply for refusing to debate these issues in their retarded manichean terms. And that was a long time friend of mine. Spanish nationalists are the same. You either buy their rhetoric or you’re a traitor and a catalanist. It’s so infuriating.

    Alan Fox: I’m not convinced that a majority of Catalans want full independence. Nor am I convinced it would benefit them. EU spokesmen were quick not to leap to defence of Catalan aspirations and an autonomous Catalunya would only work within the EU, I think

    You’re missing the mark here. There’s been a massive surge in support for independentism in the last few years. Why?. There’s no a rational debate to be had anymore. Economics don’t seem to matter at all. You don’t hear anybody arguing about these things anymore, it’s all yellow ribbons, political prisoners, imprisoned politicians, blah, blah, blah. And that’s because the independentist don’t give a shit about anything other than independence, and the spanish right are also a bunch of corrupt, irresponsible morons. They feed each other, they need their nemesis to scrape support and votes.

    Alan Fox: I do think Catalans are a distinct nation and deserve some acknowledgement of that.

    What makes something a distinct nation and why should anybody care? But it doesn’t matter. Nationalists crave for independence. Anything else won’t cut it. Rings a bell? Just like brexiters, leave means leave they say. There’s a democratic mandate, they affirm.

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  12. Alan Fox: So they paid for their own referendum?

    The referendum, the campaign, everything. It’s a legal matter, if you spend public funds in an illegal referendum, that’s technically misappropriation.

    One may argue that it was still legitimate, but what about the other half of the population who opposed the referendum? Catalanists shamelessly lie and claim that a large portion of the catalan population want to vote in a referendum, but they will omit a tiny detail: many of those opposed the unilateral way and the celebration of a referendum unless it was in agreement with the central government. The catalan government ignored that and pressed on. That’s hardly legit IMO

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  13. dazz: What makes something a distinct nation and why should anybody care?

    Well, you could ask that of quite a number of European nations. Latvia, a country of less than two million people, fought and survived both German and Russian oppression. Putin would still like it as a Russian fiefdom. Do Latvians deserve their independence within the EU?

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  14. dazz: One may argue that it was still legitimate, but what about the other half of the population who opposed the referendum? Catalanists shamelessly lie and claim that a large portion of the catalan population want to vote in a referendum, but they will omit a tiny detail: many of those opposed the unilateral way and the celebration of a referendum unless it was in agreement with the central government. The catalan government ignored that and pressed on. That’s hardly legit IMO

    Wouldn’t a referendum, properly conducted, with participation from all those living in the region, clarify what percentage of Catalans support independence or greater autonomy?

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  15. Alan Fox: Well, you could ask that of quite a number of European nations. Latvia, a country of less than two million people, fought and survived both German and Russian oppression. Putin would still like it as a Russian fiefdom. Do Latvians deserve their independence within the EU?

    I do think Latvia deserves their independence, but you didn’t answer my question.

    Alan Fox: Wouldn’t a referendum, properly conducted, with participation from all those living in the region, clarify what percentage of Catalans support independence or greater autonomy?

    It sure would. I’ve always been in favor of the referendum, but anyone who thinks that would put an end to the conflict is very, very mistaken. In fact it may make matters worse, just like the brexit referendum did to the UK

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  16. dazz: I do think Latvia deserves their independence, but you didn’t answer my question.

    About what constitutes nationhood? Language is one indication. One group that missed out on getting a homeland after World War I are the Kurds.

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  17. dazz,

    It sure would. I’ve always been in favor of the referendum, but anyone who thinks that would put an end to the conflict is very, very mistaken. In fact it may make matters worse, just like the brexit referendum did to the UK

    The big problem was the way it was conducted. I believe – with the benefit of hindsight – that you must have a supermajority for major constitutional change. Of course that would mean that an apparent minority can keep the apparent majority shackled. But … tough. The status quo is a known quantity. The change is not. Given the glib promises made by people who did not have to implement anything, you really need safeguards against the divisive consequences of a narrow margin. It doesn’t help that some knobhead promised to implement, on any margin. It created an unreasonable expectation in the minds of an unsophisticated electorate, and a conviction that, somehow, he has by that declaration removed anyone’s right to remain opposed. Which is bullshit, but a very popular flavour of bullshit.

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  18. Alan Fox:
    Allan Miller,

    Binary choice was pretty stupid when one of them was a complete unknown,.

    Not only unknown but imperfectly specified. I’ve got a bunch of Facebook acquaintances telling me that, because ‘deal’, CU and SM were not on the ballot, hard no-deal Brexit was what everyone voted for. Of course – not being noted for their consistency – Cameron’s pledges weren’t on the ballot either. But that, apparently, doesn’t count.

    ‘Cheese means cheese’. I wanted Stilton. Didn’t everyone?

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  19. Alan Fox: *resists urge to plug favourite fromage*

    Stilton. The People have spoken.

    (Though in truth, there are many better blue varieties. But as the Express trumpeted yesterday ‘listen to the PEOPLE’. 51.9% 3 years ago. Can’t get much more decisive than that!)

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  20. Allan Miller: Stilton. The People have spoken.

    (Though in truth, there are many better blue varieties. But as the Express trumpeted yesterday ‘listen to the PEOPLE’. 51.9% 3 years ago. Can’t get much more decisive than that!)

    If you avoid Société brand (difficult to do as they are 80% of the production and main exporters) Roquefort rivals (in the sense of surpasses) Stilton. Carles is the brand of choice.

    But Vieux Cantal (made with unpasteurized cow’s milk) is my favourite.

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  21. Allan Miller: But as the Express trumpeted yesterday ‘listen to the PEOPLE’. 51.9% 3 years ago. Can’t get much more decisive than that!

    It’s bizarre how reality seems beyond parody. (Never took you for an Express reader!)

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  22. Ken Clarke, one of the few sensible voices on Brexit in the House of Commons, on why another referendum would not be a good idea, and why there are better solutions.

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  23. Alan Fox: It’s bizarre how reality seems beyond parody. (Never took you for an Express reader!)

    I just see headlines on Google … honest Guv!

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  24. faded_Glory,
    I guess you meant to link to Ken Clarke interview in today’s Guardian but just in case you didn’t I’m adding it rather than editing.

    I think he’s right or sensible (mostly both) on most points, especially that the first referendum result should have been ignored but I think he should support a confirming referendum and revocation of Article 50.

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  25. Allan Miller,

    Not sure what went wrong, but I have edited my comment and hopefully the link will now work. In any case, the article is in today’s Guardian and easy to find.

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  26. Alan Fox:
    faded_Glory,
    I guess you meant to link to Ken Clarke interview in today’s Guardian but just in case you didn’t I’m adding it rather than editing.

    I think he’s right or sensible (mostly both) on most points, especially that the first referendum result should have been ignored but I think he should support a confirming referendum and revocation of Article 50.

    You are very confident that a second referendum would return a Remain vote.

    David Cameron thought the same about his first referendum.

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  27. faded_Glory: You are very confident that a second referendum would return a Remain vote.

    I convince myself I am. But I hope everyone could accept whatever result ensued from a referendum that offered two practical and attainable choices: a clear and specific deal for leave and an alternative choice to stay in and work for change within.

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  28. faded_Glory: David Cameron thought the same about his first referendum.

    Well, he didn’t plan for Russian intervention and didn’t organise any sort of defence of the EU as a positive institution.

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  29. Alan Fox: I convince myself I am. But I hope everyone could accept whatever result ensued from a referendum that offered two practical and attainable choices: a clear and specific deal for leave and an alternative choice to stay in and work for change within.

    The tussle for what would be the question on the ballot paper will be the same as the tussle for what kind of Brexit there should be. You’re just displacing the problem and adding a sprinkle (if not a good dollop) of populist-driven misinformation and propaganda on top.

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  30. faded_Glory: The tussle for what would be the question on the ballot paper will be the same as the tussle for what kind of Brexit there should be.

    Cart before horse. What Brexit is on offer should be clearly established and clearly stated as a choice on the ballot. Maybe it should be multiple choice (including no-deal crash-out) with voting by ordered preference.

    Maybe You’re just displacing the problem and adding a sprinkle (if not a good dollop) of populist-driven misinformation and propaganda on top.

    I sincerely believe the first referendum was a knee-jerk. We (well, not me, now) deserve a second chance. To crash out as we might is a disaster that will descend on future generations. It’s madness.

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  31. PS @ faded_Glory

    For an example of how to do things better, look at the Good Friday Agreement. Every household received a copy and were urged to read it carefully before voting. Why not that for the Brexit fiasco?

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  32. Alan Fox:
    PS @ faded_Glory

    For an example of how to do things better, look at the Good Friday Agreement. Every household received a copy and were urged to read it carefully before voting. Why not that for the Brexit fiasco?

    There was a Government leaflet and it was pretty neutral in listing the benefits of EU membership and the downsides of Leaving. You may not have seen it since you live abroad.

    The Leave campaign of course instantly dismissed it as Europhile propaganda and are still fuming about the cost to the taxpayer.

    Things have moved way too far to think that it is even possible for cool, factual information to have an impact on people’s voting decisions. If there is another referendum, the first victim will be the truth. There may be others. A leaflet as you propose will never be accepted as factual and unbiased. You are dealing with the same mindset as displayed by YECs.

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  33. Alan Fox,

    I totally agree that crashing out without a deal will be madness. The trouble is that a significant chunk of the population have convinced themselves that it is a viable, nay, an optimal, solution to the current impasse. I follow some Leave blogs (to avoid locking myself in a bubble) and I now quite often see what I would call moderate Leavers switching their position from a Soft Brexit to No Deal. I wouldn’t dare to bet on the outcome of a referendum that allowed a no-deal vote, either as a straight choice or via a transferable vote.

    Such a risk simply cannot be taken, and a popular vote that would allow such an outcome would be pure madness. Better to leave in an orderly fashion, then negotiate a position in a close orbit to the EU and see how things develop over the next 10 years or so. This isn’t what you would want to see, but it isn’t what Leavers want to see either. There is no win-win solution, a win-lose solution isn’t sustainable, so all you’ve got left is a moderate lose-lose. Tough, but hopefully an opportunity to learn some lessons.

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  34. faded_Glory:
    Allan Miller,

    Not sure what went wrong, but I have edited my comment and hopefully the link will now work. In any case, the article is in today’s Guardian and easy to find.

    My response was to Alan, and his surprise at my mention of the Express! 😀 The link was fine.

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  35. faded_Glory,

    What will happen, will happen whether I like it or not but at least there is going to be an election of UK MEPs to the European parliament. That may be an indicator of how much people’s opinion has shifted.

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  36. My concern over compromise is that it would be driven towards the extreme. All it needs is a Rees Mogg to tear up the WA or equivalent, and they simply get what they want in a two-step. This was pretty much made explicit by Duncan-Smith in the House when voicing his provisional support for May’s deal. They want to slam the door on Remain aspirations first.

    As to Clarke’s solution, what’s ‘a’ customs union? Just more woolly talk.The EU have been pissing about with us for 3 years. Let’s head off to Brussels with yet more attempts to kid the loons they got what they voted for. They’ll be thrilled to see us.

    A Remain win is by no means certain. But I think it worth a punt. The prize would be to watch Mark Francois turn purple and explode. On those grounds alone, it’s worth an each-way.

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  37. Well Prime Minister May said farewell yesterday. The reports are this is in connection with her handling of Brexit.

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