Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
The day of decision on Brexit is fast approaching, and we’ll soon know whether the term will have a lengthy entry in the history books or be relegated to a mere footnote. Some of you may need a distraction from your troubles so — with the polls unbelievably close, not to mention just generally unbelievable — here is my hostage-to-fortune take on the future, either way.
Aside from the important economic, immigration and sovereignty issues, this is really an existential political battle, even if neither of the two main parties realise it. If the vote is to Remain, it will signal the death knell of small-c conservatism in Britain, leaving the technocratic big government center to dominate. If the vote is to Leave the left will be castrated.
Should We Stay …
A vote to Remain will not split in the Conservative Party. The high profile-figures in the Leave campaign will gravitate back to the government and the die-hard Eurosceptics will return to the long war on the backbenches. The result will, by-and-large, be accepted. The new political orthodoxy will lead to a further leftward lurch by the modernizers who lead the party. Big government imposed social justice will increasingly become a Tory totem, mixed (as it is) with the old paternalistic streak in the Etonian clique running the party. Thatcherism, meanwhile, will be pushed to the margins while the Wets will have won.
This “move to the center” will be made possible by the Old Labour leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, MP. While the center-left, europhilic, Blairite wing of the Labour Party will temporarily revel in their victory, they will soon see their base evaporate as the working class vote deserts them as the Scots did to the SNP after the 2014 referendum. Corbyn will continue with his unreformed socialist message — think of him as Senator Bernie Sanders’s humourless tutor — speaking to a core of hard leftists and unknowing young snowflakes. Unless there is an economic disaster clearly attributable to the government, or some other black swan event, they will be out of power for an election or two.
While Eurosceptism will not die out, it does not necessarily follow that the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) will be its only home. While much of the mud slung at UKIP is unjustified, there is an element that turns many away. The collapse of the thuggish British National Party (BNP) coincided with the rise of UKIP, leading many to suspect them of harboring the BNP’s xenophobia. Hence, we have two Leave campaigns: the official one, and the one run by UKIP. It is, therefore, possible that a Tea Party-style movement will be the child of this Brexit discombobulation. However they coalesce, eurosceptics will be dispirited but succoured in the knowledge that any further treaty changes will require a new referendum… and suckered if they believe the political class will actually allow another after this close run affair.
If Remain wins, the political landscape will shift as once Great Britain adapts to its new client status. A few of us will continue to fight a guerrilla war: pointing out that the new EU army is ineffective and undermines NATO; grumbling at the ever-higher budget costs and loss of autonomy despite being outside of the Euro; wailing as the EU takes our seat on the UN Security Council; howling at the loss of our beloved pints, miles and, the idiosyncratic British belief that the right way to drive is on the left …
The political center will continue its march off the Third Way cliff. They will follow the global governance gang’s edicts, simultaneously assuring their voters that they feel their pain while never actually being in a position to offer any solutions. The disconnect between the political class and the electorate will grow larger. The rise of the Untalented Aristocracy — those who are only famous for their telegenic features and vacuous opinions — will continue until a Trump-like figure emerges from their ranks (think “Simon Cowell”) who will take over the husk of one of the main parties in yet another new revolution against the elites.
… Or Should We Go
On the other hand, a vote to Leave is a Pandora’s box of possibilities. Irrespective of whether David Cameron resigns or stays on, the Conservatives will likely split. In what will amount to a monumental huff, Europhiles who have always put that ideology before party and country, will quit in protest at the voters’ decision. This should be limited to retired grandees rather than serving MPs, unless the former Mayor of London Boris Johnson stands for leader. If that happens, divisions among the Tories could well lead to a larger fracture, as Johnson will be seen to have used the referendum to unseat the first Conservative Prime Minister to win an election since 1992. Once naked ambition enters into it, many will throw their hats in the ring.
The intellectually bankrupt Left will be crippled without their big government allies on the Continent to prop them up. With only Corbyn’s failed socialist policies speaking to an electorate that no longer exists and the sneering metropolitan Blairites having discovered a vast disconnect between their globalism and the “bigots” (to borrow Gordon Brown’s description) who make up their voting core, Labour’s chances of getting elected will rest solely on how badly the governing party is perceived. With UKIP’s fox having been well and truly shot, a united Conservative party could get on with moving the British center of gravity rightward with a free-trade, low-tax, and pro-growth economic policy to capitalise on the opportunities Brexit provides.
This will require a statesman of some substance and, sadly, no one available seems to fit the description. That does not mean one will not emerge, as the times may make the man. If nothing else, this referendum has seen the rise of younger stars and one, very tragically, ending.
But putting my Yossarian cap back on, it is just as likely that Tory splits will lead to a Corbyn Government. This would almost be as bad a result as winning World War II and then electing the Labour Party of Clement Attlee in the middle of the Potsdam conference. However, as we could at least vote them out again, it would be a small price to pay for freedom from the EU, an organisation antithetical to not just conservatism but democracy as well.