Brexit, Take 3

Yesterday was a big news day before any Brexit votes had been counted. Two major Supreme Court decisions, one of which voided a core Obama legacy item, plus the collapse of the Freddie Gray prosecutions.

But with the Brexit vote, yesterday became historic. On this, I think both sides of the argument agree.

I agree with Scott that by voting to leave the EU the British people have retaken their sovereignty and reclaimed the title deed to their liberties. They have also dealt a major blow to the overblown, overly aggressive European administrative state.

In doing so, they have taken a big economic risk. This, I think, is what makes the Brexit so truly remarkable.

No one really knows what the economic fallout will be. As Ben Casselman of FiveThirtyEight says:

No country has ever left the EU, and there has never been another institution quite like it, so there are no true historical parallels. And, just as importantly, no one really knows what Britain’s relationship with the EU [will] look like after it [leaves].

Casselman’s last point is key. How will the EU respond to the Brexit? Will it seek to inflict pain on Britain to deter other countries from exiting? If so, I imagine that both Britain and the EU states will suffer in economic terms.

If instead the EU does not act vindictively — if, rather than trying to bring to life the parade of horribles trotted out during the election campaign, it is willing to accommodate the Brexit — much hardship probably can be avoided. But again, no one really know.

Which course will the EU take? The answer may depend on who effectively decides. If it’s the EU mechanism, we should, perhaps, expect the worst. If it’s the political leaders of Germany and other key EU nations — leaders who must answer to their electorate for the economic consequences of EU decisions — perhaps we can hope for better.

The position of the U.S. government also matters greatly. As Scott points out, President Obama threatened that a vote for Brexit would strand Britain at the “back of the queue” for an American trade agreement. Fortunately, Obama’s days in office are numbered. I don’t see Donald Trump acting punitively towards Britain; he has already hailed the Brexit. Hillary Clinton undoubtedly is less enthusiastic, but I don’t assume she would punish Britain either.

If it’s true that the leaders of nations are likely to react more rationally than the EU to the Brexit, this itself sounds like a good argument for the Brexit.


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