"Either this nation shall kill racism, or racism shall kill this nation." (S. Jonas, August, 2018)
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President . . . is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or anyone else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about anyone else." Theodore Roosevelt, Editorial in The Kansas City Star May 7, 1918. (And that's Kansas City, MO.)
Upon the founding of the European Union (EU) in 1992, Great Britain (or the United Kingdom, if you prefer) joined it. The UK had been a member of the several EU predecessors since 1973. The Union has a wide variety of purposes, summarized as follows:
The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardized system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, and only those matters, where members have agreed to act as one. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market,  enact legislation in justice and home affairs and maintain common policies on trade, 14] agriculture,  fisheries and regional development.  For travel within the Schengen Area, passport controls have been abolished.  A monetary union was established in 1999, coming into full force in 2002, and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency. (Great Britain did not adopt the single currency, maintaining what had been the Pound Sterling, which went back to a silver-based currency originally developed in medieval times. The currency is now known as the Great Britain Pound [GBP].)
Roman Empire Trajan 117AD. So, you think that the idea is new, huh?
(Image by (From Wikimedia) Tataryn, Author: Tataryn) Details Source DMCA
The far right-wing of the Conservative (Tory) Party had been opposed to membership in the EU since its founding. One major element of the EU was that it provided for free passage between the member countries by citizens of all of them, without passports or border controls. Over time, significant numbers of Europeans, especially from Eastern European countries like Romania, emigrated to Great Britain. Some of them took jobs that were usually filled by British workers, but at wages lower than those for the same job that British nationals would take. The Right to this day has characterized this happening as "furriners coming to take your job," when it in fact it was the employers offering those jobs at below-market wages which caused the influx. (Sound familiar?) This was a major factor underlying the "anti-EU" campaign: the reliance on some combination of racism and xenophobia (again, sound familiar?)
Briefly, the Far-Right drumbeat on "Leave" led a center-right Tory Prime Minister named David Cameron to call for a national referendum on "Remain or Leave" in 2016. Everyone, including many of the pre-vote pollsters, thought that Remain would win. The Leave campaign was led by the current Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who told monster lies, from the amount of money which would go the British National Health Service after "Leaving" won to the amount of money the U.K. would save in dues to the EU if it left. Oh my. telling Big Lies in a political campaign. (Sound familiar?) At any rate over the ensuing three years, during which a peaceful exit was to be negotiated, a center-right Tory Prime Minister, Theresa May, with a varying but nevertheless thin majority in the ruling House of Commons, failed to achieve that result.
New elections were finally held late last year. The primary opposition party, Labour, could never get its act together on what its position on Brexit was and the Tories won a resounding victory. Running on the old reliables, especially xenophobia --- they are coming to take your jobs --- they now command a substantial majority in the House of Commons, a majority dominated by the right-wing of the Party. Many of the old Cameronites are gone, along with many Labour members, especially from the depressed North-East of the country, a former Labour stronghold. The outcome of that bodes ill in the long run for the British economy.
After the European Parliament ratified an agreement on January 29, 2020, the UK formally withdrew from the EU on January 31.
But it is what is happening right now at home on the politico-governmental front is absolutely fascinating. To me it reveals what for the Tory Right, Brexit was really all about, at least in part: achieving a commanding, Far Right Tory majority in the House of Commons so that major changes in the British Constitution could be made. (And for information on what is going on in that particular regard I am most grateful for the article "Après Brexit" by the British historian Ferdinand Mount, which appeared in the London Review of Books, 20 Feb. 2020.)
Unlike the U.S. Constitution, the British Constitution is not a single written document. It is rather a collection of laws, traditions, customs, norms, and "generally understood" practices of legislation, legislating, and government operations, some which can be traced back to the adoption of the Magna Carta in 1215 (!!!). In modern times, major changes in it, for example by legislation, have been the reduction in the legislative authority of the upper chamber in the British Parliament, the House of Lords, in 1911, and the creation of a Supreme Court separate from its predecessor in the House of Lords in 2003.
There are/were many features of the British Constitution that were anathema to the Tory Far-Right. And so they began to move on them:
· The relative independence of Parliamentary legislative committees from the power of the Prime minister has been greatly reduced under the new, Rightist, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
· A reduction in the force of laws and government institutions designed to protect human rights is underway.
· The reduction of the devolved-over-time powers of the component parts of the "United Kingdom of England Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland," is a target, such that, for example, Scotland is now forbidden to ever again hold a referendum on independence (to which it was formerly entitled --- and the one held in 2014 came within 10 points of succeeding) and the powers of the Government of Scotland have been reduced.
· The possible physical removal of the House of Lords, which in modern times has sometimes been a moderating/liberal force in government, from Westminster Palace in London (commonly known as the House of Commons even though it does house the House the Lords too) to a far-away location the North of England where it could not be heard from much, is being contemplated.
· In a country with an increasing number of native-born but non-white citizens, the taking of active measures for voter suppression, especially in those communities is being undertaken (sound familiar?)
· The repeal of the modern law which requires parliamentary elections every five years, leaving the choosing of the date for the next election to the government in power may be accomplished. (Now wouldn't the Trumpublicans© like to be able to do that[!]).
Thus, with these and other provisions, decisions, and Acts of Parliament made by a commanding Conservative Majority in turn commanded in the House by the Tory (far) Right, some major changes in the unwritten British Constitution will be made. However, most of these proposals were not spoken of much, if at all, in the most recent election which put the Tory Right and its avatar, Boris Johnson, in the catbird seat with a large parliamentary majority. A further change in the British Constitution would be, at least according to Prof. Mount, the provision of much more independent power by Johnson than any P.M. has ever had. In this, Prof. Mount is noting whiffs of a British form of fascism. (Sound familiar?)
But where, if you are still with me, does Megxit come in? Well, during the past three years, since "Leave" won out in the referendum, the British tabloid newspapers, a screeching form of publication, the most prominent and loudest of which are owned by Rupert Murdoch, have been screeching one message. They were all for "Brexit," focusing on the "they're-taking-your-jobs" issues of course, whilst never mentioning the planned major changes to the British Constitution were the Tory Right to gain the Commons strong majority they now have. (Johnson's predecessor, Theresa May, although no liberal, was not a far-rightist either, and to do what they are doing, the Tory Right had to get her out of the way.) So, noise, noise, noise was the order of the day.
And so, what were the tabloids to do, when the Commons was taken over by the Right, and those moves on the Constitution were definitely going to be undertaken. By golly, another distraction had to be found. And who better than (the now Duchess of Sussex) Meghan Markle, the once-divorced, U.S., actress, she of "mixed parentage," wife of the Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, sixth in the line inheritance to the English throne? The tabloids have had a most attractive target in the Duchess since she was Ms. Markle, and they used it with increasing frequency and viciousness. But since Brexit was finalized, and they couldn't make noise about it any longer, the screeching about the Duchess, and the Duke (Prince Harry) and their relationship to the other royals like his older brother Prince William, who is second in the line of succession to the throne after their father, Prince Charles, became ever-stronger.
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Increasingly, the tabloids were going after Duke and Duchess with increasing ferocity, most especially the Duchess. And I must say, that given that they seem to be a bright young couple (well maybe not quite very young) going about their royal duties, with certain interests such as concerns with climate change and gay rights (Prince William) and the rightist directions of the U.S. government under Trump (the Duchess, who also opposed Brexit), thoroughly normal (other than being royals --- which appellation they have been forced to give up), in normal times there would be nothing in particular to rail on about.
But then the screeching became so loud, and constant, and unmerciful, that the royal couple decided to give up their public role as members of the royal family, and move to Canada part-time. (The Duchess had lived there for some years, starring in a Canadian TV show). This move has been given the appellation "Megxit." I will not dirty this column by giving links to even a few of the avalanche of attacks, policy and personal, to which the Duke and Duchess have been subjected. Their move, and their gradual separation from both the U.K. and the royal family is now underway.
As I have said above, I suspect that at least in part the ever-increasing-ferocity of the assault of the Tabloids was ramped up at least in part to distract the public from what the Tory Right is now doing to the Constitution, something they never would have had the power to do were it not for the political outcome of the Battle Over Brexit.
This column was first published at: https://buzzflash.com/articles/brexit-to-megxit-why?rq=Jonas
(Article changed on March 6, 2020 at 03:41)
(Article changed on March 6, 2020 at 14:35)