Greetings from Brexit Land, the country which gave you Brexit 1 and is now pleased to present the sequel – Brexit 2. If you’ve been paying any attention to the mainstream news lately, you may have heard that the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, recently called a General Election and that this resulted in a hung Parliament (a Parliament where no single party has an overall majority). Before the election, Mrs May had a good working majority and two years of her term left to run. She didn’t have to call the election at all, but did so in the expectation that the people would return her to power with a bigger majority, effectively giving her a vote of confidence in the Brexit negotiations. They didn’t. She has singlehandedly managed to derail her party, the country and the Brexit negotiations with scarcely any help from anyone else at all.
As if this wasn’t incredible enough, it’s even more astonishing that she should be repeating exactly the same mistake made by the former British Prime Minister David Cameron a year ago. If you remember, Cameron decided, for reasons best known to himself, to seek an unnecessary referendum on whether the UK should leave the EU, expecting that the people would vote the way he wanted them to (to remain in the EU). They didn’t. They voted to leave, giving rise to the Brexit we all know and love today.
Maybe there is a virus lurking in the fabric of 10 Downing Street (the British Prime Minister’s residence) which causes strange mental health symptoms in successive occupants. However, a more likely explanation is that we are in the early stages of what Kathy McMahon has called a “slow, sucky collapse” and what John Michael Greer has called a “stair step descent”. Let’s look at this through the “slow collapse” lens and see if we can make sense of it.
The main issue which derailed Cameron was immigration. The British public were uneasy about the flood of immigrants into the country, mainly economic migrants from eastern European Union countries and refugees from the wars in the Middle East. We were obliged under the terms of the EU treaty to accept an unlimited number of the former, and there was public unease about the limited controls on the latter and whether a proportion of them might be Islamic extremists. Cameron failed to read the public mood correctly and did not appreciate the strength of those concerns. He resigned immediately after the Brexit vote was announced.
The reason for the large number of economic migrants is because of the differential between the poor economic conditions in their home countries, and the better (although still not great) economic conditions in Britain. This is because economic growth is faltering across the world, but patchily, faster in some places than others. Although economic conditions in Britain may look relatively good to someone who is living in Poland, we still have to borrow money every year to plug the gap between Government spending and income.
The current round of wars in the Middle East, and the rise of ISIS, have their roots in the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the political and economic chaos which followed. The US invasion of Iraq, in turn, had its roots in US domestic peak oil in 1970, the point at which the US stopped being self sufficient in oil production and became increasingly dependent on Middle East oil. After all, if the US had enough domestic oil of its own, why would it waste blood and treasure invading Iraq? And if political and economic conditions in the Middle East were good and everyone had decent jobs, homes and incomes, why would anyone be interested in supporting ISIS?
Fast forward to last week, and Theresa May’s general election fiasco had two principal causes: the fact that, like Cameron before her, she had failed to read the public mood correctly, and the fact that as Home Secretary in 2010 she implemented budget cuts which resulted in the loss of 20,000 police officers. The budget cuts were made as a result of adverse economic conditions and the need for the Government to rein in public borrowing.
Unfortunately, in the run-up to the election there were two major terrorist incidents in Britain: a suicide bombing at a concert in Manchester on 22 May and a van-and-knife attack on London Bridge on 3 June, both inspired by ISIS: see above. This focused the electorate’s attention on the need for sufficient police numbers to provide adequate security, and Theresa May’s mistaken action while Home Secretary in cutting those numbers, with predictable results.
What we are looking at here is a gradual and patchy economic decline in Britain, Europe, the Middle East and the USA which is producing chaotic and unexpected results as the various parts interact with each other. In my last post just after the Brexit referendum, posted on 30 June last year, I said that “…there will be continuing political and economic instability for several years…” My prediction going forward is for more of the same and quite likely another British general election in about a year’s time.
The Post Peak Medicine website, book and email account have been offline for the last few weeks due to technical difficulties related to my recent international relocation, and various other existential crises which I won’t bother you with right now. If you have sent me an email recently and I haven’t replied, please accept my apologies, but I haven’t been able to receive any emails for weeks. I hope to have things up and running with a new hosting service in the near future.
Slaynt vie, bea veayn, beeal fliugh as baase ayns Mannin