Sunday, September 15, 2019

On Second Thought

I was wondering if anyone would get around to bringing up the idea of simply revoking Britain's Article 50, the one that kicked off the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union. If as many people in the UK oppose the idea of leaving as many people (especially Members of Parliament who oppose leaving themselves) seem to think, then there should be a fairly decent amount of support for the proposition.

But it's going to be trouble, one way or another. Even if there is another "People's Vote," as many of Britain's Liberal Democrats have been calling for, the idea that it would lay the issue to rest is overly optimistic. One thing that I've noticed about voter referenda and ballot initiatives here in Washington State is that if things don't work out the way they were sold to the public, backers are often quick to lay the blame at the feet of the state Legislature. They note, correctly, that the Legislature can intentionally botch implementation of policies that they oppose. Whether or not the Legislature does deliberately screw things up is a different matter, but the possibility is always there. And I suspect that there will be those Leave campaigners in Britain who accuse Remain parliamentarians of blocking progress on an agreement with the European Union specifically to make backing out of leaving seem like a good idea. It's a no-win situation, as someone is going to be unhappy. (I can also see turnout for another referendum being low. If there are simply going to be do-overs until the "right" answer comes out of the vote, why bother?)

It's worth noting that the basic reason why people voted to leave the E.U. in the first place, the idea that the cost-benefit analysis did not work in the U.K.'s favor, hasn't actually been resolved. And it's unlikely to. I don't really see the E.U. being willing to make concessions on the items that some number of Britons had been dissatisfied with. I can, on the other hand, see other E.U. member states deciding that making an example of the U.K. being a good way of preventing further talk of defection in the future.

But, if I were a betting man, I'd be willing to put a few dollars (or even Pounds) on Article 50 being revoked, and the can being kicked down the road. Politics is not really a place for decisiveness in decision making or problem solving. Otherwise, there wouldn't have been a referendum in the first place.

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