Opinion – A Brexit Fantasy – WSJ

For a very different perspective WSJ global view columnist, Bret Stephens, writes about Brexit and the U.K.’s referendum on whether to leave the European Union. He concludes that rarely do nationalist politics not end in statist economic prescriptions. He concludes without another Thatcher and Reagan, ‘Brexit would be that most un-British of acts: Imprudent‘.

Source: A Brexit Fantasy – WSJ

I have been a UK Conservative Party supporter all my adult life and at the age of sixty-eight that’s a long time. I remember well when Margaret Thatcher won the election – I was in California at the time. For me she transformed the UK and I was a great admirer. She was my local MP and I had the privilege of meeting her at a local Conservative Party gathering.

After Margaret Thatcher was humbled into resignation, I watched the Conservative Party tear itself apart over Europe. For my part, I have always been a passionate European – it fits my cosmopolitan beliefs and background. Most of my career I spent dealing with continental Europe, so I have lived and worked in many countries. I am very comfortable with life in Mediterranean countries and currently reside in Cyprus. I have had great sympathy for Southern Europe and the harsh economic treatment that it received from the EU to protect the Euro and the French and German banks that made risky loan decisions.

Europe is imperfect and struggling with major issues in terms of defense, immigration, employment and weak growth. A generation of young people, especially in Southern Europe, have been abandoned to a life of handouts and no work. Right wing populists are rising up everywhere.

The UK does not have a Margaret Thatcher, it has David Cameron. Regular readers of this blog will know that I have not been a great Cameron supporter. Rightly or wrongly, he is responsible for the Brexit referendum. Perhaps, he should have secured a better deal from the EU but the EU was in crisis mode dealing with Syrian refugees and the latest crisis in Greece. If the British electorate vote to stay in the EU, David Cameron will be in a powerful position to negotiate reforms with the EU – it will be challenging with national elections in France and Germany in 2017. If the British people behave out of character and ‘imprudently’ with a vote for Brexit, then all bets are off. According to George Soros there will be another Black Friday. But expect a political vacuum too, with increasing fear and frenzy.

I disagree with the Washington Post about Thatcher and Reagan. In today’s integrated world, political leaders need to be able to manage consensus for win-win agendas. I am a one-nation conservative and have been disappointed that David Cameron never really followed the lead of Disraeli whom he apparently admires. I hope that David Cameron emerges on Friday a better leader – he will certainly be bruised, battered and bloodied.

The rump of the Conservative right have aligned with Nigel Farage and his racist supports. They have lost the argument based on evidence, truth and morality. Either way, this weekend attention will be focused on the conservative right.

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