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Blowing in the wind, blowing in the mind

[ by Charles Cameron — hair, Brexit, Trump, Apocalypse Now, and a forceful analysis of Brexit as lose-lose ]

The DoubleQuote above is amusing, and falls into an interesting category along with the fan-rotor to helicopter-rotor transition at the start of Apocalypse Now. The real equivalence the juxtaposition is driving at remains unstated, while a superficial resemblance makes its case. In the case of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, the wild hair in the wind is a stand-in for implied similarities between the BREXIT vote and the upcoming Presidential election US. In the case of Apocalypse Now, the rotors stand in for the frustration Capt. Willard feels stuck without a mission in a room in Saigon, and scooped out of there to be briefed on his mission up-river to Col. Kurtz in the very heart and horror of darkness.


Here’s a powerful comment by one Teebs at the Guardian, on the “no-win situation” the unfortunate Boris Johnson is now suffering:

If Boris Johnson looked downbeat yesterday, that is because he realises that he has lost.

Perhaps many Brexiters do not realise it yet, but they have actually lost, and it is all down to one man: David Cameron.

With one fell swoop yesterday at 9:15 am, Cameron effectively annulled the referendum result, and simultaneously destroyed the political careers of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and leading Brexiters who cost him so much anguish, not to mention his premiership.


Throughout the campaign, Cameron had repeatedly said that a vote for leave would lead to triggering Article 50 straight away. Whether implicitly or explicitly, the image was clear: he would be giving that notice under Article 50 the morning after a vote to leave. Whether that was scaremongering or not is a bit moot now but, in the midst of the sentimental nautical references of his speech yesterday, he quietly abandoned that position and handed the responsibility over to his successor.

And as the day wore on, the enormity of that step started to sink in: the markets, Sterling, Scotland, the Irish border, the Gibraltar border, the frontier at Calais, the need to continue compliance with all EU regulations for a free market, re-issuing passports, Brits abroad, EU citizens in Britain, the mountain of legistlation to be torn up and rewritten … the list grew and grew.
The referendum result is not binding. It is advisory. Parliament is not bound to commit itself in that same direction.

The Conservative party election that Cameron triggered will now have one question looming over it: will you, if elected as party leader, trigger the notice under Article 50?

Who will want to have the responsibility of all those ramifications and consequences on his/her head and shoulders?

Boris Johnson knew this yesterday, when he emerged subdued from his home and was even more subdued at the press conference. He has been out-maneouvered and check-mated.

If he runs for leadership of the party, and then fails to follow through on triggering Article 50, then he is finished. If he does not run and effectively abandons the field, then he is finished. If he runs, wins and pulls the UK out of the EU, then it will all be over – Scotland will break away, there will be upheaval in Ireland, a recession … broken trade agreements. Then he is also finished. Boris Johnson knows all of this. When he acts like the dumb blond it is just that: an act.

The Brexit leaders now have a result that they cannot use. For them, leadership of the Tory party has become a poison chalice.

When Boris Johnson said there was no need to trigger Article 50 straight away, what he really meant to say was “never”. When Michael Gove went on and on about “informal negotiations” … why? why not the formal ones straight away? … he also meant not triggering the formal departure. They both know what a formal demarche would mean: an irreversible step that neither of them is prepared to take.

All that remains is for someone to have the guts to stand up and say that Brexit is unachievable in reality without an enormous amount of pain and destruction, that cannot be borne. And David Cameron has put the onus of making that statement on the heads of the people who led the Brexit campaign.


Here, by the bye, is another tweet comparing situations in the UK (Brexit) and US (Presidential) votes:

Here the comparison intended between US and UK is not implicit but explicit — and I have to say, I find it quite revealing. The answer, my friends, the answer is blowing in the mind.

7 Responses to “Blowing in the wind, blowing in the mind”

  1. James Bennett Says:

    The comment by Teebs only makes sense if you believe Project Fear. There are no problems facing post-Brexit Britain that a medium-competent executive cannot handle over the next two years. There are certainly a half-dozen Cabinet-level (current or past) Leavers any one of whom could get the job done. If Boris feels he can’t he should step aside.

  2. larrydunbar Says:

    “There are no problems facing post-Brexit Britain that a medium-competent executive cannot handle over the next two years.”

    Well yeah. There are no problems facing post-Brexit Britain that a medium-competent executive cannot handle over the next two years. In other words, it will be, for Britain, the same outcome with that medium competent executive as it would be if someone of the highest order of competence in trying to handle Britain’s affairs, which I think is Cameron’s point in resigning.


    The world should get ready to deal with a lost generation in Britain, as there could be several generations lost in the US, under a Trump administration.

    Project Fear is gone,
    long live Project Fear.

  3. Grurray Says:

    We already have at least a couple lost generations now in America. Fewer married or cohabitating young adults than at any time in recorded American history. Young adults living with their parents at rates last seen in the Great Depression. Lowest child bearing rates among young adults in history.
    Middle aged Americans are seeing their death rates increase for the first time in a century. Debilitating chronic diseases and frailty increasing among Middle aged also.
    I don’t see how things can get any worse if Trump is elected.

  4. Charles Cameron Says:

    I don’t know enough about Brexit to argue for or against it. On the one hand, I don’t in principle like Brussels bureaucrats having the right to overrule British lawmaking, and on the other, I don’t like the stirring up of hatred and fear that appears to be the hallmark of UKIP. And then there are other factors way outside my personal cognizance, which will be apparent to others, but to which I am blind.
    Bearing that in mind, I am liable — to the extent that I comment — to try to draw attention to opinions that may run counter to popular perception. And since people and markets now seem to think Brexit is essentially a done deal, I find this opinion of interest:

    Geoffrey Robertson QC, How to stop Brexit: get your MP to vote it down:

    It’s not over yet. A law that passed last year to set up the EU referendum said nothing about the result being binding or having any legal force. “Sovereignty” – a much misunderstood word in the campaign – resides in Britain with the “Queen in parliament”, that is with MPs alone who can make or break laws and peers who can block them. Before Brexit can be triggered, parliament must repeal the 1972 European Communities Act by which it voted to take us into the European Union – and MPs have every right, and indeed a duty if they think it best for Britain, to vote to stay.
    It is being said that the government can trigger Brexit under article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, merely by sending a note to Brussels. This is wrong. Article 50 says: “Any member state may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.” The UK’s most fundamental constitutional requirement is that there must first be the approval of its parliament.

    For a more detailed legal rundown, see Nick Barber, Tom Hickman and Jeff King, Pulling the Article 50 ‘Trigger’: Parliament’s Indispensable Role
    My question would be — why the extent of the market panic, if the Referendum itself isn’t binding?
    James — again, the situation is obviously multifactorial, and I know enough about a few things to know how woefully ignorant I am of many others — but on a personal level, and very simply put, I feel more kinship with the Commonwealth than with the Continent. But then I’m an old geezer, and if I was young had an Erasmus scholarship I might feel very differently! I imagine, however, that that sense of kinship puts me in line with the tenor of your new book..

  5. larrydunbar Says:

    “I don’t see how things can get any worse if Trump is elected.”

    Exactly. Most people voting for Trump wouldn’t.

    If they did, I doubt they would vote for him. But you have to remember that there is an exponent between generations, and the difference between two lost generations and one lost generation doesn’t show up on most radars.

    I mean, just how bad can it get?

    As bad a Russia in 1995? You are seem to understand the concept of one lost generation. I am not sure any of us can understand the concept of two lost generations in the USA.

    I think that is what it means about Project Fear. To be terrorised is not rational.

  6. Grurray Says:

    If we want to really dig deep into constitutional requirements, the Queen could theoretically act alone on Article 50 if she deems it a “grave constitutional crisis”
    5. The Queen’s constitutional prerogatives are the personal discretionary powers which remain in the Sovereign’s hands. They include the rights to advise, encourage and warn Ministers in private; to appoint the Prime Minister and other Ministers; to assent to legislation; to prorogue or to dissolve Parliament; and (in grave constitutional crisis) to act contrary to or without Ministerial advice. In ordinary circumstances The Queen, as a constitutional monarch, accepts Ministerial advice about the use of these powers if it is available, whether she personally agrees with that advice or not. That constitutional position ensures that Ministers take responsibility for the use of the powers.

  7. Charles Cameron Says:

    I think for the Queen to act alone would put the monarchy at risk, but for “the Queen in Parliament” to act would be constitutional. What’s interesting, though, is how full of details the situation, whatever it is, turns out to be, and how little of that detail was known to those casting Referendum votes.

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