THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain

Book review: This is London - life and death in the world city

I have been too delicate (or is it fearful?) to comment much on how different the London to which I returned to live in 2011 was from the one I worked in twenty years earlier. To friends I’ve remarked that the monastic silence I used to enjoy on public transport has been replaced by a bazaar-like Babel. I’ve mentioned that Londoners no longer make way politely for each other in the street or on the Tube. Most remarks I could have made however would have exposed me to allegations of “racism” and those are best avoided in casual conversation. If I’m going to say something dangerous, I prefer to do so in writing that I can take care about and revise!

A remark between friends in a bar that “it doesn’t feel like home anymore” or “it’s not at all like an English city” could get one into hot water — however harmless (and true) such observations might be. So, cyber-warrior for free speech that I would like to think I am, I keep (mostly) shtum. Who needs censorship when we are all self-censoring so assiduously?

This book, by Ben Judah, has no such concerns. It tears into those issues and does so without qualms. It does more than merely put statistics on such observations, though it certainly does that too.

“There is a whole illegal city in London. This is where 70 per cent of Britain’s illegal immigrants are hiding. This is a city of more than 600,000 people, making it larger than Glasgow or Edinburgh. There are more illegals in London than Indians. Almost 40 per cent of them arrived after 2001. Roughly a third are from Africa. This is the hidden city: hidden from the statistics, hidden from the poverty rates, hidden from the hunger rates. They all discount them: a minimum 5 per cent of the population.”

The author, a journalist, takes his readers into the parallel universes that make up modern London; universes that know little of each other and share one major truth — to them my London is a legend and Londoners like me (and the few of our descendants that still live here) are fabulous beasts. They are as likely to know a unicorn as us.

“Between 1971 and 2011 the white British share of London’s population slumped from 86 per cent to 45 per cent. This is the new London: where 17 per cent of the white British have left the city in the first decade of this century.”

He spends time with street people around Hyde Park. He hangs with a Nigerian policeman and a Nigerian teacher. He visits with the pampered wife of a Russian minigarch. He hangs with the drug dealers who serve my part of West London in a market I pass most days. He smarms and lies his way into the company of people who probably shouldn’t open up to him. At times I worried for the safety of his subjects such as the prostitutes talking about their murdered friend. Sure, he changes their names but the details are so specific that their identities are only protected by his assumption that no one connected to them will do something so “old London” as read his book. 

The pace of the change he documents statistically (he’s a recent arrival himself and has no emotional baseline against which to measure it) is phenomenal. The new arrivals have had little chance (even if old Londoners had reached out to help them — and we didn’t) to absorb the local culture or adapt to our customs. Not only do they keep themselves to themselves - they remain in the siloes of their specific identity group.

“There is a whole African city in London. With more than 550,000 people this would be a city the size of Sheffield. And it has grown almost 45 per cent since 2001.”

The cheery slogan of our age is “diversity”. It’s as real as slogans usually are. A black teacher in an East End school observes (having first asked to adjourn to an offsite location where she feels free to speak):

‘They say this is a multicultural school. But it’s not. The school is dominated by Bangladeshi and Pakistani Muslims, with some blacks, a few whites and EUs coming in. I went to a Muslim school in Nigeria, so I can recognize this.’

Asked if the children she teaches are becoming English, she answers

‘With black children they do. But with Asian children they try not to. The Muslims I don’t think they will ever be English. They don’t want to be at all.’

As the Guardian’s review of the book says (casually smearing Nigel Farage as a racist with its usual disregard for truth or justice)

It’s easy to imagine how Nigel Farage or the Daily Mail might exploit his material.

but someone should be exploiting this material, surely, in order to address the issues it raises? God knows the Guardian never will because these poor exploited people are cleaning its readers’ lavatories and keeping down the costs in their Mayfair restaurants. The native workers who might best be hoped to sympathise with their plight are too despised by Guardian readers these days to be listened to. 

The lost souls living in misery amidst London’s wealth have been drawn here by lies. Not ours but those of people traffickers who hold many of them in near slavery among us; making them pay off at 100% interest the debts incurred to get here while threatening to harm the families back home they came here to help. Or their lies and those of compatriots who came here before them who make up success stories to “protect” their families from the squalid truth.

They dared to come here illegally because of half-truths about our respect for legal rights — portrayed to them as weakness. Yet those rights — pace the Daily Mail — are not the problem. It’s the weakness of the enforcement of our laws that leaves them here in legal limbo.

The book is not well-crafted. A good editor could have made it more pleasurable to read but this is not literature but journalism. It’s the literary equivalent of a visit to Auschwitz — a moral duty from which enlightenment, not pleasure, should be expected. I commend it to you not for your enjoyment but for the benefit of your soul. 


A great weekend

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Brexit Day went off well. I arrived early at the pub on Whitehall to find it crammed. I bought a drink and made like a hawk. Eventually a seat became vacant and I swooped. I held that perch until my friend joined me and it was time for the official party. 

The mood was not triumphalist at all, though it was jolly. My table companions, Deirdre from Wales, Chef Matt from Bristol, the Rev Simon Sideways (resplendent in Union Jack suit, tie and tie pin) and others were more than anything else relieved that our democracy had shakily worked so that things had not turned nasty. Only one Remoaner made an appearance — a cyclist who went by as my friends were smoking outside. He jeered and a Leaver from the North said “come on mate, shake our hands”. He declined, sneering in a German accent, “no, you’re all racists”.  

Rev Simon and his friend had worked security during the European elections for Sargon of Akkad and he told me stories of militant leftists charging them in numbers but stopping, spittle-flecked but impotent, when the two of them (sturdy lads) faced them.

Where I grew up if you start a fight you finish it”, he told me, “but these guys had been lied to. When faced with someone who stood their ground, they had nothing.”  

Revolutionaries with no fight in them are the best kind. I remember foaming Trots at an NUS Conference when I was a student threatening to throw Sir Keith Joseph off a balcony. Sue Slipman, I and others linked arms to protect him but, though they had the numbers to throw us all off, they lacked the testicular fortitude. They were public school poseur revolutionaries to a man — for all their fake Estuary accents — and like Rev Simon’s modern Momentumites, they had nothing. Many modern problems flow from taking such lightweights far too seriously. They are few, loud and ultimately ineffectual. 

The celebrations in Parliament Square were charmingly amateurish. It was the biggest church fête ever. The sound system sucked. The stage was too low and the big screen mostly obscured by flags. We chatted to the people around us and they were lovely. We watched a slideshow about our EU history. We booed every Labour face but Barbara Castle and Tony Benn. We booed every Tory face but Margaret and Boris. We booed every LibDem face without exception. Most of all (and this was interesting) we booed our greatest enemy the BBC. More so even than Guy Verhofstadt (who would like to be our greatest enemy but is too paltry a human to qualify). The BBC has lost the public’s confidence. It’s time it was shut down. A free nation simply does not need a state broadcaster, funded by force. 

Please have look at more pictures of the event (if you are interested) here. My friend and I went back to mine after the magic moment and downed a celebratory bottle of 2007 Nuits-Saint-Georges. He, his good lady and I have spent the weekend at the Barbican’s “Beethoven Weekender” hearing all nine of his symphonies. Typical ignorant, uncultured “Little Englanders” eh? Mrs P the Second will join us for dinner this evening to round off the festivities. 

My personal heartfelt thanks to all who made this victory for democracy possible.  Now for the hard part of Brexit — unity, economic progress and of course eternal vigilance. Good luck to us all!


Brexit Day is here

As we approach midnight CET tonight (11pm in London) this is the song I would be playing in Parliament Square if it were up to me. I shall be there, with an old friend – a former business partner of mine at an international law firm –  drinking in an historical moment.

We Leavers have suffered over three years of abuse. We've been called racists, xenophobes, Little Englanders, uneducated idiots, Northerners (I never minded that one) etc. We've been called everything but a Christian. At times our own tempers have frayed but I think on the whole most of us have conducted ourselves well. As I marched with the Leavers through London last March, we confined ourselves to making "Loser" signs on our forehead at the braying hostiles jeering our progress. At the time I wasn't sure they really were losers. I still feared they might succeed in their frantic, unprincipled attempts to thwart us. Thank God they didn't, as that would have finally shattered our fragile faith in our institutions.

Tonight's celebration is more about still having a functioning democracy, than about Brexit itself.

I have been "unfriended", "blocked" and "unfollowed" by angry Remoaners but have never taken the same approach. I have many friends who voted Remain and respect their opinion. However, for anyone who is (like Adam Boulton on Sky News this morning) still trying to mock and smear us, their hour has come. It's over. They lost. They can own it or fade into irrelevance. From tomorrow I shall unfriend, block and unfollow any who persist in slagging us off. Not because they have a different point of view, but because by persisting now they prove that they are enemies of democracy itself.

My principled Remainer friends would be welcome to stand with me tonight on Parliament Square. I would buy them a drink, console them in their disappointments and reassure them it's all going to be fine. Our differences are many but, in the end, we Brits are one people under the Rule of Law; the people of Coke, Austen and Shakespeare. 

If you're planning to be there, I would love to meet you this evening. I shall be in The Lord Moon of the Mall pub on Whitehall from about 1830 onwards, from where I will adjourn to Parliament Square at 2100. 


Roger Scruton

I am not a Conservative by nature. My first political ideas and memberships were on the Left. I was luckily turned from that quite early by personal experience of leftist violence and intimidation. If you’re an essentially kind-hearted chap, it’s hard to align yourself with a “comrade” who is coming at you with a pick-axe handle to force you to overturn a vote.

My subsequent (and consequent) time in the Conservative Party coincided almost precisely (apart from a brief and depressing recent return over Brexit) with Margaret Thatcher’s leadership. Her assault on the “ratchet effect” in British politics, whereby every leftist innovation became settled policy protected by Conservative administrations, was radical. It stirred enjoyably ferocious opposition from the leftist establishment. It felt to a young, politically-minded chap like me, like a revolutionary cause. Because it was.

My ideological and (to be honest) intellectually-snobbish nature led me to seek academic grounding for my membership of a party supported by my loved, but not nearly trendy enough to be role models to a would-be hip young intellectual, elders. In the course of that earnest reading I found some writing that still informs my thinking (eg Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom”, Karl Popper’s “The Open Society and its Enemies”) but also one book that didn’t resonate, at least consciously, Roger Scruton’s “How to be a Conservative”. 

Dan Hannan’s eulogy to his former tutor in today’s Sunday Telegraph reminds me exactly why Scruton didn’t capture my radical imagination like Thatcher, Hayek and later von Mises did. His answer to young Hannan’s question at their first meeting about the role of a conservative thinker in the modern world was

to reassure the people that their prejudices are true

That would have turned Young Tom off enough to leave the party immediately! I may have been contrarian enough — and have done enough independent reading — to join a party despised and derided by my every academic influence in the then One Party Labour North, but I had learned that in their vocabulary “prejudice” was a bad word. It would be decades before I came to understand that they were deliberately warping language in the way Orwell parodied as “Newspeak” to make it near-impossible to oppose them. What young person wants to be “anti-progressive” for example? How many pause to question whether the policies proposed by “progressives” actually represent progress? (Spoiler alert; they don’t).

So any influence Scruton’s other books had on me was, as Hannan puts it, as one of 

millions of people who haven’t read them and couldn’t name their author [but] will still be unwittingly quoting them at third or fourth hand.

I suspect from the obituaries I have read this week that it’s my loss. Perhaps I should read some more of them. I certainly buy his idea (quoted by Hannan) that;

Conservatism starts from a sentiment that all mature people can readily share: the sentiment that good things are easily destroyed, but not easily created. This is especially true of the good things that come to us as collective assets: peace, freedom, law, civility, public spirit, the security of property and family life, in all of which we depend on the cooperation of others while having no means single-handedly to obtain it. In respect of such things, the work of destruction is quick, easy and exhilarating; the work of creation slow, laborious and dull.”

I fear my psychological problem with Scruton still remains that he was a proponent of Conservatism as a good thing per se when, to me, it’s only as good as the institutions and policies it seeks to conserve. Every successful revolutionary (eg those in France, America and Russia) naturally becomes a conservative once he has the institutions he wants. It would take the revolutionary overthrow (or at least a major purge and serious reforms) of Britain’s ideologically warped institutions to make them things I would fight to conserve.

A society that thinks it’s feminist to rage about rich film stars or TV presenters earning less than male counterparts while deliberately concealing the sexual abuse of young working-class girls in Manchester because racism beats both sexism and class politics in a stupid intersectional game of victimhood Top Trumps is not one whose institutions I have any desire to conserve. The revolutionary overthrow and imprisonment of the leadership of Britain’s police forces and the purging of their indoctrinated officer class is not a conservative objective in Scruton’s terms. Nor is an administrative system where a lying leftist slur on an intellectual Titan like Scruton was enough to get him “cancelled” from a government appointment by an allegedly “Conservative” minister one worth conserving.

I hope Hannan is right that Scruton’s works will be read for centuries. I hope his generation, mine and my children’s will have been radical and revolutionary enough for there to be something in future Britain for his readers to apply his ideas to conserving  

 

 


NATO: what’s the point?

It was formed as a Three Musketeers style mutual defence alliance. An attack on one was to be treated as an attack on all. The anticipated attack was from the Soviet Union. NATO, with its US led military command based in Brussels, was the key international infrastructure on the Western side of the Cold War — mirrored orcishly by the Warsaw Pact. 

The Warsaw Pact is gone. So is the Soviet Union. The Cold War, pace the traitors of our academia — is won. The Berlin Wall fell and the question Sir Keith Joseph asked my student union long ago has been answered;

if the Berlin Wall were to be taken down, which way would the human tide flow?

The world changed — unexpectedly and very much for the better — and my delightful career helping clients to rebuild post-socialist Eastern Europe was made possible. To what would have been the amazement of my young self, most of my friends are citizens of Warsaw Pact countries. 

So why does NATO still exist?

The dismal science teaches us to distinguish between peoples’ stated preferences (often virtue-signalling lies) and their revealed preferences (how they spend their money). All NATO members say they believe in the alliance. Only four — the USA, the UK, Poland and Greece — meet their obligation to contribute more than 2% of their GDP. If you’re wondering, Greece has only accidentally met that target because of the catastrophic fall in its GDP. 

Opinion polls and my own experience of the bitter, sneering anti-Americanism of my otherwise delightful continental chums suggest that as usual the revealed preference is the truth. The Germans and French would not go to war in defence of America or Britain if we were attacked. Britain was attacked, when the Falklands were invaded, and our “allies” and “friends” sold arms to our enemies and gave them all kinds of moral support. Remember the Welsh Guards (my grandfather’s old regiment) massacred by Exocets fired from Mirages? The USA has often gone to war since the alliance was formed and mostly only British warriors fought, died or were injured alongside theirs.

Germany, France and their freeloading friends have quite simply been taking the piss from the outset. They take the Americans (and us Inselaffen and rosbifs) for mugs. They plot to form an EU Army and regret that Brexit means they won’t be able to continue to rely on English-speakers as their cannon-fodder.   

The continued existence of NATO has fuelled the epic paranoia of Russia’s military/intelligence apparatus. Desperate not to be decommissioned the generals and chekists have claimed that “the West” they grew up opposing is intrinsically hostile — rather than, in truth, insultingly indifferent — to Mother Russia. Their only “proof“ of this nonsense was NATO  

During my 7 years living and working in Moscow I heard well-educated, cultured, principled Russians ask again and again what the hell we were up to in keeping it. I answered airily that all bureaucracies were self-serving and that NATO’s staff (like the chekists) naturally preferred repurposing to redundancy. I was probably right but morally not nearly right enough. Our useless political class had a duty to look past such rent-seeking and — for once — to do the right thing.

They are Dr Frankenstein to Putin’s monster.

NATO is yet another of many examples of the truism that, once a bureaucracy acquires a competence, it will never disband. It continues because it can. The political and economic ills that drove the creation of what is now called the EU have long since faded into history. But the plump parasites of its apparatus have repeatedly repurposed it. Britain is a paradise of social, ethnic and sexual equality compared to the days when the precursors of the Equalities Commission were formed but its staff will find imaginary evils by the thousand before they’ll return to productive labour. Marx would gasp at the generosity of Britain’s welfare state and marvel at the lifestyle of even the poorest Brit and yet trivial micro aggressions are enough to sustain the revolutionary fervour of Marxist academics desperate to live as idly and unproductively as the man himself. 

NATO and these other examples remind me of the pre-reformation medieval church. Their stated objectives sound Godly and noble but their true purpose is to keep a bloated priesthood in luxury. Am I wrong? As always, please put me right, gentles all. 


A Socialist Britain: what are we in for?

I spent today at this seminar co-hosted by the Ayn Rand Institute and the Ayn Rand Centre UK. I am not myself an objectivist but the speakers and the subjects were appealing. It was an interesting afternoon beginning with Yaron Brook’s presentation on the long-standing historic links between anti-capitalism and anti-semitism, going all the way back to Marx himself

There followed a panel session on The Nanny State: Could Labour Outdo the Tories? featuring Douglas Carswell, Chris Snowdon, Lucy Harris and the indefatigable Dr Brook (who contributed at length to every session except the last).

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Chris Snowden said he wished, as someone who opposed both Socialism and the Nanny State, that he could simply link the two. He then presented a sadly convincing case that, whatever other damage a Labour government might do, it was unlikely to be worse than the “Conservatives” in terms of interfering in our personal lifestyle and health choices. There is even a chance that it may be genuinely more liberal on the issue of soft drugs.

Lucy Harris, MEP for The Brexit Party and founder of Leavers of Britain said that to call the phenomenon "Nanny" statism is too kind. It’s not a nanny it’s a boss. Dr Brook said that the world needed bosses and that such people are actually tyrants. Lucy thought that the real problem in both the EU and the UK in this respect is Quangoism. I think she's right. Far too many nanny staters are not driven by genuine concern for our welfare. They are rent-seekers making a good living from creating jobs for themselves telling us all how to live. Lucy said she regularly re-reads Orwell’s Road to Wigan Pier, which perfectly sums up the attitude – veering between "sniggering superiority" and contempt – of middle class socialists for the working people they profess to serve. I confess I haven't read that since my schooldays. I must do so again!

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Douglas Carswell was the most optimistic member of the panel. He believes that Brexit has been a game changer in that voters will never take our incompetent rulers seriously again. He thinks social media has also made it permanently impossible for them to set the national agenda and steer debate as they always have. I think he underestimates the kind of sociopath attracted to the political life, but I hope I am wrong. 

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The next panel was called Can We Disagree? Cultural and Legal attacks on Diversity of Speech and the speakers were Toby Young, Yaron Brook, young Twitter sensation,  Soutiam Goodarzi — @Soutiam21 — and Dr Brook again. 

Toby Young spoke of a friend's experience in appearing on the BBC's "Question Time" show in Birmingham at the time Muslim parents were protesting outside a school about the "sex education" programme which contradicted their conservative beliefs. An audience member had asked the panelists simply to state whether they sided with the parents or the school authorities. All but his friend said emphatically they sided with the school. At dinner afterwards, all admitted to his friend that they did sympathise with the parents but had been afraid to say so for fear of being "monstered" by the "woke" lobby. He also spoke about the dishonest way in which the "no platform" types allege the risk of physical harm (e.g. "hate crimes") and psychological harm from mere speech. He pointed out that the much-bruited claims of a rise in hate crimes after the Brexit Referendum didn't show up in the statistics and that there was simply no evidence of psychological harm from speech.

He is planning to launch a Free Speech Union to support students, academics and others facing sanctions for speech and invited anyone interested in helping out in its formation to email him at jsmillsociety@gmail.com. 

Dr Brook said that successive governments have failed in their key duty to protect free speech against violence. The problem began with Salman Rushdie's book The Satanic Verses. Governments did nothing to defend him. Then no newspaper in the US was prepared to publish the Mohammed cartoons from a Danish newspaper that triggered Islamist violence. He didn't blame the press because it was very clear the US Government wouldn’t defend them against the violent reactions they very reasonably feared. The current US Government, for all its bluster, won’t defend people against antifa violence either. He described the "woke" extremists against free speech as having a "Pre-enlightenment attitude". In those days the medieval church defined the range of acceptable truths that could be discussed. Now it is leftist academics who define it, but the outcome is the same. 

All panelists agreed that it was necessary to fight back if freedom of speech is not to be lost. Soutiam’s youthful confidence was remarkable. She says the behaviour of Britain's university authorities in relation to suppression of free speech is more dangerous that that of government but she’s prepared to take them on. I am not sure if she's fearless or naive and I hope her prospects are not damaged by her courage. I weighed in during Q&A with a couple of examples from my own experience of just how lost Britain's universities are to liberty.

The final session was on People and Profits: Who Would Benefit From the End of the City? The speakers were George Grigoropoulos and Andrew Boff. George pointed out that Conservatives have, since Thatcher (whose tenure he described as “a blip in the history of regulation”) been responsible for a massive increase in financial sector regulation. Labour is not blameless but has not been historically any worse.

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He said the only real difference has been in “the intensity of application of the same principles and assumptions” —namely,  that risk can be regulated away (it can’t) and that regulators are inherently wise (they're not). He pointed out that it takes 200 full time employees per bank to comply just with the Basel III regime. For the whole EU that’s over 75,000 expensive staff taken out of production to collect and submit data to regulators he doubts are even capable of analysing it. He highlighted the moral jeopardy inherent in such detailed risk management regimes. Instead of actually assessing risk, banks are “ticking regulatory boxes”. When (inevitably) some unforeseen risk causes a crisis, they will line up to be bailed out, saying “we did what you said this isn’t our fault”.

Andrew’s presentation was more party political. He accepted that his party’s Theresa May had been the worst PM in living memory but said Corbyn and McDonnell were “lost to reason” and would make her seem good by comparison.

It’s always good to be reminded that the routine idiocies of our political class are neither unnoticed nor unopposed. The rest of the audience members were mostly very young reminding me that, despite what one hears, not all our young people are submissive to the busybody state.


Is Boris playing 4D chess?

LEAVE WINS: Boris Has Played 4D Chess And You Haven’t Realised It | Kipper Central.

I was directed to the article linked above by Tcheuchter, a welcome regular visitor here at The Last Ditch, in a comment on my previous post. It's an interesting read from a source I don't follow. It certainly made me think but – as it requires me to trust the Conservative Party (or at least its current leader) – I am not really sure it helps me decide how (or indeed if) to vote on December 12th.
 
I reminded myself, in my excitement at reading it, of a young Paul Simon's wise words in the lyrics to The Boxer – "A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest." I have often remembered them ruefully after haring foolishly down a path based on what I wanted to believe.
 
I would love to believe that Boris Johnson is cunning enough to plot the course outlined by the article's author. I actually DO believe that Dominic Cummings is. What I don't believe is that any such plan could be kept quiet in Westminster. Someone would have revealed what they are up to because everyone around them is of the narcissistic variety of human attracted to politics. One, more or all of them, in hot pursuit of the fame their imagined "specialness" deserves would have been on the phone to their favoured MSM'ers to crow about it, claim credit for it or denounce it.
 
The cleverest thing the Remain Ultra anti-democrats have done is convince a decisive minority of the electorate that a "No Deal Brexit" would inevitably be "disorderly", a "crash out" – a Thelma & Louise suicidal drive off the edge. The people advancing this view did so dishonestly. Their intent was clearly to sabotage negotiations so as to create confusion and delay in the hope that public opinion would change and the UK remain a member of the EU.
 
How can I be sure that they lied? No-one, and certainly not the likes of Hammond, May or even Soubry, is stupid enough to believe you can productively go into a negotiation of any kind having announced "No Deal" is off the table. You would be asking to be screwed.
 
The pessimists who have been fooled by these cynical, manipulative liars into believing that the impact of a "disorderly Brexit" would be catastrophic are looking at economic life from the wrong end of the telescope. Their mental image of the market is a parade ground of people, goods and services marching back and forth to orders barked by politicians.
 
In truth, there would not be "no deal" but "many deals" because everyone engaged in the markets (i.e. everyone, whether they know or like it or not) would make millions of adjustments in instant (and often imperfect, but then they'd learn from that and adjust further) reactions to the issues thrown up. Most of the businesses involved have already plotted those reactions on a "what if" basis. Only people in government, whom no-one in the real world would miss if they didn't show up at work for a month, can possibly not think about the future. People with businesses to run think about it constantly or die.
 
For example, I have a friend in France who makes his living supplied processed potato snacks to corner shops in England. If you've bought a no brand/obscure brand bag of crisps from a Pakistani shopowner in Bradford, you've probably eaten his stuff. His most interesting business stories used to be about such problems as illegal immigrants invading the trucks carrying his goods from Calais to Dover but of late they have been about Brexit.

Before you ask, I don't actually know his view about the politics of Brexit because we are practical men of the world, not politicians. We have spent our time discussing his preparations for the various possible outcomes.

Is he planning to shut up shop? No. He's had discussions with his haulage contractors who have sought (of course) to use Brexit to justify an increase in their rates. He's negotiating with them, while calculating if his business will still work, given his profit margins. Is he considering other markets? Yes, but mainly to assist him in negotiating with his trucking companies. They are exaggerating the possible impact in order to justify the highest rates. He's pointing out that if they over-charge, it's their business they'll harm not his. Whatever happens, and whenever it happens, they now both already know what the rates will be. My friend's customers in England also know what effect the various outcomes might have on the prices they will pay. Of course they've also evaluated alternative suppliers and pushed back against him. It's all precisely priced and everyone is going to carry on doing business under every possible scenario.

That's just a story from one little business, but such interactions are happening by the million every day while politicians make their endless, pointless noise. Goods and services find their way to market through the actions and choices of millions of strangers guided only by the magic of the price mechanism and driven only by their own need to live or make a living. They are not directed by those fools who go into politics because they have nothing valuable to offer the market.

So I hope the author of the post Tcheuchter has drawn our attention to is right. I suspect he isn't. Brexit, as a political matter, will drag on for a depressingly long time because it's existentially important to all the parasites living on the EU institutions or in receipt of its CAP largesse. My best hope is that, once we are perceived to have left, the healthy functioning of markets will reassure voters that there is nothing to fear from pressing on from Boris's BRINO to actual independence.