Ian King on Brexit
By Ole Aabenhus
"The people have spoken – the bastards!" were the concluding words, when Ian King, vice-chair of the Sonnenberg Association of Great Britain, presented his view on the British referendum on June 23 at the SAGB's My!Europe conference at the University of Kent, Canterbury, over the weekend.
In his own summing up of his talk entitled "Brexit: Democracy in action?", he underlined the following points, trying to find explanations why the Vote Leave campaign won by more than a million votes:
- It's not because the EU is not democratic. It is so "by and large", he said, "but this aspect could still be improved".
- An example is that in modern society direct democracy means referendums. "Referendums are legitimate political instruments, but like representative democracy, are far from perfect. Unequal media treatment can distort the result, and a single issue like immigration can play a disproportionately large role".
- The Brexit referendum was only consultative. But, said Ian King, "a win is a win and a loss is a loss". "Our elected MPs would be within their constitutional rights to ignore the result, but will not do so".
- "Our partners want the uncertainty caused by our impending departure to be resolved sooner rather than later. The EU itself could break up, though the break-up of the UK could be a more immediate problem".
- "My advice, for what it’s worth, would be for the remaining EU 27 to go easy on the Greeks and not to treat the single currency as equally suitable for every new member: you can decree this in a treaty of accession, but not wave a magic wand and make all national economies equally strong. Bulgaria or Latvia are not going to be the new Germany for a while yet".
- "Let’s just conclude that Brexit was unexpected, unwelcome to our partners and has given rise to a spate of shameful racist attacks in this country. It has ended political careers and thrown the pack of political cards up into the air. It is too early to say how badly the British economy has been damaged by the uncertainty, and by any impending departure from the Single Market, but I am not optimistic".
In the main body of his talk, Ian King said that Great Britain might very well shrink to "Little England and Wales":
- A second referendum on Scottish independence "is now likely", he said. And Northern Ireland might follow:
"Even at the height of conflict there in the 1980s, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic was not sealed off altogether, as in Korea. Yet the logic of the Brexit fear of uncontrolled immigration suggests such a solution would be required to prevent illegal European immigration to Britain by the back door, or would instead lead to the Sinn Fein/IRA goal of British withdrawal and a united island of Ireland".
The full text of Ian King's intervention can be found here.