Brexit Risk and Nigel Farage: We Know Where His Mouth is (“England”), But is His Money Offshore?

To have “skin in the game” is to have incurred monetary risk by being involved in achieving a goal.


“Sovereign Man” is a brand of Simon Black, who is apparently a US national, but a resident of Singapore. Via his website, Black promotes offshore financial services to Americans of a libertarian bent, who share a common creed that shows, in places, a decidedly self-serving nature:

  • Global economic catastrophe is imminent.
  • Paper currencies cannot be trusted, but gold is inflation-protected.
  • Offshore bank accounts are a safe haven from (usually US) government “confiscation”.
  • Tax ‘minimization’, for instance via asset hiding in offshore vehicles, is tantamount to a praiseworthy form of civil disobedience.

The US IRS doesn’t particularly agree with that last bullet point:

  1. Avoidance of tax is not a criminal offense. Taxpayers have the right to reduce, avoid, or minimize their taxes by legitimate means. One who avoids tax does not conceal or misrepresent, but shapes and preplans events to reduce or eliminate tax liability within the parameters of the law.

  2. Evasion involves some affirmative act to evade or defeat a tax, or payment of tax. Examples of affirmative acts are deceit, subterfuge, camouflage, concealment, attempts to color or obscure events, or make things seem other than they are.

Common evasion schemes include:

  • Intentional understatement or omission of income;

  • Claiming fictitious or improper deductions;

  • False allocation of income;

  • Improper claims, credits, or exemptions; and/or

  • Concealment of assets.

Libertarian idealist Simon Black also has a Youtube channel. In 2013, the luminaries to be seen there, assisting him in his promotion of international wealth protection schemes at a shindig in Chile, included:

Presumably Mr Farage has followed his own advice, otherwise his video  would be rather hypocritical.

Right now, though, it’s not the Eurozone that is the most immediate risk. We’re getting set for a messy Brexit: London traders brace for biggest night since ‘Black Wednesday’, Reuters informs us. No one’s really sure what’s priced in.

So if Mr Farage is heavily exposed to the British economy, he’s taking exactly the same sort of risk, with sterling, that he advises loudly against, with euros. Yet he is surprisingly chilled :

If sterling were to fall a few percentage points after Brexit, so what?

Meanwhile, we already know that the Leave.EU campaign is an expert user of offshore finance. Here is Leave.EU’s rather funky Gibraltar structure:

Leave.EU, which has been backed by the UK Independence party (Ukip) leader, Nigel Farage, and describes itself as “Britain’s fastest growing grassroots movement”, was incorporated in the United Kingdom as a wholly-owned subsidiary of a finance firm based in low-tax Gibraltar that specialises in “international wealth protection”.

With that sort of expertise to call on, it’s natural to wonder whether Mr Farage has simply followed his own recommendation, got his money out while he can, and stashed his assets offshore: not in euros, and not in sterling either. It’s very possible that Mr Farage will be perfectly alright, Jack, in the event of a messy Brexit.

Less well-heeled voters poised to follow his lead, or not, definitely won’t have managed their exposure quite so slickly. Around 60 million of us, less a few, have all our skin in this game.

From last week’s “Brexit Flotilla”, an event that neatly encapsulates the insanity of this miserable referendum, here’s the same gentle warning, in pictorial form, via an apposite bit of opportunistic photo cropping:

Farage Caution

If we knew for sure his money’s where his mouth is, it would help us all to make our minds up about the meaning of Mr Farage’s sanguine assessment of Brexit risks. There’s still a couple of days before the vote: enough time for him to level with us.


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  1. PlutoniumKun

    Farage barely even bothers to pretend he is anything but a chancer* who sees politics as a jolly jape with the added bonus of being able to cash in on the side. In some ways, this seems part of his charm. He has a lot in common with Trump in this way, although he is probably smarter. Just as these things bounce of Trump, I doubt wider knowledge of his investing offshore would make the slightest difference to those who listen to him.

    *shyster, bullshitter, insert whatever local colloquialism you wish.

    1. RBHoughton

      Agreed he’s not quite respectable in UK but he delivers some triumphant speeches in the European parliament and keeps the EC on its toes.

  2. Tinky


    Can Smith provide examples of Simon Black either recommending, or practicing tax evasion? I see no evidence either in the article, or the linked post in which Black boasts of having paid no taxes in 2015. In fact, Black claims specifically that he did so legally. So either Smith is claiming that assertion to be false, for which he produces zero evidence, or he is making implications that have no obvious foundation.

    Does Smith really imagine that Black is trumpeting and selling advice that the IRS would technically find to be “evasion”? If so, and given Black’s relatively high profile, why on earth would it allow him to continue to do so unhindered?

    With regard to the author’s point about Farage’s possible hypocrisy, the evidence produced is purely circumstantial. Does Smith know what percentage of Farage’s assets are held in the UK? No, he has no idea. It is also ludicrous to argue that any UK politician doesn’t have have skin in the Brexit game. Take it to its logical conclusion: if the UK were to leave, Farage will be held to account by his constituency, and the only potential value of the above post would be that if the conjecture were to be proven, the public would benefit as it could be included in any assessment.

    1. Yves Smith

      Americans are taxed on worldwide income. And the issue Richard raises is US tax evasion, not UK tax evasion. The thresholds for foreign asset holdings being subject to FACTA are not high for people of means, which is who Black is presumably targeting:

      And Americans have LONG been required to file a report with the IRS if they have more than $10,000 in foreign bank, brokerage, or mutual fund accounts. Mind you, this is an aggregate across all accounts:

      Who Must File an FBAR

      United States persons are required to file an FBAR if:

      1. the United States person had a financial interest in or signature authority over at least one financial account located outside of the United States; and

      2. the aggregate value of all foreign financial accounts exceeded $10,000 at any time during the calendar year reported.

      United States person includes U.S. citizens; U.S. residents; entities, including but not limited to, corporations, partnerships, or limited liability companies, created or organized in the United States or under the laws of the United States; and trusts or estates formed under the laws of the United States.

      I doubt people who had less than $10,000 to “protect” would be interested in “promoters of tax dodges and hidden offshore hoards in tax havens such as the Cook Islands and St Vincent”.

      So yes, this most certainly looks, walks, and quacks like a US tax evasion duck.

      1. Tinky

        Well, Yves, with respect, the title and principal subject of the article is are about Farage and where he keeps his assets, so it is more than a stretch to argue that because Simon Black may be advising something that is against U.S. law (I’m not yet convinced), Farage’s stand on Brexit should be treated with suspicion.

        With regard to Black and tax evasion, the very post linked to by Smith reveals nothing remotely like evidence. Black claims this:

        “In my case, because I live abroad, the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion and Foreign Housing Exclusion have helped reduce my own tax bill down to zero.”

        Now, if Smith would like to dig deeper, and pen an exposé of Black, including damning evidence, I’d be interested to read it. But the above post is largely a fact-free attack, as far as I can gather.

        FYI I am American and live in Europe, so I am well aware of U.S. tax laws. And I agree with you that those seeking to hide large sums are attempting to evade taxes. But I find it odd that Smith would be interested in attacking people like Black for pointing out loopholes in the system, rather than focussing attention on the need to shut those loopholes.

        1. jabawocky

          I think it very naive of Farage to register his leave campaign offshore. Now R Smith has exposed this I hope somebody jumps on it.

        2. Pavel

          I’ve read some of Simon Black’s stuff and he is mainly about diversification and “having a Plan B” and financial autonomy. He stresses diversification of assets especially:

          * don’t keep all your money in one bank or one country (esp the USA)
          * consider investing in precious metals
          * consider having a second residency — he plugs places like Chile and various “investment for visa” programs (all completely legal as far as I can tell) — in case everything goes tits-up in your current country of residence
          * be sure to have some actual cash on hand — cf Greece and Cyprus capital controls
          * invest in entrepreneurial ventures e.g. farmland

          Of note he is very careful to stress following local tax regulations and warns US citizens to file FBARs.

          Re: Farage — he is odious and deceitful and hypocritical. Sadly, the same can be said for Cameron, Boris Johnson, and 90% of the rest of the UK elite, many of whom have offshore holdings — including as noted many of the celebrities and “luvvies” like Branson and the many rock stars. One small note in Farage’s favour is that unlike Blair, Cameron et al he didn’t support the Iraq fiasco or other interventions, so he at least has less blood on his hands.

          1. inhibi

            Farage, above all else, HATES the Euro. He hates its undemocratic practices of forcing countries to follow rules that no one even knew existed or voted on. He hates the “elected” officials who are not elected by the people. He hates the neoliberal economic dogma’s constantly proclaimed to be the necessity to evade ruin. In that, I admire that he has stood up to the Eurozone and its frankly disgusting lack of democratic practice since day 1.

            So what if he keeps his wealth offshore. They ALL DO. Every single politician in America keeps their wealth offshore. If you really looked into it, its probably the modus operandi of anyone making more than 500k a year. It has ALWAYS been the modus operandi and will never ever change, because the wealthy have power and want to remain wealthy to remain powerful. Can we be realistic just for a second? Some things are unfair but will never change, because there will always be a demand for it. Its akin to drugs. As long as people want to alter their mood/reality, then drugs will remain. As long as people in power are wealthy, then they will stash their wealth all over the world, like a rat stashes his food in several areas in case of an emergency.

            So why don’t we talk about the real issues here? The failed Euro that has extracted wealth from Greece and Spain through the classic bait and switch tactic? The Euro that has demolished the lives of 20-30 year olds just as they begin to figure out what they want to do. The Euro that has set in place completely undemocratic proceedings and tells everyone to “suck it”. Maybe listen to this speech before you start ranting about hidden wealth and how it doesn’t touch anyone on the scale of economic policies.


            1. Pavel

              Great rant, inhibi, thanks.

              I started out pro-EU and pro-Euro (as someone who lived in the UK and elsewhere in Europe) but there has been dreadful “mission creep” over the past decades and thoroughly undemocratic processes. As noted, when a country votes down a proposal or treaty they are either forced to revote or the “treaty” is renamed something else so a vote is no longer required (Cf the Lisbon Treaty).

              There is dreadful corruption and cronyism in the bureaucracy and speaking of tax evasion, Juncker was the one who allowed if not promoted the dreadful Luxembourg tax sheltering and money laundering. How the hell is he a “president” when he is completely unelected?

              The real people suffer and are fed up with the elites. There are nasty and demagogues (like Farage) everywhere, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t correct on some points.

              The EU should be scrapped and started over again. What worked for 6 or 13 countries 20 or 30 years ago doesn’t work today with nearly 30 with many more cultures, languages, economic conditions, and border issues.

              The mere fact that Goldman Sachs, Jamie Dimon, David Cameron, and Tony Blair favour Remain should be a big clue as to what it’s all about. The elites retaining power and reducing direct democracy.

    2. Richard Smith Post author

      Well let’s see:
      – The post doesn’t say that Simon Black recommends or practices tax evasion.
      – There’s no such thing as ‘technical’ tax evasion.
      – It’s possible that the IRS would consider Black’s offering to be indicative of tax evasion, but I offer no opinion. You could ask the IRS.
      – The fact that the evidence of Farage’s hypocrisy is purely circumstantial is the entire point of the post.
      – Your point about Farage being held to account by his constituency makes no sense.
      – I don’t accuse Farage of tax evasion either.

      Maybe you could reread the post with those pointers in mind.

      1. Tinky

        Yes, “let’s see”.

        – You don’t understand the obvious implication of this?

        “Tax ‘minimization’, for instance via asset hiding in offshore vehicles…”

        – You note the very distinctions made by the IRS between “avoidance” and “evasion”. No technical distinctions, there, eh?

        – The evidence being purely circumstantial is only one of the problems with the post.

        – My point about Farage being held to account by his constituency makes no sense to you, apparently.

        1. windsock

          No, Farage is not a Member of Parliament, therefore he HAS no constituency. Or do you mean audience?

          1. Tinky

            Yes, thanks for the correction. “Constituency” wasn’t the correct word to use.

            This post would never have been written if Farage carried no political weight, and he stand to gain or lose quite a bit of political capital based on his stated positions, and the result of the referendum, etc.

            So my point is/was that even were he to be personally protected (to some degree) from a Brexit, as a result of his financial planning, he has plenty to lose politically should the result turn into a problem (let alone disaster) for those politicians and citizens who followed his advice.

            1. windsock

              No, he has bugger all to lose politically. He has plenty to lose in terms of an audience. He’s the leader (retired/re-instated/lost a lot of internal support), of a fringe party that has one MP (not him, but one with whom he vehemently disagrees), whose sole reason for existence is to get UK out of EU. He loses, well he may try to make UKIP a prolier-than-thou working class right wing populist party – but his balloon will have been pricked. But he’s not in this for the politics. He’s in it for the attention and the money.

              1. inhibi

                BS. You have literally nothing backing your view. Farage has been a Euroskeptic since day one. He gets harassed all the time for it, by the largely compromised British neoliberal media. Who gains from attention? The media or a fringe politician? Obviously, the media since they make money off harassing Farage at every opportunity. Farage routinely gets pissed off with the ridiculous questions and walks away. Seriously, where do you get such a ridiculous view? Ive watched and read hundred of articles and video clippings of Farage and he is simply a conservative businessman who has all the faults of an Elitist but hates, with a fiery passion, the undemocratic practices of the Euro.

                1. backwardsevolution

                  inhibi – thank goodness you are on this thread. Thanks for the good posts.

                2. Lambert Strether

                  Let’s review windsock’s factual claims for the US audience:

                  1. Farage is the leader (retired/re-instated/lost a lot of internal support),

                  2. of a fringe party that has one MP

                  3. (not him, but one with whom he vehemently disagrees),

                  4. whose sole reason for existence is to get UK out of EU.

                  Inhibi doesn’t disagree with an of these claims, so I assume they are true.

                  * * *

                  The Euro is a currency. I don’t see how it can have undemocratic practices.

                3. windsock

                  “Seriously, where do you get such a ridiculous view? ”

                  Living in England. Having his views forcefed to me every day by the same neoliberal media which have fooled you into thinking they oppose him. They don’t.

                  Farage is as much an “elitist” as those who he criticises.

                  The public school educated (which means privately educated in American) former commodities broker just wants out to make more money than he can by UK staying in the EU. And UK is not in the Euro.

        2. Richard Smith

          The screamingly obvious *possibility* is that there’s tax evasion going on. But it isn’t 100% necessarily so. For instance if the offshore assets of US citizens are being appropriately declared to the IRS, it’s all cool. Furthermore, Black’s not responsible for whether people report their assets properly or not. He’s merely advertising a variety of mechanisms under which they would find it relatively easy not to.
          The distinction between “avoidance” (legal) and “evasion” (illegal) is not technical, but a matter of law, as the IRS, quoted in the post, points out.

          This time I can’t make any sense of your last two points.

          Bottom line, I think the extent of Farage’s ownership of offshore non-£ assets is a matter of public interest, given the economic and market volatility expected from a Brexit. But I said that in the post already.

          1. Tinky

            It’s obviously a possibility, yet not necessarily so? Ok, but even if I were to accept that premise, how is it relevant to Farage? He has warned in many different ways about the dangerous policies of Central Banks, and so any loose association with the likes of Black shed no new light on his positions.

            I’m not a Black subscriber, nor apologist, and have even made fun of him myself on occasion. It simply seems to me that your implied, disparaging view of him is used to smear Farage in the above post.

            As far as “technical distinctions” go, we’re in obviously in semantic territory, and have different understandings of the broad usage of the phrase. One definition from Collins is:

            ” Technical language involves using special words to describe the details of a specialized activity.”

            That strikes me as being consistent with how I used the phrase, and the legal distinction that you provided.

            As to my other main point, even were Farage to be personally protected (to some degree) from a Brexit, as a result of hypocritical financial planning, he has plenty to lose politically should the result turn into a problem (let alone disaster) for those politicians and citizens who followed his advice.

            Furthermore, given that he has been very public in his warning about the fragility of the banking system(s), and how it would be prudent to consider various options for capital preservation, I don’t really see a great deal of hypocrisy in his choice to privately follow his own advice.

            1. TheCatSaid

              even were Farage to be personally protected (to some degree) from a Brexit, as a result of hypocritical financial planning, he has plenty to lose politically should the result turn into a problem

              Farage would only lose politically if people are aware of any hypocritical financial planning that might exist. Creating awareness that hypocritical financial planning may have occurred is perhaps the purpose of this post, non? Maybe someone in the UK media or in UKIP will ask Farage whether he has any offshore assets. It’s a legitimate question, regardless of any funds’ legal status.

              1. TheCatSaid

                Those leading the Remain side should be subsequent to the same transparency re: offshore assets (and EU assets).

            2. Richard Smith

              Well, screamingly obvious possible tax evasion is still not proven tax evasion. I’m not sure what I can add to that to make it clearer.

              You may not have meant to convey this meaning, but characterising tax evasion as “technical” tax evasion does look like an attempt to minimize its illegality. “Technically illegal” is a common phrase, referring to an outdated and oft-broken law that no-one’s very bothered about enforcing.

              The point about the political downside is explicitly not the point of my post: see the epigram explaining the term “skin in the game”.

              Lastly, you make it very clear the possibility that Farage is campaigning for a potentially economically disastrous course of action, whilst having insulated himself from those consequences, simply doesn’t bother you. It bothers me, though, because I have more to lose from mistakenly trusting Farage. It could well be that the very reason we differ is because I have skin in the game, and you don’t. This would again illustrate why skin in the game really does make a difference.

              1. Tinky

                You’re correct, I didn’t mean to convey that meaning. I meant to point out that those (like Black) who highlight loopholes in the system are not the problem – it’s the system that’s the problem.

                I actually don’t have a strong opinion about whether a Brexit would be a bad choice, though you are correct that I don’t live in the U.K., and so don’t have skin in the game in that sense.

                But is strikes me as odd that you would focus on Farage’s personal finances when, as far as I can tell, he is still British, and plans to continue to live in the U.K. In other words, he presumably believes that Brexit would be the right choice for himself, his family and the country. It’s not as if he will suddenly hit the lottery should it occur, no matter how he has chosen to store his wealth.

                1. Lambert Strether

                  Thanks for sharing your concern.

                  What a shame Smith didn’t write a different article, as the reviewer who panned a book about penguins because he preferred pigeons said.

                  1. Tonky

                    Not much of a rebuttal, I’m afraid.

                    Oh, and Steve Keen has just announced his support for Brexit. God forbid he should have have any of his assets stored overseas…

                    1. Lambert Strether

                      Administration is a process of triage; I invested the time I felt the comment deserved. Sorry that didn’t meet your expectations, but life goes on and it’s a big Internet.

                      As for Keen: Fine. It’s not clear to me why one would not wish Farage to expose his risk calculations, in addition to Keen, especially since Farage, who is not an academic, appears to have actual skin in the game, as we say.

  3. windsock

    I read comments about Brexit here on Naked Capitalism. I’m not sure if most commenters are aware that we Brits face a choice that is not between good and bad, but between bad and worse – and we can’t agree which is which.

    1. Ignacio

      Yesterday I was taking with a brit on this. His point was that an inmediate effect of a Brexit vote would be political: Scotland and North Ireland asking for UK-xit as they clearly are pro-EU and use this question in independence terms.

      I believe that in the end the vote will be quite divided, something similar to 50-50 and this is not a clear mandate for brexit. Nevertheless the Brexit referendum that Richard Smith describes as “miserable” is quite an interesting democratic challenge that goes well beyond the Brexit issue, but rises questions on modern democracy and sovereignity issues.

      It has to be underlined that European countries have been giving more and more sovereignity plots to the EU resulting in much lawmaking that is really out of true democratic control. It results, also, that the EU is politically driven by whatever interests that often clash with the well being of millions of europeans. It also looks like the elites are not interested and/or uncapable to bring some democratic control to their institutions. As a result profound social and countrywide rifts have arised.

      It looks like the british face an election between a mess and another mess. Which one is worse is not clear to me.

  4. AWB

    If the Scots didn’t have the backbone to secede from Great Britain, then I rather doubt the brits will from the EU. Not sure, why, exactly they would even want to do so.

    If they could manage it without the Eurocrats, it would be all fine and well, more like the British Commonwealth, however, it isn’t. It’s more like ceding sovereignty, in which case the best vote would be for an exit. That, and nationalize the royal assets.

    I wonder how much of the royals assets are offshore. Probably enough to live out their lives comfortably. Why all the concern about Firage? The Bank of England should be a greater concern. Let’s get rid of the financiers, and end this lock step march towards one world government. Or, do we really need the bankers? In the end, I think not.

  5. cm

    Is this a principled argument against Brexit, or just a cheap hit piece on Farage?

    I suppose after watching “Remain” capitalizing on an assassination, there is no such thing as “too low.”

    1. TheCatSaid

      I don’t see this as different from politicians in most places having to disclose their assets. Even though Farage is not an MP, he has a political profile and position of influence that transparency is appropriate–particularly if he is making use of instruments that are not realistically feasible for his political bedfellows and supporters.

      1. Erwin Gordon

        Not realistically possible for his political bedfellows!?! LOL!!! There is hardly a UK or EU politician who is not using offshore accounts. As someone who lives in the UK and worked for the EU one could hardly have find a better gravy train than being in politics.

    2. Lambert Strether

      “Is it true?” might be a more useful question than “Is it a cheap hit piece?”

      I would have thought that “too low” would have been the “hit” of the assassination itself, but perhaps this is my United States perspective.

      We have had a putative “pro-life” movement for years stigmatizing medical providers of legal abortion services as murderers. Every so often some whack job shoots one of those medical providers on “pro-life” grounds. Every “pro-life” advocate then piously proclaims “We never meant for that to happen!” and sits back while more abortion clinics close, the policy result they desire. Looks like a parallel situation, to me.

  6. washunate

    I love discourse in our contemporary era. I honestly can’t tell whether this is a hit piece on goldbugs, a hit piece on Brexit, a whimsical game of Kevin Bacon-style guilt by association, a satirical effort demonstrating the absurdity of the entire system of tax loopholes and deductions and credits undermining the concept of American progressive income taxation, or something else entirely.

    I wish good luck to our friends across the pond as you decide between unsavory options. I for one am more inclined to support Brexit if the best Remain arguments are this kind of listless, vague smearing, but then again, I’m a dangerous, radical, freedom-loving Yankee backer of independence. We hold these truths and a more perfect union and all that jazz. Wake me up when a Remain campaigner talking about the importance of cooperation embraces the rest of the free world by calling for the end of the monarchy and the whole aristocracy.

    For goodness sakes, Farage comes off as an MMTer in this article:

    If sterling were to fall a few percentage points after Brexit, so what?

    Yeah, so what? I would genuinely like to know what’s so bad about freely floating exchange rates. After all, if one is to embrace fixed echange rates, then the only logical conclusion of the Remain camp is to fully join EMU, formally replacing the pound sterling with the euro.

    So which is it Remainers, do you want a freely floating national currency unit controlled from London (and with all due respect, DC and NY), or do you want monetary integration with Berlin, Paris, Rome, Brussels, Frankfurt, et al?

    1. Yves Smith

      Lordie, you need to bone up. The UK already has a free-floating currency.

      I am very sympathetic to the national sovereignty arguments of the Leave camp, but they are lying to the public when they claim there will be no transition costs. They will be large. For starters, the UK will lose its auto manufacturing and other industries (not that they have many) since their sole purpose for being in the UK was to be in the EU (so they could sell into Europe tariff free) with more flexible labor rules than on the Continent. The Remain camp blew that by acting as if they could project the costs with any precision. They can’t.

      The other bit that Boris Johnson and Farage and their allies are not being honest about is that a great deal of their enthusiasm for Brexit is that getting out of the EU will allow them to weaken worker rights even more.

      So please get better informed before you go all knee-jerk on this topic.

      1. washunate

        Eh, I felt that tone was in line with the one Smith took in the piece. I do apologize if you think I went too far, but mostly my opinion on this particular subject is that we revolutionaries really have nothing to offer on the Brexit vote. We voted for Brexit in our own way and for all our minor disagreements in the New World, we have a remarkably similar overall view on things. In the big picture we are quite happy we left.

        On a couple of your substantive points, here’s how I might offer a slightly different perspective:

        The UK already has a free-floating currency.

        This is the bit that strikes me as the fundamental disconnect of the Remain campaign. If the UK (and especially England) really wants to be part of Europe, then they should really do it. That means abandoning the pound sterling for the euro. This having one foot in a supranational organization and one foot in national sovereignty strikes me as the worst kind of intellectual dishonesty.

        lying to the public when they claim there will be no transition costs

        Agreed, that seems to me a more relevant topic than what Smith wrote about here. Here’s where perhaps I’m just not familiar with what’s going on in the UK. Does anyone honestly believe that there would be no transition costs? The issue as I understand it is determining the preferred long-term arrangement. I guess I’m familiar with the challenges of change and so take it for granted that transition costs are part of the deal.

        getting out of the EU will allow them to weaken worker rights even more

        And yet the attitude of a lot of NC authors is that the European project is a wasteland of tyranny and oppression. That disconnect intrigues me. I am personally very sympathetic to the idea of Ever Closer Union, and I acknowledge that in practice things never work out quite as well as the ideal. That’s okay; compromise and turf battles are natural parts of organizing at scale. But because of that, I’m also accepting as an outside observer that maybe Europe is too undemocratic, too bureaucratic, too neoliberal to be worth participating in, if that’s how people who are actually citizens of European nations feel.

        Which has been one of the really hard parts of the last few years. It appears the leadership all across the major European nations are doing everything in their power to discredit the notion that a United States of Europe is worth creating.

    2. Lambert Strether

      Saying that a Remain campaigner must call for the end of the monarchy to avoid hypocrisy strikes me as the Tormund of straw man.

      1) That said, like Yves, I’m sympathetic to the loss of sovereignty argument; it’s why I think TPP is such a bad idea for the United States.

      2) However, it’s worth considering that our continent, unlike Europe, has not for millenia been a system of warring states, a system that killed tens of millions in the 20th C and which the EU, for all its horrid faults, was designed to replace.

      3) I’m also entirely sympathetic to the British working classes raising a giant middle finger to their equivalent of our 10%. It’s unfortunate that this referendum is the ground on which that larger cause is being fought.

      1. washunate

        I really meant that tone more tongue in cheek, especially the quip about Remainers and the monarchy. It seemed to fit perfectly with the absurd notion from Smith that a Leave campaigner can’t be rich.


        This is where we are at in the Western world, especially the sphere dominated by DC. Essentially all leaders are some combo of rich, corrupt, slippery, unsavory, etc., yet we pretend to have the trappings of democracy and capitalism rather than being more honest of accepting* our 21st century variant of fascism specifically (or perhaps just imperialism and totalitarianism more generally). We are confronted with systemic rot, not a few bad guys. Smith’s positioning that Farage is some uniquely distasteful public figure (and that this disqualifies the Leave position) strikes me as so tantalizingly obtuse that I couldn’t resist.

        I guess the one area where I would disagree a bit is your point 3. I think this is as fine a spot as any for public decision. The fundamental question is whether to embrace the nation-state or international integration. Clarifying that course can help lay out how to move forward.

        *because of course, once one accepts the reality of widespread oppression and injustice, that implies a moral obligation to do something about it…

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