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Wednesday, 22 June 2016


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Not voicing an opinion, either, but should we not hope that it goes the way that is best for everybody?

Thanks - personally, I fear the worst if we leave. There are forces at work beyond what you will ever see in the mainstream media peddling icky agendas that have nothing to do with democracy.

Can I also return the thoughts for your country and rest of the world in a few months time!

[Thanks. I think we suffer from the same proximate causation...there was an interesting article in the New York Times yesterday by Martin Fletcher called "Who Is to Blame for Brexit's Appeal? British Newspapers." (You can Google it if you want to see it.) We're having the same problem here. The media is allegedly opposed to Trump but they are absolutely in thrall to him. Comedians rake him over the coals but at the same time are very obviously delighted by the whole situation. No media from the most serious to the yellowest can resist his appeal. It's Trump 24/7. He's like a drug to them.

Clearly, it's selling. --Mike]

And our thoughts are with you this November. You Americans always have to do things bigger and better, even stressful elections ;)

It could be worse, we could be looking at Trump...meanwhile something for you to lust after?


Thanks Mike, for your kind words. I'm off to vote soon.

So today is the day - a "once in a lifetime" opportunity to direct the course of a nation. Except that for those of us old enough, it's the second time - we had a similar referendum in 1975, on which occasion the answer was "Remain". (The UK had joined in 1973 under Ted Heath; Harold Wilson won elections in 1974 with a promise of a referendum on the issue.)

It's thought that the turnout will be very high - perhaps 80%. The polling stations will close at 10pm BST and the results will start coming in from about midnight. Although there will ultimately be a single national result, the count is being done regionally and each region will report its result separately. (This is also another twist of the knife, of course - in the years ahead it may pit region against region, possibly even the breakup of the UK.)

The formal result will be declared around 7am BST in Manchester, but as a result of the earlier announcement of the regional totals, it's suggested that the likely overall result will be visible from around 3:30am BST - that's 10:30pm in the Eastern US.

This one really will make a difference, possible (if the result is Leave) to a number of other countries, not just the UK.

The question for me is: after they win and Scotland declares unilateral independence at the weekend with the borders being closed on Monday, will they let me in? Will having lived there for 22 years and being married to a Scot be enough? I imagine the border security is going to be pretty tight. I hope they will because it's going to go hard otherwise. I've been practising my bitter drinking and mockney accent but it's hopeles: the party will know me for who I am -- an intellectual, weak, effete, insufficiently racist and with gay friends, to be sent to the camps along with the foreigners, the gypsies and the rest of the people I loved to photograph. These images, perhaps, will be all that survives: a document of a lost England before the vote when there was still hope for the future, before the purges of 'undesirables' and the eventual descent into a second North Korea, only recognised by other countries because of its posession of nuclear weapons.

Thank you. It's a tough, finely balanced decision (which is why the polls hover around 51 to 49) with excellent arguments on both sides. I guess that's why it's a referendum instead of an easy decision for some junior minister. I voted Remain but I could have voted Out as well with a clear conscience. I suspect that to a great degree the vote will turn out to be a vote of confidence in the government - they're not perfect but certainly better than some of the Trump-lites that would end up running the country if the government falls. All the people who have been criticising the Prime Minister for years may well decide he has a lot going for him after all when the alternatives are so dire.

In or out, doesn't matter. No country is an island. No more.

'Taking Control' is a rallying call in the Referendum debate. The homogenisation of laws/increasing bureaucracy is a fear of many.

The following article is not a spoof, it is real even though you may find it unbelievable.

Photographers might be interested in the state of laws relating to images/photography in public in the land of 'Freedom Fries'.



Europe is complicated.

If you want to have a look at how the public reacts, just browse the Facebook pages of the Britain First, UKIP, Conservatives, and Labour parties. Look at the propeganda from both Leave and Remain, read the comments, you'll get a much better idea of how people are reacting to this vote.

Now my opinion: I cannot believe that they are going to vote on such a complex issue in such a simplistic way. Whatever the result, it's going to divide the country. It represents an incredibly stupid way by the UK government to resolve several complex issues they are facing. It was completely unnecessary.


p.s. I'd vote Remain.

I don't ever remember any political issue that has been so hotly debated, both among friends and in the media (social and traditional). I get very heated on the subject. No sane person would vote for Leave, but as it would be inflammatory to say that on your blog, I won't.


Thanks Mike!

You may not want to publish this - and I will certainly understand why, so no hard feelings - but I would like to ask all your UK readers who may be undecided and thinking that they won't bother voting because they don't know the "right" answer to consider voting "Remain" in order to keep the UK's options open. We can alway leave - we can't guarantee getting back in.

Thanks for your good wishes, Mike.

My own experience of the referendum in microcosm. I was in the pub with two friends the other day, and we ended up having an animated discussion about the referendum. The barman asked us what we thought. One of us replied “He’s in, he’s out and I haven’t a f------ clue”.

Thank you very much for that, Mike. I appreciate the thought. In taking a neutral stance you probably couldn't wish us what I wish us, namely that it goes the way that will be best for people in this country *and* for all the other people in all the other countries who are deeply entangled with us, one way or another.

A feature of the election coverage you might enjoy are the "Dogs at Polling Stations" photos. As the media is not allowed to cover any of the topics during whilst voting is taking place, they've become a feature of elections news coverage: https://twitter.com/hashtag/dogsatpollingstations?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Ehashtag

This referendum quite simply should never have happened. The question being asked is naively simple for an extremely complex, intertwined economic system that we all live in. Unfortunately rather too many of the Leave camp are using this vote as a populist protest against issues that have little or nothing to do with the EU. I fear the worst.

Cameron will claim the remain as a victory, but it was him in the first place who promised his voters this referendum if he would be elected for another term as PM. Asking people to vote in a referendum about very complex matter where nobody knows what the outcome and the effect of it are going to be is highly irresponsible. ‘Russian roulette’ as biologist Richard Dawkins called it in an interview in The Independent. This referendum should never have taken place. Even now it is going to be a remain, it causes a lot of damage. It will take long before the UK and ‘abroad’ will be on normal speaking terms again and the internal political situation hasn’t got any better either.
Referendums are never about things the things they are supposed to be about. The Brexit side talks mainly about immigration and the Bremain side about economics. But in fact it is about nationalism versus globalism. Or the rural world against the urban world.
The EU was in fact an answer to the wars we had. As François Mitterand said in his last speech in the European Parlement: “Le Nationalisme, c’est la guerre!”

And for all Republican voters in November there is this French children’s song:
"Un éléphant, ça trompe, ça trompe
Un éléphant, ça trompe énormément"

Mike Chisholm/Yeats is dead right. However, it's worth remembering that "out" is completely undefined and the Brexiters have changed their aims/promises during the course of the campaign. It's only an "advisory referendum" not binding in any way on Parliament, which is sovereign, not the People, however much we may wish it so. Even the question is only "should" not "shall" we remain/leave. If the result is "out" much fun will be had and I cannot see what the end will be.

I don't think there are any substantial economic reasons for leaving. This has become a rather distasteful anti-immigration vote, rather as Trump is making the US election. Yes, people don't like regulations, but common rules and standards are essential and, in or out, British goods will have to abide by them whether the country is in or out of the EU, so why not stay in and have a chance to influence them?

thanks Mike

It has been a horrible time and exposed some deep fissures in the country,

But since we were promised and then not given a vote on the Lisbon treaty it was utterly inevitable.

Hope all is well in your beautiful part of the world


You never know what you have until it's gone?

I should remind our friends in the UK of Churchill's observation that Americans generally do the right thing, but only after exhausting all the other possibilities.

Mr Cameron played a trick off his sleeve in a bid to win the last elections and, although he won, things got out of hand for him. He tried to steal votes from the UKIP and conquer the rightmost Tory camp and, while he was successful at it, his strategy backfired.
Yes, it's true that the EU is not functioning too well at the moment, but that does not necessarily work against the UK: on the contrary, the UK managed to blackmail the EU into accepting a special status in which they reap all the benefits from being a Member State while being spared from any efforts to consolidate the Union. For instance, the UK does not have to take part in other Member State's bailout plans. They don't have to spend a single pound to help a needing Member State - though the latter would have to pay an eventual UK's bailout. The reasons behind the "Brexit" (I'd gladly hang the person who came up with this neologism) are thus purely ideological, and are impregnated with the kind of racism and prejudice that the extreme right wing loves to spread.
But it will not be so bad if the Brexit supporters win today: Mr Cameron will have to step out of the Conservative Party's helm, and chances are he'll be replaced by Boris Jonhson, who happens to be the british version of Donald Trump. If both of them become, respectively, Prime Minister of the UK and President of the USA, Anglo-American summits will be like a circus. And we all love clowns.

My polling station reported (with what they described as the village cat asleep on their lap) that turnout was, around lunchtime, about twice as great as for a general election. It looks good for a high turnout.

it's not who votes, but who counts...

The UK practically remade the EU in their favour. They are a country which has only benefited from inclusion in a wider economic union. I could understand Ireland or Greece wanting to leave, since they have both been unfairly treated economically. But there is no good reason for the UK to leave. Which leaves only the bad reasons: fear, xenophobia, a swing towards fascism... Jo Cox was assassinated for her belief that all people deserve the same human rights and humane treatment. Does the UK believe that? Let's wait and see.

It is startling to read what seems to be a unanimous position on the comments posted here. Unanimity is troubling.

You know what turns me off here? The term "Brexit." It elicits an immediate annoyed feeling inside me, as do all attempts to combine two words into a non-word that simultaneously attempts to label and describe an event.

I guess at least it wasn't called "Exitgate" or something. Our dumb lazy media would have done that for sure.

All you need to Know is in the last two minutes-

I vote in both Canada and California and the difference in ballots is striking. The former typically has one choice. The latter is more of a direct democracy, with voters having to choose between many offices and many sometimes-complex initiatives. Last month's California primary ballot, for example, had 34 candidates for US Senate. 34! Reminded me of the Gray Davis recall, with something like 150 candidates running to replace him.

I don't have an opinion on which is better, direct or not. Sometimes I think the California pols aren't doing their jobs, foisting on voters the big issues. Other times I think, better the voters decide than the pols. Of course either is better than the alternative. And no one ever said democracy was perfect, or easy.

Regardless of how the UK vote goes, this Canadian/American will always feel strong kinship with the Brits and unlike a certain short-fingered vulgarian running for the US' highest office, I truly value our allies.

Thanks for the good wishes Mike. Based on the length of the queue at my local polling station first thing this morning, even though we were suffering awful downpours in SE London, I think the turnout will be high. But I worry that much of the information people are basing their decision on is highly questionable, and I also worry deeply about the underlying attitude to immigration which will impact on the votes of many people I think.

The whole thing was deeply unnecessary: a panic measure designed to placate members of the Conservative party who were worried about the rise of UKIP, and a ridiculous guarantee by Cameron that the referendum would be this year regardless of how good or bad a deal he could negotiate with the EU. Heaven help us if we leave and then follow that up by a breakup of the U.K. (And I will be in the queue to move to Scotland). And heaven help the EU if other countries decide to follow suit - I predict a move to the political right which hasn't tended to end up well in previous European history.

I'm very cautiously optimistic but fear the worst....

I am very much hoping that this referendum follows the usual pattern around the world, and voters swing towards the status quo in the actual poll. The financiers in the City of London seem to think that this will happen.
A few days ago Jonathan Freedland argued in The Guardian that the UK leaving the EU would be worse than Mr Trump winning the Presidency. He would only have 4 years in office and his powers would be limited by Congress and the Supreme Court. But Brexit would be forever.

The campaigning has been a disgrace and the general atmosphere vile. As for most of our press, words fail me, yet again. Whatever the outcome I hope people can regain their sanity and start behaving like humans again.

There has certainly been an enormous difference between what a United Kingdom is and the so-called European Union, which isn't.

Well the polls are closed and we will know the result in 9 hours time at the latest. I expect it to be a very close call. I voted to join the Common Market as it was then called back in 1974, but this time I voted to leave, as have all my family and friends. The port I live in was once the largest fishing port in the world, but the EU has destroyed our fishing industry, so you can understand our lack of love for the EU. Other regions will vote to remain and I expect nationally the remain vote to just win, but its going to be very close.


English humour :)

Well, voting is finished. I voted remain, and now await the count.

As noted above, this referendum should never have happened. The several issues to be resolved were headed by the Prime Minister's promise, made to keep the wilder factions of his partying side.

The campaign has been dispiriting, and a good illustration of why a referendum is a bad way to decide complex questions. The campaigning has been simplistic, one dimensional amd appealing to the bases instincts in each sides' target groups.

There are cogent arguments for each side, which were largely not communicated and the final judgement, for me, also included consideration of the national government each option would likely deliver, as well as my thoughts on a range of longer term and supra national political, pragmatic and philosophical topics.

Let's all hope the result cam be made to work for us all,on and out of the UK, and that you in the USA also survive your forthcoming election and government unharmed and unharmed.


I have never felt so conflicted at the ballot box. I actually opened my folded ballot paper to consider my choice one final time. Even then I walked away from the polling station with doubts in my heart. I've cast my vote, I just don't know what I hope the final result will be.

Congrats on your Independence UK!

Ten minutes ago on German tagesschau.de: Apparently "Leave" won - 310 of 382 districts have been counted. In my opinion, this could mark the beginning of the end of the EU. A sad day. Even though I'm not a fan of the current implementation of the EU and the Euro, 70 years of peace and stability after centuries of almost constant warfare is not something to disregard. For the UK, the consequences are totally unpredictable and most likely undesirable.

I would not be worrying too much if I were British. When they 'left' the New Zealand dairy industry to join the EU's, we took a huge hit, only to work our way back to being the most efficient in the world. I don't see why the Brits can't make similar strides.

We failed!

As a Portuguese, I never felt like the UK was truly "in" the EU, not in practical terms (I need a passport to enter the UK, now I will probably need a visa too). As for the Euro, there are other EU members who do not have the common currency.

It's more of a symbolic thing, and basically means that fewer refugees will enter the UK. As a side effect, for example, many historical British families that have been dealing with Port wine in Portugal, now will have to start paying custom taxes, plus much more red tape, to export the wine...

As for trade agreements, I am sure several bilateral ones will be drafted, or have been agreed upon already, soon.

Does updating comments fit in TOP's guidelines? If so, allow me to say when I wrote, in my previous comment, that "Mr Cameron played a trick off his sleeve in a bid to win the last elections and, although he won, things got out of hand for him", and that "He tried to steal votes from the UKIP and conquer the rightmost Tory camp and, while he was successful at it, his strategy backfired", I wasn't showcasing my ability to predict future events. The 'Leave' win was written on the wall and only the blind didn't see it.
There are some obvious reasons for the 'Leave' to have prevailed, and the most important of them was that UK citizens were subjected to a campaign of fear and hatred in which topics alien to EU matters were brought against the 'Remain' camp. The EU being under the pressure of a refugee crisis, Britons were brainwashed into thinking that being in the EU implied having to accept the presence of - or be 'plagued' by, as Mr Cameron himself once put it - foreigners from Islamic countries who would strip them of their welfare benefits, steal their jobs and, crucially, bring terrorism to UK's territory. It's shocking that, in a country that used to accept and tolerate ethnical diversity so well, more than half of the voters responded favourably to such pack of lies, but you know what? Many Britons are still under the delusion of living in the empire where the sun never sets. They still carry an arrogance and bigotry towards foreigners reminiscent of the 18th century, now under the euphemistic label of 'nationalism'. This had nothing to do with the EU, which brought nothing but some minor inconveniences to the UK's economy, but was a bait that worked well in favour of dangerous blokes like Nigel Farage and other neofascists.
Which is all a shame. UK's severance from the EU will have unpredictable repercussions on the world's economy. Inside the EU, I fear the outburst of a financial crisis that will affect most countries, especially the most exposed Member States of the EU - Greece, Portugal, Spain, and probably Italy and Ireland as well. I am aware the EU has had very little to recommend in the past few years, but a bad union is a thousand times better than division. The European Economic Community of Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet brought peace, cohesion and prosperity to Europe, and now a clumsy, brainless move from David Cameron has jeopardized everything that was conquered during the last 60 years. I am now entitled to fear a domino effect leading to the extinction of the European Union, and the strengthening of nationalist, extreme right-wing forces all over Europe. WWIII might not be that far away.
So thank you Mr Cameron. You singlehandedly destroyed the European Union. Good riddance to you!

Mike, I fear you'll see triumphalism and resentment from a few of those who are political obsessives and from a few of those whose career is in politics. They don't speak for all of us!
At lunchtime on the 'morning after' I'm reassured by the good sense of most of those invited to hold forth on television and of my fellow voters to whom I've chatted today regardless of which way we all voted. The real point is that we had the opportunity to vote about something which really matters and were responsible enough to go and do so.
Our individual choices are of secondary importance. It would be marvellous if those who weren't sufficiently motivated to go out and vote yesterday are encouraged to become more involved in future. One doesn't have to be an obsessive to be a participant.

I feel as if I've had a leg ripped off. But I can think of two people, anyway, who will be smiling: Rupert Murdoch and Vladimir Putin. England clearly has a hubristic fantasy about regaining some imagined prominence in the world that it ought to have by right. It will soon discover that the only place left for it is warming the American lap.

The UK is going to find a great pathway forward through all of this, I have no doubt. You've weathered much harder times in the past. This is just a little blip on your great country's timeline. The doomsday folks are still waiting for armageddon even though it has come and gone many times before.

cheers and cheers,


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