Leaderless Britain Stumbles Towards Brexit

Although it’s 36 years since I last lived in England, I retain a deep affection for the country where I grew up, as well as my English accent (so say my American friends, anyway). I’m often asked my opinion of Brexit – I have British friends on both sides of the Leave/Remain divide. While I would have voted to stay in the EU, I can understand the opposite view, even while Leavers willfully ignore the strong economic arguments against their position.

Few Americans would accept the loss of sovereignty required by EU membership. Freedom of movement means in theory all 440 million EU citizens not living in the UK could move there without the government being empowered to stop them. It’s not the only issue, but the biggest. Regulations imposed by Eurocrats in Brussels cover mind-numbingly trivial standards for goods and services, all in the interests of creating a seamless market. Many of them are easily criticized and sometimes stupid. Nonetheless, the EU remains in Britain’s interest, in spite of these substantial drawbacks.

A thoughtful essay in the Wall Street Journal (The Great Brexit Breakdown) insightfully noted that “You can have national sovereignty—and that’s fine. Or you can have economic integration—and that’s fine. But you can’t have both.” America has always been the EU’s vision. Its enormous domestic market and free movement of people are fully integrated, which partly explain faster productivity growth. Texans have no sovereignty (though some in the Lone Star state will disagree). But Europe is older and far more tribal. Texans share more values with New Yorkers than the English do with neighboring France. For an island nation, centuries of repelling European invaders isn’t easily replaced with passive acceptance of rule from “the Continent” (how the British refer to the rest of Europe).

Since Britain voted by 52%-48% to leave the EU in the ill-considered June 2016 referendum, negotiations have plodded forward in a predictable, crisis-free fashion. The UK is not alone of course in drifting towards regional political affiliations. As with the U.S., voting patterns were strongly linked to demographics, income and education. London and other major cities voted overwhelmingly to Remain, embracing Europe because of their ethnic diversity. Rural, older voters wanted to Leave. The more white your neighborhood, the less you liked Romanians arriving in your country, even if you rarely encountered them. It was also Old versus Young; those with less life ahead of them imposed their desire for yesterday’s Britain on others with decades still ahead.

Brexit has already been a most awful own goal. Conservative PM David Cameron called the referendum expecting to win handily, thereby ending a corrosive debate within his own party. His subsequent resignation ushered in Theresa May, who had campaigned for Remain like most MPs. Echoing her predecessor’s poor judgment, she gambled on an early election to increase her parliamentary majority, and lost it completely. Her government is propped up by the votes of a small Northern Irish party whose allegiance was bought with higher government spending in their region.

Theresa May has conceded on the major points, as was inevitable to anyone who considered the two sides’ relative negotiating strengths. The result was that the Brexit deal she negotiated with Brussels united both camps in opposition. Facing overwhelming parliamentary defeat, she cancelled a vote she would have lost heavily. Britain has almost no high cards to play, while the EU can’t tolerate a departing member skipping happily into the sunset. Although it’s hard to imagine how anyone could have made a success of negotiating Brexit, she has failed to reach even low expectations.

If Brexit happens (still not certain), it will be on EU terms. The EU rarely makes crucial decisions without the clock ticking down to midnight. Politically, the March 29th deadline (when Brexit is scheduled to happen) remains a long way off. A wide range of outcomes is still possible, including an early election, a second referendum, reopening negotiations with the EU and even no Brexit.

Few in Britain will care to consider how a Trumpian PM would have handled the issues, but they would not be facing today’s unattractive options. PM Trump would have responded to domestic concern over free movement of people attracting too many east Europeans by imposing a unilateral halt. Disliked EU court rulings would have been ignored. It would have caused a different type of crisis than the current one, but the British would have known someone was in their corner, fighting for them. Instead, Leavers promised what was undeliverable. Theresa May has clung to power at the expense of her principles, while passively negotiating Britain onto a path of permanently weaker growth. The country of my youth has been poorly led. It’s a terrible shame.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Important Disclosures

The information provided is for informational purposes only and investors should determine for themselves whether a particular service, security or product is suitable for their investment needs. The information contained herein is not complete, may not be current, is subject to change, and is subject to, and qualified in its entirety by, the more complete disclosures, risk factors and other terms that are contained in the disclosure, prospectus, and offering. Certain information herein has been obtained from third party sources and, although believed to be reliable, has not been independently verified and its accuracy or completeness cannot be guaranteed. No representation is made with respect to the accuracy,  completeness or timeliness of this information. Nothing provided on this site constitutes tax advice. Individuals should seek the advice of their own tax advisor for specific information regarding tax consequences of investments.  Investments in securities entail risk and are not suitable for all investors. This site is not a recommendation nor an offer to sell (or solicitation of an offer to buy) securities in the United States or in any other jurisdiction.

References to indexes and benchmarks are hypothetical illustrations of aggregate returns and do not reflect the performance of any actual investment. Investors cannot invest in an index and do not reflect the deduction of the advisor’s fees or other trading expenses. There can be no assurance that current investments will be profitable. Actual realized returns will depend on, among other factors, the value of assets and market conditions at the time of disposition, any related transaction costs, and the timing of the purchase. Indexes and benchmarks may not directly correlate or only partially relate to portfolios managed by SL Advisors as they have different underlying investments and may use different strategies or have different objectives than portfolios managed by SL Advisors (e.g. The Alerian index is a group MLP securities in the oil and gas industries. Portfolios may not include the same investments that are included in the Alerian Index. The S & P Index does not directly relate to investment strategies managed by SL Advisers.)

This site may contain forward-looking statements relating to the objectives, opportunities, and the future performance of the U.S. market generally. Forward-looking statements may be identified by the use of such words as; “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “should,” “planned,” “estimated,” “potential” and other similar terms. Examples of forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, estimates with respect to financial condition, results of operations, and success or lack of success of any particular investment strategy. All are subject to various factors, including, but not limited to general and local economic conditions, changing levels of competition within certain industries and markets, changes in interest rates, changes in legislation or regulation, and other economic, competitive, governmental, regulatory and technological factors affecting a portfolio’s operations that could cause actual results to differ materially from projected results. Such statements are forward-looking in nature and involves a number of known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, and accordingly, actual results may differ materially from those reflected or contemplated in such forward-looking statements. Prospective investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements or examples. None of SL Advisors LLC or any of its affiliates or principals nor any other individual or entity assumes any obligation to update any forward-looking statements as a result of new information, subsequent events or any other circumstances. All statements made herein speak only as of the date that they were made. r

Certain hyperlinks or referenced websites on the Site, if any, are for your convenience and forward you to third parties’ websites, which generally are recognized by their top level domain name. Any descriptions of, references to, or links to other products, publications or services does not constitute an endorsement, authorization, sponsorship by or affiliation with SL Advisors LLC with respect to any linked site or its sponsor, unless expressly stated by SL Advisors LLC. Any such information, products or sites have not necessarily been reviewed by SL Advisors LLC and are provided or maintained by third parties over whom SL Advisors LLC exercise no control. SL Advisors LLC expressly disclaim any responsibility for the content, the accuracy of the information, and/or quality of products or services provided by or advertised on these third-party sites.

All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that any specific investment will be suitable or profitable for a client’s investment portfolio.

Past performance of the American Energy Independence Index is not indicative of future returns.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
4 replies
  1. Peter Everson
    Peter Everson says:

    As a Briton living in Bermuda for more than 30 years I am very familiar with the debate around Independence; Bermuda is a Dependent Territory of the UK (aka a “colony”). The UN Committee on Decolonization (yes there is one!) has a template for the decision to move to independence. It must be the clearly expressed will of the people. In 2016 17.4 million voted to leave which was 33.9% of the voting age population or 37.4% of the registered voters. This was hardly an overwhelming endorsement for the leave campaign. Whatever deal is negotiated with the EU it should be put back to the people as a binary option: leave on these terms or stay.

  2. Ray Wood
    Ray Wood says:

    Looking at the decline of civility, morality, and patriotism in America, I feel the same way. The generational theft of the last 30 years will cripple future generations. So sad

  3. Darren McCammon
    Darren McCammon says:

    This is a well written and thoughtful article; however, it has little connection to investing much less midstream investing. I encourage you to not bring politics into the discussion except when absolutely necessary and directly related to the investing environment. Doing so welcomes unproductive and unwanted digression.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.