Ms. Lothian-McLean is a British journalist who has reported widely on politics, policing and civil rights.
“LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, bruised by scandal and faced with an alarming rise in coronavirus cases, is refusing to change course. “We have a chance,” he bullishly proclaimed on Jan. 4, “to ride out this Omicron wave without shutting down our country once again.”
Public health experts may disagree. Yet Mr. Johnson is at least being consistent — not only with his conduct throughout the pandemic, where lockdowns were a last resort and restrictions were to be shelved as soon as possible, but also with the political platform that elevated him to the highest office. After all, this is the man who rose to power — bringing about Brexit in the process — on the promise to restore “freedom” and “take back control.”
Undeterred by the pandemic, Mr. Johnson has been quietly pursuing that agenda. But instead of reforming the country’s creaking democracy and shoring up Britons’ rights, he and his lieutenants are doing the opposite: seizing control for themselves and stripping away the freedoms of others. A raft of bills likely to pass this year will set Britain, self-professed beacon of democracy, on the road to autocracy. Once in place, the legislation will be very hard to shift. For Mr. Johnson, it amounts to a concerted power grab.”
“On campuses 10 percent of students are able to intimidate the other 90 percent, who don’t want to say the wrong thing and get canceled. In Congress, the Trumpians are able to intimidate the members who realize what a problem he is. The people in the two big power blocs are not good at winning the war against each other, but they are really good at intimidating the moderates on their own side.
In this way, those in the exhausted camp perpetuate their own misery. They complain about the terrible choices each election cycle, but never organize enough or become imaginative enough to offer something they themselves might want.
In Britain they’ve mostly taken money out of politics, but they still had an election even worse and more polarized than our own. In the end, if Johnson, as expected, wins easily, it will be in part because exhausted voters will have swung to Trump/Johnson nationalist demagogy since the only alternative is a Corbyn/Sanders class war.
In the States, voters still have a chance to turn the emotional page, to elect a person who displays that you can be a progressive or you can be a conservative without turning politics into perpetual war. Pete Buttigieg is rising and Joe Biden’s support is resilient precisely because they are not exhausting.
The interesting question is whether, in the heat of battle, the exhausted voters can get over their fatigue, cynicism and timidity and take their own side in a fight.”
“LONDON — Boris Johnson, to whom lying comes as easily as breathing, is on the verge of becoming prime minister. He faces the most complex and intractable political crisis to affect Britain since 1945.
That should be concerning enough. But given Britain’s political system — which relies for its maintenance on the character and disposition of the prime minister — it carries even graver import. Mr. Johnson, whose laziness is proverbial and opportunism legendary, is a man well-practiced in deceit, a pander willing to tickle the prejudices of his audience for easy gain. His personal life is incontinent, his public record inconsequential.
And his premiership could bring about the end of Britain itself.
The state of the United Kingdom, a constitutional compact founded in 1922 and stretching back, in one form or another, for centuries, is severely strained. Though Brexit is primarily driven by English passions, two of the four territories in the Union — Northern Ireland and Scotland — voted to remain. Both present immediate problems for Mr. Johnson — and for the future of Britain.
In Scotland, rancor at the sense that the country’s vote counted for little and subsequent repeated bouts of parliamentary chaos have led to renewed calls for a second independence ballot. Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister, insists Scotland will hold one if Brexit takes place. One of the most adroit politicians in Britain, Ms. Sturgeon knows that despite widespread misgivings about Brexit, the majority needed for independence does not currently exist. But recent polling suggests a Johnson government might tilt the scales in her favor. An independent Scotland may be conjured out of the chicanery of Mr. Johnson’s rule.”
A new movement is demanding solutions. They may just be in time to save the planet.
By David Graeber
Mr. Graeber is an anthropologist and activist.
Extinction Rebellion members during climate protests in London last week.CreditFrank Augstein/Associated Press
“On April 15, thousands of activists from a movement called Extinction Rebellion started occupying several sites in central London, shutting down major roads and demanding the country’s politicians take immediate, drastic action in the face of climate change.
For more than a week, the streets were awash with an infectious sort of hope. Beyond the potent symbol of popular power represented by their presence in the heart of the city, activists and passers-by had the chance to experiment with collective politics. Yes, there were camera-worthy stunts and impossible-to-ignore disruptions of business as usual. But people also assembled, broke into discussion groups and returned with proposals. If the government wasn’t talking about the climate, Extinction Rebellion would lead by example.
The action was the crest of a wave that arguably began with the high school walkouts over the climate that had been sweeping Europe since late last year, and it was remarkable for including thousands of citizens — many from small towns with no experience of radical politics— who were willing, sometimes even eager, to risk arrest.
Their demands were, and are, simple. First, that the government declare a state of emergency and “tell the truth” about the global situation — that thousands of species are in danger of extinction, that there is a very real possibility that human life itself may eventually follow. Second, that Britain set a goal to eliminate all carbon emissions by 2025, and third, that the specifics of this emergency program be worked out not from above, but through the creation of citizens’ assemblies.”
A protester shouting from a lamppost on Friday outside the Houses of Parliament in London.CreditCreditHannah Mckay/Reuters
LONDON — Politico reported the other day that the French European affairs minister, Nathalie Loiseau, had named her cat “Brexit.” Loiseau told the Journal du Dimanche that she chose the name because “he wakes me up every morning meowing to death because he wants to go out, and then when I open the door he stays in the middle, undecided, and then gives me evil looks when I put him out.”
If you can’t take a joke you shouldn’t have come to London right now, because there is political farce everywhere. In truth, though, it’s not very funny. It’s actually tragic. What we’re seeing is a country that’s determined to commit economic suicide but can’t even agree on how to kill itself. It is an epic failure of political leadership.
I say bring back the monarchy. Where have you gone, Queen Elizabeth II, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
Seriously, the United Kingdom, the world’s fifth-largest economy — a country whose elites created modern parliamentary democracy, modern banking and finance, the Industrial Revolution and the whole concept of globalization — seems dead-set on quitting the European Union, the world’s largest market for the free movement of goods, capital, services and labor, without a well-conceived plan, or maybe without any plan at all.
Thank you Tom Friedman for a great essay. I like many of the popular comments, but have something to add. Angela Merkel let some 1.5 million mostly Syrian refugees into Germany in one year, and caused a backlash protest against too many foreigners too quickly. Refugees from climate change and civil war are increasing dramatically, as populations around the world have exploded. We were 2 billion people around 1930, and we have grown to 7.6 billion in just 89 years. It is probably not going to work, to just let a billion or two billion refugees into the healthier more stable parts of the planet. The EU could help diffuse the brexit movement, with some reforms to limit immigration. The world powers need to help the poorer countries with a host of services, including family planning.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth Century Vietnam” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com. He performs folk music and stories about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction.
LONDON — In the political realm, no one knows how Brexit’s long-running theater of the absurd will end. But for much of the business world, Britain’s departure from the European Union has effectively happened.
Nearly three years of uncertainty since the June 2016 referendum has forced companies to plan for the worst — the prospect that Britain could crash out of the bloc without a deal governing future relations. The twisting road to Brexit has already slowed economic growth, discouraged investment and damaged the reputation of the nation as a haven for commerce.
Global banks and other financial services companies are steadily shifting thousands of jobs and more than $1 trillion in assets to European cities to ensure that they are able to serve customers across the English Channel regardless of the rules that national regulators impose after Brexit.
Japanese automakers have scrapped plans to expand in Britain, in part because Brexit undermines the country’s virtues as a hub for European trade.
Jan. 15, 2019, 651
Protesters outside the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday.
Neil Hall/EPA, via Shutterstock
“A democracy that cannot change its mind is not a democracy. The people may do that when presented with the whole picture after seeing only a partial or distorted one.
It has taken more than 30 months to shift from “Fantasy Brexit” to “Reality Brexit.” The difference, after vitriolic debate that has consumed British politics virtually to the exclusion of all else, is stark.
The first was Britain’s 2016 vote, fueled by lies, to leave the European Union, trumpets blaring. The second, after a crash course in the facts of what membership brings for Britain, came Tuesday in the form of the crushing defeat by a 432-to-202 parliamentary vote of Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan for British withdrawal on March 29.
This, of course, was not a vote to remain in the European Union after all. It reflected anger across ideological lines that united Conservative lawmakers who want a complete British break from Europe and representatives of other parties who want to remain in the 28-nation union. Above all, it reflected complete disarray, the incapacity of May or anyone to come up with an acceptable compromise deal to accomplish something so inherently undesirable as to defy prettification.”
I want to remind folks, that investigators have reported that Russian trolls and bots and Cambridge Analytica, owned by the right wing billionaire Robert Mercer, were both part of the campaign to destablize Britain with Brexit. It has worked brilliantly. I understand why it was in Putin’s interest. It is not clear to me what Robert Mercer wanted and why.
Why Is a Compromise So Elusive?
The Achilles’ heel of a Brexit deal is the border between Ireland, a member of the European Union, and Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom. For years, this border was militarized because of sectarian violence that left more than 3,500 people dead. But with the 1998 Good Friday peace accord, free trade was allowed.
This was possible because Ireland and the United Kingdom were members of the European Union. But when Britain voted to leave, the Irish border again became an issue. Reintroducing customs controls would pose many problems.
Mrs. May’s draft agreement proposes keeping Northern Ireland, and the rest of the United Kingdom, in a European customs union until a trade plan that does not require checks at Ireland’s border is ready — so perhaps indefinitely. But this means Britain would also still be subject to some of the bloc’s trading rules and regulations.
In short, while paying a $50 billion divorce bill, Britain would remain bound by many European Union rules without any say in the making of them. This infuriates the hard-line Brexit crowd, who say it would leave Britain as a “vassal state.”
David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Didn’t I read in the NYT that the Russians were involved, as were elements of the British Press, in presenting Disinformation and Fake News to the British people, so that they would vote for leaving the EU, which many analyst think will be a disaster for both Britain and the EU, and a tremendous boon to Russia. It appears that Putin is successfully choreographing the breakup of one of his largest adversaries. Which begs the question, why won’t the Brits come to their senses, and put the Brexit back to another referendum.
“WIMBLEDON, England — The No. 2 Court at Wimbledon is a fine little stadium: well proportioned and intimate, with a capacity of 4,000.On Monday, it was also the site of a slight to women’s tennis.
Top-seeded Angelique Kerber, a 2016 Wimbledon finalist, and No. 14 seed Garbiñe Muguruza, a 2015 Wimbledon finalist, shrugged it off, took the court for their fourth-round encounter and played one of the best matches of the tournament.”
It goes on and on. Here is an excellent, top comment I fully support:
I am so tired of this relentless accusation of sexism. The male players are far superior in their abilities. It is good to honor men for their skill. We all honor women for their unique biological abilities. Let us honor and appreciate men as well. This is a professional sport. If the men are more skilled, work longer hours (match-time) and produce more revenue based on demand, which they do, it is a favor, in purely financial terms, that the women are paid equally. It is typical of this type of journalism to take this favor as the rule, and say ‘if there is equal pay, there should be equal scheduling. This is why it is never a good idea to make any accommodation to people who want to force reality to fit their moral stance. By the way, I am a progressive person, which is why this bothers me so much. How can we have a truly strong progressive culture when so many people on the left have abandoned common sense for moral judgement and self-flagellation? This type of article only strengthens reactionary movements on the right. How about some radical common sense?