Hard Brexiteers and the Poundland

On The Guardian, Joris Luyendijk, cannot undertsand how Brexiteers can say that the European Union will be indulgent with the UK over Brexit. Luyendijk claims that EU will simply defend its own interests as a continental and global power. And it is hard to imagine any deal where the disproportionate power of the EU with respect to the UK will eventually not impose itself.

A partially different take on the matter can be found in the The Economist. The newspaper wonders whether Germany – the most influential European member state – might push for a soft agreement with the UK, given the interests of its automotive industry. Their argument is that the UK represents the third largest export market for the sector, and that the trade surplus Germany runs with the UK is second only to the one the country holds with the US. However, on the basis of reported declarations by representatives of the German industrial élite, the authors claim that the “supremacy of politics” over “business” may eventually be confirmed.

Polly Toynbee criticizes supporters of a hard Brexit for denouncing as a betrayal of the democratic will any attempt to retain access to the European single market. Similarly, Zoe Williams claims that while many public discussions have focused on the leftist overtake of the Labour party, a much more important development has been completely underestimated, namely the overtaking of the UK government and the Conservative party by nationalist extremists.

Andrew Rawnsley discusses instead the positive and negative effects of a falling pound on the British economy, provocatively called “Poundland”. In particular, Rawnsley warns against the illusion of positive developments driven by currency devaluation. In the first place, Rawnsley recalls that the main outcome of the pound’s loss of value will be inflation. The latter will hit in the first place the import of intermediate goods that the UK needs to produce its own exports. Secondly, he underlines that the increase in consumption prices will hit those who have less. Thirdly, if there is someone who will benefit from a falling sterling, it is mainly foreign investors who may exploit a cheaper real estate market.

The rise of right-wing forces and the decline of democracy

On The Guardian, Owen Jones calls for EU institutions to fight back against right-wing forces and governments in Europe. Pointing to the case of Hungary – last week one of the main opposition newspapers was shut down – Jones claims that “the country’s future looks worryingly like Europe’s past”. Jones claims that Viktor Orban’s worldview is that liberal democratic states cannot remain globally competitive. But does the EU currently have any weapons to counter the rise of xenophobic and illiberal tendencies within itself? Jones calls for the activation of Art. 7 of the Lisbon Treaty, which enables the European institutions to sanction member states in violation of its norms, including with the suspension of voting rights. More importantly, Jones claims that the only cure against these tendencies lies in the emergence of an inspiring leftist alternative able to tackle the insecurities and ambitions of the post-2008 world.

Jones’ call is echoed by Alena Kremapska, program director at the Human Rights Institute of Bratislava, who depicts the worrying political dynamics unfolding in Slovakia, on the New York Times. Kremapska tells the story of herself having been attacked by right-wing extremists in the streets of Bratislava, shortly after having suffered public accusations from Igor Matovic, the leader of the Ordinary People Party. According to Kremapska, Slovakia is experiencing the rise of right-wing parties that capitalize on citizens’ disillusionment with the social democratic party. Moreover, she claims that the success of these anti-establishment parties is due to the failure of mainstream parties to deliver widespread economic well-being in the post-Communist era.

This Ideas Monitor is by Carlo Burelli and Alexander Damiano Ricci

Photo Credits CC: Charles Clegg 

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