Explaining Brexit

Since I’ve had several American friends ask me what the deal is with Brexit, here’s my writeup. Please note in advance that percentages from polls aren’t exact, because they’ve varied up and down over the months of drama; and of course, who knows how accurate the polls even are these days? My aim is to describe why the overall problem is going on and on, not to indicate whether this or that political party has 34.

Britain in the 1970s–what happened?

Once upon a time, there was a country. It had started out as loose association of battling nation-states, but by the middle ages it had become a kingdom. Some of its monarchs’ names are still familiar to every well-educated person, their stories still told in classrooms around the world. After a few hundred years, a civil war and a beheading, it was decided that the king’s council should be rearranged, and there should be elections.

Kiss your rights goodbye

England is about to lurch further to the right. David Blunkett is said to be planning further “reforms” which will partially abolish the right to trial by jury, and end the “double jeopardy” rule by which you cannot be tried twice for a single crime. Police will also now be allowed to electronically tag suspects who have not been accused of any crime. The right to silence was ended some years ago now, and armor-plated cameras routinely watch the‘citizens’ of Britain, piping their video feeds directly to central police monitoring stations.

UK vs USA in a race to the right

Just when I was getting scared by America’s lurch towards 1984, the UK’s ruling Labour Party have reminded me that it could be so much worse. The UK government has declared “a state of public emergency”, even though the UK hasn’t actually been attacked by al Qaida. This will allow Blair and his cronies to enact laws that would otherwise violate the European Convention on Human Rights. The laws, expected by the end of the year, will allow the police to get free access to passenger lists whenever they feel like it.