We are now approaching the final endgame of Brexit. As the transitional dark zone between full EU membership and full Brexit nears its termination, we are yet to see a deal reached. The indications are that some form of compromise will be found (although who knows what will happen given the unpredictability of the man leading the United Kingdom).
Whether Britain gets a deal with the EU or not, the outcome will likely be unsatisfactory for Britain’s Brexiteers. A compromise with the EU will mean that Boris Johnson will have failed to deliver on his ridiculous promises that Britain could break free from the EU whilst continuing to enjoy nearly all of the benefits of membership. But leaving without a deal means that UK faces economic catastrophe that will compound misery upon an economy that has already suffered immensely from the effects of the pandemic.
Given that we are now at the endgame of Britain’s self-inflicted lose-lose predicament, we can once more ask a simple question to which there seems no obvious answer.
Why did the ruling party of the United Kingdom busy itself with such an act of national suicide in the first place?
Is it because they believed so passionately in the greatness of Britain that they were willing to risk economic catastrophe in order to restore full sovereignty? Or are power-hungry men like Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg so ambitious in their personal desire to take control of the country that a lust for power trumps the national interest? Well, yes to all of the above.
For the sheer fun of it (sadly, this is my idea of fun) let’s have a look at some of the other, more conspiratorial, ideas that are out there as to why the insanity of Brexit came to pass. Welcome to Top Five Brexit Conspiracy Theories!
1. Blame the Russians!
Everybody knows that Vladimir Putin is essentially a Bond-villain type of guy. His main hobby, aside from engaging Siberian tigers in bouts of Judo wrestling, is to undermine the West. To this end, he has financially backed the rise of the far-right across Europe, installed his tangerine puppet in the White House, and, most deviously of all, made the leaders of France and Croatia stand in the rain at the World Cup Final. Putin basically loves scheming and very likely owns a sinister looking white cat that he menacingly strokes as he orders the poisonings of defectors and traitors.
But is Putin to blame for Brexit? Detaching Britain from the European Union has long been seen as desirable from the standpoint of the extreme-right in Russia. Most notoriously, the Russian neo-fascist political theorist Aleksandr Dugin, a man once referred to as Putin’s “favorite philosopher”, advocated as far back as 1997 that the UK should be encouraged to separate from the EU. Did Putin order an intervention in the Brexit campaign to fulfill this long-standing strategic goal of weakening his British nemeses? The evidence suggests he may have.
We all know that the referendum that produced Brexit was won partially on the back of lies and fake news. Some of this misinformation appears to have come from Russia. Thousands of Russian linked Twitter accounts, many of them bots, sent out pro-Brexit tweets during the course of the campaign. Furthermore, Russian state-sponsored English language media propagated a one-sided view of Brexit that came down heavily in favor of the Leave campaign.
It looks like it was not just propaganda that the Russians deployed. There are accusations that much of the funding for the Leave side originated in Mother Russia. Most notoriously, Arron Banks, the man who financed Nigel Farage’s Brexit campaign, has been shown to have had multiple meetings with Russian officials in the lead up to the referendum. There are other Russian connections to the Leave campaign. Matthew Elliot, head of the Vote Leave campaign was one of the founders of the group Conservative Friends of Russia and had even been cultivated by a Russian spy. Farage, for his part, has frequently defended Russia and praised Vladimir Putin. Maybe the Russians have some Kompromat on the Brexit Kingpin. Here’s hoping!
2. A Get Rich Quick Scheme
Another interesting conspiracy theory doing the rounds is that, actually, some of the principal actors involved with the Leave campaign were not motivated by the desire to free the British from their European oppressors. Rather, it was a desire to get incredibly rich(er) that prompted the passionate pleas to “take back control”.
Prior to the vote, currency speculators knew that the value of the pound would be impacted. If Britain voted to stay in the EU, economic catastrophe would be decisively averted and the pound would strengthen in value. Conversely, a vote for Brexit would mean that sterling would plummet in value. Guys and girls who trade currencies on financial markets know how to exploit currency fluctuations and serious money can be made (or lost) depending on the bets placed.
When the Brexit vote went through, traders who made big bets on the pound falling reaped in the rewards, with some hedge funds making hundreds of millions of dollars. Fair enough, we live in a world where rich people can make millions by betting on the outcomes of public votes. Them’s the rules, or lack thereof. Where things start looking a little shady though is the actions of a certain Mr Nigel Farage on the night of the Brexit referendum. Shortly after the polls closed, Farage appeared on Sky News and conceded defeat. As the vote looked to have been won by the Remain side, the pound climbed to its highest level in months.
However, it has since emerged that prior to his concession, Farage had seen privately commissioned polling data that indicated Leave would win. Why would Farage concede defeat? Could it be that the former currency speculator had made a couple of Brexit-flutters himself? There is a specific type of bet that currency speculators can make, known as a “knock-in short”, in which big money can be made (and I’m simplifying here) if over a short period of time the price rises above a certain point and then falls rapidly. This is exactly what occurred on the night of the referendum. Anyone who knew that Farage would concede defeat despite having information that victory was likely could make some very successful bets on the value of the pound.
Farage has referred to allegations that he profited in this way as “a crackpot lunatic conspiracy theory”. He seems like a thoroughly decent character who has good ethics so we should probably believe him. All the same, hundreds of millions of dollars were made that night on successful bets on the fluctuating value of the pound. It’s within the limits of possibility that traders who wanted the pound to fall put money into the campaign to facilitate that happening. Maybe some of them are even associates of Nigel.
Whatever deal Johnson will make with the EU will require the backing of the House of Commons and, if it fails here, there will be another decrease in the value of sterling. Hedge funds have reportedly bet billions of dollars (!) on this outcome. So here’s another crackpot conspiracy theory: these hedge funds will extensively lobby MPs from both Labour and the Tory party, to ensure that they vote down any agreement between Britain and the EU. In fact, I’d be willing to wager ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS of hedge fund money that those Tory and Labour MPs with extensive connections to the financial industry have already told their speculating buddies how they intend to vote. You can be sure that well-connected traders will know the outcome before we do and will place their chips accordingly. If anyone has an inside track, please let me know.
3. A Very Dramatic Way To Avoid Paying More Tax
Brexiteers are sometimes accused of wanting to resurrect the British Empire. This is not strictly true. In fact, so the theory goes, they want to preserve the Second British Empire. What’s that, I hear you ask? Well, when the British Empire crumbled and the once mighty Britannia lost her rule of the waves, she managed to retain a handful of idyllic Caribbean islands. These mini-paradises turned out to be idyllic not just for tourists but also for money. Dosh could be kept in the Caribbean, free from the grubby hands of the taxman who wanted to take some of it to spend on schools, the NHS and on warfare. The taxman could have his cut of the wages and profits that were located in the UK but any super-rich individuals with the wherewithal to do so could book their profits and park their assets in the Cayman Islands or in Bermuda, free from taxation. This is the Second British Empire.
Unfortunately, the nasty EU has long wanted to crack down on this sort of thing. In 2015, the Tories, UKIP and the DUP all voted against EU plans to curb tax evasion. The year after, Britain held a referendum on leaving the EU, which has since introduced The Anti Tax Avoidance Directive. Were the UK to remain part of the EU, the lucrative system of tax havens through which the elite protect their cash might come under threat. Could this be a motivation for Brexit seeking politicians who are financially backed by those who avail of the perks of the Second British Empire?
Hmm, it’s not like the Conservative party has a track-record of favouring the interests of moneyed elites over those of ordinary voters. Salt-of-the-earth blokes like Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg would much prefer that wealth be taxed fairly so that the state can provide help to those who need it most.
4. Make Everything Way More Terrible
Most sane people realize that a no-deal Brexit would be a terrible outcome for the people of the United Kingdom. Necessities such as medicine, food, and world class soccer players are dependent on free access to EU markets. Britain exports a lot of stuff to Europe and this provides plenty of jobs and keeps the UK economy ticking over. EU regulations protect workers’ rights, prevent the degradation of the environment and makes sure that the British Sunday Roast does not contain chlorinated chicken. A no-deal Brexit would cause economic chaos; jobs lost, supermarket shelves empty, and shortages of diabetes medication. Life becomes way more terrible for the majority of people. Who in their right mind would want to bring this about?
The extreme psychopathic free-marketers of the Euro-skeptic Tory right, that’s who!
Leaving the EU will allow Britain to embark on rampant deregulation that will further erode consumer and worker protections and remove pesky EU controls against thrashing the environment. The economic crisis that follows will provide the justification for further austerity; benefits will be cut and the population pauperized into accepting lower wages and poorer working conditions.The British economy will become one giant Amazon warehouse in which workers get docked pay for each toilet break and can be poked with cattle prods until they meet ever-expanding production targets. A free-market utopia for investors, but a 1984-style Airstrip One offshoot of the United States for everyone else.
Recent decades have shown that the few can profit handsomely off the misery of the many. The 1980s saw mass unemployment return to the UK for the first time in a generation but also saw record profits for the financial sector. The recession unleashed by the 2008 financial crisis saw horrific cuts in public spending and the impoverishment of millions but also massive state-sponsored welfare for the 1%. Naomi Klein explained in her excellent book, The Shock Doctrine, how disaster capitalists use the instability, fear and confusion of crisis situations to change the rules of the system in favour of the super-wealthy. Sir William Rees-Mogg, father of Jacob, even wrote a book, titled Blood in the Streets, about the best way to make money during economic crises.
You couldn’t make this sh*t up! Is Jacob Rees-Mogg trying to impress daddy by engineering a free-market Dickensian dystopia where Monopoly-Man disaster capitalists can reap in the dough off the the backs of an underpaid and subdued workforce? I wouldn’t put it past him!
5. A Fenian Plot?
I am Irish and sure that’s a good enough a reason as any to include a conspiracy theory that relates to “the Irish Question”. Here goes:
In the darkest fantasies of the staunch unionists of the Democratic Unionist Party, there lurks a plot so devious and sinister that it could only be perpetrated by the Papist Fenian’s of southern Ireland. You see, Brexit is being exploited by notorious hardcore nationalists, such as Leo Varadkar, to separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. As such, the DUP will probably vote against the Brexit deal to ensure that Northern Ireland stays the exact same as the rest of the UK, apart from the things the DUP don’t like about the UK, such as civil rights. What better way to expose the Irish government’s despicable plans than to advocate for Brexit before Paddy even thinks about exploiting it in the first place! To this end, the DUP campaigned for Brexit despite the devastating effects it will have on the Northern Irish economy and on the peace process. They even allowed themselves to be used as an illicit funnel for illegal dark-money to fund the campaign for Brexit. The DUP thus succeeded in exposing the arch-nationalists of Fine Gael in their evil Fenian plot to destroy the Queens sacred Union.
Admittedly, this conspiracy theory has some major logical flaws. But then again, flaws in logic seem to be the DUP’s speciality. What is more likely, however, is that the DUP, horrified by increasing cross-border connections and aghast at demographic trends that mean nationalists will soon be in the majority, supported Brexit as a way of separating Northern Ireland from the rest of Ireland. Is their unionism that hardcore? Yes it is!
Brexit means Brexit. But why have a Brexit in the first place? The obvious answer is that former Prime Minister David Cameron could think of no other way of quieting down the restive anti-EU faction in the Conservative Party. The idea was to win the referendum and thus shut up the Euro-skeptics for a generation. Unfortunately, the United Kingdom has for decades suffered an array of problems — de-industrialization, soaring inequality, devastating austerity — that left much of the population bitter towards the establishment and aching for a chance to defiantly say “enough is enough”. Millions seized the opportunity to stick it to the elite. They voted for radical change without fully understanding the implications of what they were voting for. But this is not the full story. The Brexit tale includes sub-plots of foreign interference, insider trading, tax evasion, free-market fundamentalism and, of course, Arlene Foster-ism.
Wow — a megalomaniac dictator, financial speculators, tax cheats, disaster capitalists, and extreme unionists. Overall, you’d have to conclude that Brexit has been encouraged and facilitated by a diverse yet nefarious collection of absolute clowns!
Anyway, fun time is over.
If you enjoyed this article, you might like my new book, Donald Trump: Deadbeat Tyrant, published 13th January, 2021.
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