The United Kingdom on 11/07/2018
Leigh and I left the United Kingdom about 130 hours ago. Since we left England beat Sweden for a spot in the World Cup semi-finals. (Spend a couple of weeks in football-mad countries and you’ll appreciate the game too. Boring? Uh-no!!! And we revel in the fact that England beat Colombia on July 3, for we did not want to experience a football loss in London.)
Prime Minister Teresa May’s government might fall over Brexit. Brexit Minister David Davis, whose official title is Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, quit. So, too, did Alexander Boris de Pfeffl Johnson, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. (Boris Johnson was, by the way, born on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, to English parents. Anchor Baby!) Apparently, the British government’s Brexit approach was not crazy enough to suit Mssrs. Davis and Johnson. (With his usual brilliance, David Frum weighs in for The Atlantic with The End of the Brexit Illusion. Read it, please!)
I’m no expert on the UK, for sure. (Leigh takes pride in the fact that I returned upright, for we can’t count the times she saved me from sure death by stepping in front of a motorised vehicle. They do drive on the wrong side, don’t you know.*) That said and leaving aside our pleasure about World Cup victories and our relief that we avoided the consequences of a football loss on July 3, I have thoughts about Brexit and the POTUS visit.
Brexit represented for the UK an opportunity to act through its Id, in the same way in which, across the Pond, we elected Donald Trump. Lots of nonsense and blather ruled, with not nearly enough attention to knowledge, much less common sense.
Paul Krugman, with his usual brilliance, too, wrote Brexit Meets Gravity in the New York Times. Read the piece to understand the title (and read his many recent columns about trade), but the big takeaway for me involves the fact that trade involves costs. Reduce costs and business can sell more products for less money. Add costs, and it can’t. Sadly, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Trump don’t get it.
There’s more. Free movement throughout the EU benefits its constituent nations. Yes, Europe has a refugee crisis, but many of its nations also have aging and shrinking populations. Viable economies depend on people and making it difficult for people to enter and exit countries easily depresses economic activity. (By the way, the USA has the same trade and aging issues. At the margins stuff varies. But only at the margins!)
What happens with Brexit? Who knows … but Mr. Johnson, whose words as much as anyone’s—save the Russians—created this fiasco, has walked away.
And on our side? Lord only knows. Mr. Trump seems committed to pissing off every friend we’ve got. And getting a new bestie. And London seems like a likely epicenter for … Lord only knows.
About that third first thing? Football aka soccer? Go England. (The Rubin & Bernstein PLLC crew will be unavailable on Wednesday from mid-morning until one-ish, as we watch England and Croatia play for the opportunity to defeat France in the World Cup final. If you need us leave a message at 520.623.3038, or email me at email@example.com.)
*We had a rental car arranged, to get from Cheltenham to Roman ruins at Chedworth. Arranging for a taxi to take us to Enterprise led us to Clint, who drove us to and from Chedworth. Great stories, he got us there and back, and Leigh did not have to prove up left-side driving on one lane country roads. And he cost less than the rental car … even with my paying his admission to the ruins.