Boris Johnson promises a Halloween Brexit. Don't hold your breath

A happy early Halloween to globalists, Davos regulars, jet-setters, and self-described "world citizens" alike.  Great Britain is due to crash out of the European Union, come what may, on October 31, 2019.

Heretofore, no exit deal has successfully been negotiated, let alone passed in Parliament.  Frivolities like that don't seem to much matter.  Prime Minister Boris Johnson proclaimed it so via Twitter: "The referendum result must be respected.  We will leave the EU on 31st October."

Officializing sweeping public policy on a character-limited social-media platform?  One detects towheaded shades of another Twitter-utilizing world leader.  Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson may imagine himself taking a principled stand, bellowing, "Fīat jūstitia ruat cælum!," waving the Union Jack at all doubters.  The rest of us, I regret to say, see the bumbling, jocund prime minister typing away at a phone with pudgy thumbs.

Like the Great Pumpkin's crepuscular rise, hardly anyone believes that Great Britain will be wholly sovereign starting November 1 other than true-believing, Linus-like sincere Brexiteers.  The terms of leave are exhaustively complicated.  How to exit the E.U. properly while keeping the Good Friday Agreement intact is difficult enough alone to scupper any real deal.

Poor Boris, who's yearned to occupy 10 Downing Street since he was in knee pants, has been chosen as the fall guy to give Brexit one last go, before, at last, surrendering to an inevitability toplofty Londoners have long banked on: the United Kingdom being inextricably linked financially to the E.U.  Ideas about a national home, sovereignty, Britishness, and the Treaty of Westphalia are, you see, antiquated compared to Barclays's balance sheet.

Brexit backers might see man as more than Homo economicus, but the economic realities of actually leaving were mostly elided during the campaign.  Exiting the E.U. — a grand concept championed by neoliberals concerned with maximizing commercial gains as much as government centralizers — was always going to cost a packet.  Economic growth weakened after the referendum results.  Some estimates show that the U.K. has lost nearly 2% in GDP since June 2016.

Was this really so unexpected?  The E.U. was conceived not just as a technocratic means to temper nationalism, but as a way to bypass putative trade barriers.  Free trade is the gravamen of the E.U.  Leaving would always come at a price.  Are Richard Cobden and the repeal of the Corn Laws not taught in sixth form anymore?

For all of Johnson's bluster about telling Brussels bureaucrats to get stuffed, he's trapped in the hard place.  Leaving the E.U. could hinder growth, at least in the short term.  Johnson has dreams of Churchillian grandeur.  He doesn't want to tank the economy, only for Jeremy Corbyn to sweep in and reattach the U.K. to the Continent.

In the wallet is always where conservatives or nationalists or anybody right of left of center falters when it comes to non-economic issues.  It's also where the right often backs down.  See Mike Pence's failed effort to protect religious conscience in Indiana.  Or the repeal of a Republican-backed bill in North Carolina that forbade males from using female-only public restrooms after the NCAA canceled its championship games in the state.

The rise of woke capital has put conservatives in a bind: where once they won on pocketbook issues, now they're on the defensive against companies using soft power to push liberal ends.  The result is, to quote Arkansas senator Tom Cotton, "billion-dollar corporations trying to dictate these moral questions to us."

Liberals, funny enough, are now on the side of big business, defending stock dividends against abortion restrictions.  Remember the impassioned leftist talk about the inherent dignity of all individuals?  Disney's massive tax break now comes first.

The reversal on the economic field is why there is so much doomsday talk about Brexit actually happening and what it will do to the world's fifth largest economy.  The BBC runs endless speculation about the deleterious pecuniary effect leaving will have.  Even a hoary old Marxist like Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn is putting out warnings about how Brexit will pull down the domestic economy.

Johnson can dicker with the E.U. all he pleases for a better deal to soften the coming blow.  But he lacks the upper hand to negotiate for real concessions.  Brussels can put the screws to London, and Johnson knows it.  Theresa May's years-long tergiversating showed as much.

I wouldn't expect a Brexit deal come All Hallows' Eve.  I wouldn't expect a hard Brexit, either.  Look for a final terminus to be delayed once more, with promises of even more vigorous negotiation.  Johnson and the Tories can't escape the oldest of political devils: the want of more money.

Image: Boris Johnson via Flickr.

A happy early Halloween to globalists, Davos regulars, jet-setters, and self-described "world citizens" alike.  Great Britain is due to crash out of the European Union, come what may, on October 31, 2019.

Heretofore, no exit deal has successfully been negotiated, let alone passed in Parliament.  Frivolities like that don't seem to much matter.  Prime Minister Boris Johnson proclaimed it so via Twitter: "The referendum result must be respected.  We will leave the EU on 31st October."

Officializing sweeping public policy on a character-limited social-media platform?  One detects towheaded shades of another Twitter-utilizing world leader.  Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson may imagine himself taking a principled stand, bellowing, "Fīat jūstitia ruat cælum!," waving the Union Jack at all doubters.  The rest of us, I regret to say, see the bumbling, jocund prime minister typing away at a phone with pudgy thumbs.

Like the Great Pumpkin's crepuscular rise, hardly anyone believes that Great Britain will be wholly sovereign starting November 1 other than true-believing, Linus-like sincere Brexiteers.  The terms of leave are exhaustively complicated.  How to exit the E.U. properly while keeping the Good Friday Agreement intact is difficult enough alone to scupper any real deal.

Poor Boris, who's yearned to occupy 10 Downing Street since he was in knee pants, has been chosen as the fall guy to give Brexit one last go, before, at last, surrendering to an inevitability toplofty Londoners have long banked on: the United Kingdom being inextricably linked financially to the E.U.  Ideas about a national home, sovereignty, Britishness, and the Treaty of Westphalia are, you see, antiquated compared to Barclays's balance sheet.

Brexit backers might see man as more than Homo economicus, but the economic realities of actually leaving were mostly elided during the campaign.  Exiting the E.U. — a grand concept championed by neoliberals concerned with maximizing commercial gains as much as government centralizers — was always going to cost a packet.  Economic growth weakened after the referendum results.  Some estimates show that the U.K. has lost nearly 2% in GDP since June 2016.

Was this really so unexpected?  The E.U. was conceived not just as a technocratic means to temper nationalism, but as a way to bypass putative trade barriers.  Free trade is the gravamen of the E.U.  Leaving would always come at a price.  Are Richard Cobden and the repeal of the Corn Laws not taught in sixth form anymore?

For all of Johnson's bluster about telling Brussels bureaucrats to get stuffed, he's trapped in the hard place.  Leaving the E.U. could hinder growth, at least in the short term.  Johnson has dreams of Churchillian grandeur.  He doesn't want to tank the economy, only for Jeremy Corbyn to sweep in and reattach the U.K. to the Continent.

In the wallet is always where conservatives or nationalists or anybody right of left of center falters when it comes to non-economic issues.  It's also where the right often backs down.  See Mike Pence's failed effort to protect religious conscience in Indiana.  Or the repeal of a Republican-backed bill in North Carolina that forbade males from using female-only public restrooms after the NCAA canceled its championship games in the state.

The rise of woke capital has put conservatives in a bind: where once they won on pocketbook issues, now they're on the defensive against companies using soft power to push liberal ends.  The result is, to quote Arkansas senator Tom Cotton, "billion-dollar corporations trying to dictate these moral questions to us."

Liberals, funny enough, are now on the side of big business, defending stock dividends against abortion restrictions.  Remember the impassioned leftist talk about the inherent dignity of all individuals?  Disney's massive tax break now comes first.

The reversal on the economic field is why there is so much doomsday talk about Brexit actually happening and what it will do to the world's fifth largest economy.  The BBC runs endless speculation about the deleterious pecuniary effect leaving will have.  Even a hoary old Marxist like Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn is putting out warnings about how Brexit will pull down the domestic economy.

Johnson can dicker with the E.U. all he pleases for a better deal to soften the coming blow.  But he lacks the upper hand to negotiate for real concessions.  Brussels can put the screws to London, and Johnson knows it.  Theresa May's years-long tergiversating showed as much.

I wouldn't expect a Brexit deal come All Hallows' Eve.  I wouldn't expect a hard Brexit, either.  Look for a final terminus to be delayed once more, with promises of even more vigorous negotiation.  Johnson and the Tories can't escape the oldest of political devils: the want of more money.

Image: Boris Johnson via Flickr.