Andy Ross 2016-07-24
More Publications Sitemap Contact
BLOG 2016

"Great Trump speech,
America first! Stop wars!
Defeat the corrupt elites!
Protect our borders! Fair trade!
Couldn't have said it better!"
Former KKK grand wizard
David Duke

Ivanka, Donald

Theresa May meets
Angela Merkel
in Berlin

Photo: Adrian Dennis
Farnborough Airshow:
Eurofighter Typhoon


2016 July 24

Trump A Danger

The Washington Post

Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump is uniquely unqualified to serve as president. A Trump presidency would be dangerous for the nation and the world.

It has been 64 years since a major party nominated anyone for president who did not have electoral experience. The lack of experience might be overcome if Trump saw it as a handicap worth overcoming. But he displays no curiosity, reads no books and appears to believe he needs no advice.

The Republican Party has moved the lunatic fringe onto center stage, with discourse that renders impossible the kind of substantive debate upon which any civil democracy depends. We have criticized the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, but we do not believe that she represents a threat to the Constitution. Trump is a unique and present danger.

A Banana Republic

Fareed Zakaria

The Republican convention has been consumed by a vigilante rage. Donald Trump has repeatedly insisted that Hillary Clinton deserves to be in jail. The picture presented to the world has been of America as a banana republic.

Donald Trump announced that he might not honor the NATO guarantee of security to European allies, practically inviting Vladimir Putin to destabilize Eastern Europe. That is a break not just with seven decades of Republican foreign policy but also with a core US commitment that has kept the peace since 1945. It is the most reckless statement made by a presidential candidate in modern times.

The Republican Party has given itself up to a single family and its business interests. Whatever happens, the Trump brand will come out of this election with even greater global celebrity.

2016 July 23

The Final Frontier


A new NASA Hubble Space Telescope mosaic image gives us our latest, deepest view of the universe. The map shows 1.2 million galaxies as they were were 6 billion years (Gy) ago.

NASA Frontier Fields lead astronomer Anton Koekemoer: "We basically use a cluster of galaxies as a natural gravitational lens, using effectively a natural telescope to amplify these distant galaxies much more than we've ever been able to do before."

Frontier Fields is a joint project combining data from Hubble, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The goal is to learn more about the early universe by studying distant galaxy clusters using gravitational lensing of remote supernovas by the galaxy clusters.

Koekemoer: "Many of the key scientific results to come out of Hubble probably weren't even envisioned when it was being designed. There are always new areas that can be explored."

Researchers have used SDSS and BOSS data to measure galaxies in a spherical volume reaching back 6 Gy. They find the universe expands by 1% in each direction every 145 My. The James Webb Space Telescope, launching in 2018, will observe light redshifted beyond anything Hubble can see, from events soon after the Big Bang 13.8 Gy ago.

Koekemoer: "The Sloan Survey gives us our most detailed picture of what we call the intermediate distance universe, so these galaxies are distant but they aren't nearly as distant or early in the universe as what we see in these deep fields of Hubble ... You're really pushing back further into the early universe. It's very much like a final frontier quest."

2016 July 22

America Is Back

Donald Trump

My message is that things have to change — and they have to change right now. The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end. Beginning on January 20th, 2017, safety will be restored.

Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation. The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life. Any politician who does not grasp this danger is not fit to lead our country.

We are going to build a great border wall to stop illegal immigration, to stop the gangs and the violence, and to stop the drugs from pouring into our communities.

This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction terrorism and weakness, but Hillary Clinton's legacy doesn't have to be America's legacy.

It is time to show the whole world that America Is Back — bigger, and better and stronger than ever before.

My Father

Ivanka Trump

Donald Trump is the person to make America great again. I have seen him fight for his family, for his employees, for his company. And now I am seeing him fight for our country.

My father not only has the strength and ability necessary to be our next president, but also the kindness and compassion that will enable him to be the leader that this country needs. He is color blind and gender neutral. When Donald Trump is in charge, all that counts is ability, effort and excellence.

As president, my father will change the labor laws put in place when women were not a significant portion of the workforce. He will make childcare affordable and accessible to all. He will fight for equal pay for equal work and I will fight for this too, right alongside of him.

When my father says he will make America great again, he will deliver.

2016 July 21

A British Crisis

Zadie Smith

The vote for Brexit has revealed a deep fracture in British society. The gaps between north and south, the social classes, Londoners and everyone else, rich Londoners and poor Londoners, and white and brown and black are real. Extreme inequality fractures communities.

After a while the whole edifice comes tumbling down. Everybody has been losing, but no one more than the white working classes who really have nothing, not even the perceived moral elevation of trauma or victimhood. And so many of them have chosen to be flagrantly, shamelessly wrong.

There has been a money madness in London for some time. The economically and socially disenfranchised of this nation are struggling and deeply unhappy. I believe that most of those who voted Leave did so out of anger and hurt and disappointment.

Britain is now in crisis. Rather than pull another veil over the mess, we might as well start trying to build from where we are. The rights and protections provided for the British people by Europe must not now be replaced by a nonsensical vision of British sovereignty.

2016 July 20

UK v EU: Not Over

Anatole Kaletsky

The dogma that referendums are sacrosanct is a travesty of true democracy. In genuine democracy nothing is ever irreversible, since every decision is always open to debate. This principle of continuous challenge must be restored quickly if Britain is to avoid a catastrophe.

Politicians and others need to begin a serious debate about the right balance between direct and representative democracy. The new government will have to find a way to preserve the main benefits of EU membership and then present the plan to voters. Political leaders from the rest of Europe will then have to show greater flexibility and a stronger instinct for EU preservation.

We need to challenge the assumption that democracy requires unquestioning obedience to a referendum result. The essence of democracy is the right to challenge and reverse majority votes. After every election, the defeated party becomes the official opposition, tasked to change the will of the people before the next election.

A referendum is a message directly from the people. But the UK is a representative democracy. Parliamentary representatives are entrusted with making decisions, because the will of the people is often inconsistent or erroneous or even dangerous.

Margaret Thatcher called referendums a device for dictators and demagogues. Germany excluded referendums from its postwar constitution. Democracy represents the diversity of individuals, each with changing opinions and motivations.

Efforts to keep Britain in the EU after the vote are as democratically legitimate as any other popular political movements. We need a campaign to secure a second referendum or general election to judge any new deal proposed by the government. The claim that referendums are irreversible and permanently binding is a parody of democracy — one man, one vote, one time.

UK v EU: Facing Reality

Vernon Bogdanor

Brexiteers said the EU was aiming for a federal superstate. But the EZ and migration crises have changed things. The EU is economically and politically too diverse to push for ever closer union.

The EU faced reality during the EZ crisis. The crisis was handled largely by the European Council, made up of heads of member state governments, rather than the European Commission, made up of technocrats. The EU must recognise the council as its supreme executive and the commission as its secretariat.

The EU must now face reality on freedom of movement. That principle was first outlined by six member states at a similar stage of economic development. It is unsuitable for 28 member states at different stages of economic development.

The EU needs to prove its value to its citizens. The British contribution was always to subordinate rhetoric to reality. Europeans need to rescue the EU from its elitist and technocratic establishment.

2016 July 19

Quantum Collapse

New Scientist

Quantum theory is our best theory of basic reality. The Schrödinger equation describes a wave function that gives reliable odds on which of many possibilities you will see if you take many measurements of identical objects. The Copenhagen interpretation says the act of observing reality collapses the wave function into a definite object. In 2011, an informal poll of 33 physicists attending a conference on quantum physics and the nature of reality found that over 40% accepted the Copenhagen view. Sean Carroll called it perhaps the most embarrassing poll in physics.

An objective collapse theory can solve the observer problem. A human observer meddling with a quantum system is bound to get entangled with it and collapse any uncollapsed wave function in it. Such a theory was worked out decades ago by Giancarlo Ghirardi and Tulio Weber. They tweaked the Schrödinger equation to make the wave function evolve naturally from a mixed states to a unique state. To do so, they added a nonlinear term to promote one state fast and a stochastic term to make this happen at random.

Daniel Sudarsky and Elias Okon have shown how objective collapse in the early universe would give rise to an uneven distribution of matter to form stars and galaxies. They say the rate of random wave function collapse could explain the information loss rate predicted for black holes. Since spontaneous wave function collapse makes a bit of energy, this process could solve the problem of dark energy. Objective collapse might also explain why the universe started in a state of extremely low entropy. The steady increase of entropy since then appears to us as the arrow of time.

AR I read a technical account of the Ghirardi-Weber theory in 1988 and found it interesting. Although it is rather heuristic in motivation, it shares this feature with much of physics. I am tempted to go for the full Copenhagen, with a new theory of subjectivity to steer clear of anthropology — the result is the psychophysics I aired in my 2009 book Mindworlds.

Schwetzingen Schlossgarten

Schwetzingen Schlossgarten 2016-07-16
AR Ein erfreulicher Urlaub in Deutschland: Hotel direkt neben diesem Garten, schöne Zeiten mit guten alten Freunden
und eine spektakuläre SAP Summer Summit 2016 auf dem SAP-Campus in Walldorf

Statement from Tony Blair
on Chilcot Report

Pound plumbs 31-year low
as Brexit impact bites
— falls under $1.28


Conservative leader and PM
vote among MPs, first round:

Theresa May 165, all the other candidates together 164

Pound hits new low
against dollar: $1.30

UK property funds halt trading
as Brexit contagion spreads

A Letter to Europe



2016 July 9

Reckless Folly

Richard Dawkins

Intricate webs of European cooperation built up over decades by British companies, institutions, universities, research establishments, galleries, employers of British skills and British labour are now wrecked. In many cases the work of patient decades is shattered beyond repair. The economic and human consequences are of incalculable magnitude.

There are stupid, ignorant people in every country. Most of them are not asked to take historically momentous and irrevocable decisions of state. It is unfair to thrust onto unqualified simpletons the responsibility to take historic decisions of great complexity and sophistication.

The prime minister recklessly gambled away the future of Britain and Europe. Lacking the courage to tell the yobs in his own party to take a running jump, he played Russian roulette with the future of Europe and the world. His decision to hold the referendum was a monstrously irresponsible gamble. His place in history is assured, but not pretty.

2016 July 8

America and Europe

Barack Obama

This may be the most important moment for our transatlantic alliance since the end of the cold war. Terrorist attacks, waves of migrants, Russian aggression, and the vote in the UK to leave the EU all raise questions about the future. We can meet these urgent challenges only if we stand united.

I am confident that the UK and the EU will be able to agree on an orderly transition to a new relationship. The special relationship between the US and the UK will endure. I have no doubt that the UK will continue to be a major contributor to European security.

Likewise, the US will continue to have an indispensable partner in the EU. US and EU cooperation will be essential to stimulating global growth and reducing inequality. Europe will remain a cornerstone of American engagement with the world.

While Brexit creates some uncertainty, our shared prosperity will continue to rest on the solid foundation of NATO. In Warsaw, we must reaffirm our treaty obligation to defend every NATO ally. NATO members must continue to invest more in our common defense.

Our nations are more secure when we stand together. We are united by our enduring commitment to shared values and strengthened by our rich diversity of backgrounds and faiths. We will prevail if we stay united, strong and true to our democratic values.

2016 July 7

Jews Reconsider UK After Brexit

The Independent

Brexit has led to a surge in the numbers of Britons seeking to become nationals of other EU states. Descendants of Jewish refugees who fled to the UK to escape from Nazi persecution are seeking German nationality.

German nationality is available to someone who has at least one German parent or who has lived for a certain period in Germany. For Jewish and political refugees from the Third Reich, the Grundgesetz says former German citizens who from 1933 to 1945 were deprived of their citizenship on political, racial, or religious grounds, and their descendants, can have their citizenship restored.

AR I shall seek a German passport.

DARPA Hack Bots


A $55 million hacking contest put on by DARPA called the Cyber Grand Challenge is set for August in a ballroom in Las Vegas. A visualization in arena view will show hack bots inside seven supercomputers, each running AI software that defends one machine and attacks the rest.

The supercomputers will stand on a clear plexiglass stage. The contestants, the seven teams that designed the bots, will watch the bots working inside the machines, analyzing and defending software and looking for security vulnerabilities, scrambling to patch those vulns and keeping their systems running. DARPA referees will watch the show too.

Finding and patching security holes was a human talent, but machines are taking over. Google is building sweeping systems that can identify vulns via fuzz testing, a technique that involves throwing random inputs at a piece of software. The system can simultaneously fuzz dozens of Android phones, and is using deep neural networks to learn what sort of fuzzing is likely to work.

DARPA wants bots that can identify and patch vulns in the moment, without human intervention. The Las Vegas audience will see when a bot finds a hole, when it patches the hole, when a bot breaks the service, and so on. The visualization can drill down and look at the streams of data in a trace view that shows the execution flow of a program on the data, like a debugger.

AR Reminds me of the good old days at SAP.

2016 July 6

Chilcot Inquiry Conclusions

Financial Times

Seven years and 2.6 million words later, the Chilcot report presents the UK role in the Iraq debacle as a set of collective failures. It concludes that Tony Blair's decision to go to war in 2003 was flawed.

Chilcot: "It is now clear that policy on Iraq was made on the basis of flawed intelligence and assessments. They were not challenged and they should have been."

The Joint Intelligence Committee headed by Sir John Scarlett was responsible for collating the intelligence and presenting it to ministers. MI6 had a responsibility to ensure that ministers "were informed in a timely way when doubts arose".

Blair is criticised for failing to tell the Commons the full intelligence assessment on the consequences of military action when he said Saddam Hussein constituted a "real and present" danger to UK and national security.

Chilcot: "The risks of internal strife in Iraq, active Iranian pursuits of its interests, regional instability, and al-Qaeda activity in Iraq were each explicitly identified before the invasion."

Disaster Capitalism

Howard Hotson

The referendum was manifestly won on the basis of misinformation. There are several plausible ways forward, yet all the Conservative leadership candidates are going for Brexit. An explanation can be found by extrapolating from a pattern evident in privatisations going back decades.

When the railways were privatised, the experts objected but the government pressed ahead anyway. When university finance was privatised, experts pointed out the problems but the government pressed ahead. When the government proposed to force all schools in England out of local authority control, its aim was to place the entire school system in private hands. When the near meltdown of the global financial system raised doubts about the entire system of global capitalism, the UK government simply cut back social welfare provision on a grand scale.

Advocates of leaving the European Union claimed that after a brief period of turmoil it would be fine. A vast chorus of experts disagreed, the referendum result delivered a global shock, and now UK affairs are in complete confusion.

Disaster capitalism operates by delivering massive shocks to the system and then using the ensuing period of anarchy, fear, and confusion to reassemble the pieces of what it has broken into a new configuration. UK politicians can now redraw the legal framework that will govern all aspects of our lives. They will find countless pretexts for emergency measures that benefit business and roll back the state during the current parliament.

AR Watching The Riot Club last night, I realised that the Brexit drama could have been scripted by establishment figures duped by disaster capitalists who aim to get rich at EU expense. Seriously, the key to all this is that government is the problem, not the solution. People must sort their own lives, not look to the nanny state to do it for them. Government is hobbled by its commitment to democracy. Big corporations are free to order themselves like totalitarian states, which given clear goals can be much more efficient. A parliamentary democracy should leave as much as possible to corporations and restrict itself to debating a framework of rules and goals for them. In this view, the EU is a dinosaur like the USSR, or rather a cash cow, ripe for a vampire squid.

2016 July 5

Juno Enters Jupiter Orbit

The New York Times

Juno is the second spacecraft to enter orbit around Jupiter. The NASA Galileo spacecraft spent eight years there surveying the planet and its moons.

Jupiter is believed to hold the keys to understanding the origins of our solar system. How much water it contains and the possible presence of a rocky core could reveal where in the solar system Jupiter was created and provide clues to the early days of other planets. Juno will measure the magnetic and gravitational fields of Jupiter and the microwave glow from within. A titanium vault will shield its crucial systems as it passes through the Jovian radiation belt.

Juno traveled within 5 Mm of Jupiter's cloud tops, passing through almost the exact spot that the navigators had aimed for after its 2.7 Tm voyage. After the engine burn, the spacecraft pivoted to turn its solar panels toward the Sun. Sunlight at Jupiter is 4% as bright as at Earth, and Juno's three 10 m long solar panels generate only 500 W to power the craft.

The spacecraft will have to make multiple flybys to start answering questions like whether there is a rocky core at the center of Jupiter. From polar orbit, the Juno cameras are likely to add to the number of known moons of Jupiter, now 67.

The cumulative radiation dose will take its toll on the electronics. As the mission progresses, the orientation of the orbits will pivot, and Juno will pass through more intense radiation.

On orbit 37, slated for 2018-02-20, Juno is to dive into Jupiter, ending the mission.


Theresa May

As UK home secretary, I have been the cabinet minister responsible for counter-terrorism for the past six years. I am a member of the National Security Council. At times of high alert, I am called upon to chair meetings of Cobra.

It is vital for our national interest that we maintain what is the most significant security and military capability in Europe. It is crucial that we maintain our independent nuclear deterrent. We need a full fleet of four submarines.

We should get on with it.


The Times

IMF head Christine Lagarde says the UK could lose up to 4.5% of growth by 2019 if it presses ahead with Brexit — but the EU could make the best of the vote by getting on with decisions unencumbered by British opposition. The prediction assumes Britain reverts to WTO status. If the UK remains part of the single market, the damage would be 1.5%.

Lagarde: "I have heard European commissioners, one after the other, say, this is so complicated, we can't do it because of the British ... I believe Europeans will come out of Brexit on top."

Steps to Brexit

David Allen Green

The political class in the UK has had a fright. They were not expecting to lose the EU referendum. So now there is a crisis — but only for a while.

Already the unwritten constitution may be saving the political class from their own folly and complacency. The referendum was never binding in law and was a glorified consultation exercise. The real decision had to be made afterwards, as a distinct legal act.

The prime minister was expected to make that decision on the day of the result. But he left it to his successor to make. The government may get away with this move because the Leave campaigners had no plan.

Unless a sincere Leaver becomes the next prime minister, the UK government can be expected to take three steps to slow down the Brexit process:

1 Snap the tie between the referendum result and the Article 50 notification.
2 Require some form of parliamentary vote.
3 Propose preconditions before further action.

Brexit becomes less likely as time passes. It may not happen at all.

Non to Frexit

Sylvie Kauffmann

For the French, the most visible consequence of the Brexit referendum is the return of Marine Le Pen. She is back with a vengeance and a huge grin. But France is not ready for Frexit.

France had a crucial role in creating the European Union. Postwar French leaders have constantly pushed to take Europe further as an instrument of power on the world scene. As Europe took shape, at every stage, the Franco-German tandem, the engine of Europe, was humming behind the scenes.

Europe had three pillars: France, Germany, and Britain. For France, Britain was a partner in its strategic vision of the world. With Brexit, one of the three pillars is gone, and France faces an uneasy marriage with a stronger Germany.

For the past 10 years, the European Union has failed its citizens. Over the past few days, European leaders have hastily identified three priorities to save their union: security, migration, and economic growth. Their failure can be overcome if European citizens regain a sense of the political and historical mission of the European idea.

Berlin on Brexit

Peter Altmaier

The result of the referendum was clearly in favor of withdrawal. That disappointed us, but we must respect it. But we can also see that the debate over how to handle the results is only just beginning. Wisdom demands that we wait and see the outcome of this debate.

I have always wanted Britain to be a strong member state in the EU, especially from a German perspective. The Brits must first decide if and when they want to submit a request to withdraw. No one knows what demands the new government will put forward.

British institutions should be allowed to reflect on the consequences of the referendum. The German constitution does not permit such referenda for good reasons. We will continue to be reserved at the federal level about plebiscites, especially if they have direct effects on other countries.

Globally, the EU has enormous allure and enjoys a great degree of respect. But there are different notions about how Europe should continue. Simply calling for more Europe is not enough.


The Atlantic

The Evolved Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (eLISA) is a physics experiment. eLISA relies on a stable configuration of three satellites 1 Gm apart (3 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon) at the vertices of an enormous equilateral triangle drawn by laser beams.

Within each satellite there is a set of tiny gold cubes in zero gravity. These free falling test masses will respond to the smallest disturbance in the fabric of spacetime, looking for gravitational waves.

Gravitational waves were first detected last year by LIGO and promise to open a new type of astronomy. European Space Agency mission eLISA is LIGO in space. It should offer gravitational sensitivities beyond anything possible on Earth.

Kip Thorne: "We are opening up a window on the universe so radically different from all previous windows that we are pretty ignorant about what's going to come through. There are just bound to be big surprises."


Telegraph Video
Memorial service for the
76th anniversary of the
Battle of Britain: Spitfire
and Hurricane fly-past

AR Expect more of such
nationalism after Brexit.

Nigel Farage resigns as UKIP
(but not as MEP):
"I have done my bit."

AR Done too much.

A Wake-Up Call
Francesca Barber

I was born in America,
my parents are English,
I was schooled in Brussels.
The shocking outcome of
the British referendum has
challenged the foundation of
my understanding of who
I am and my place in the world.
It was a rejection of the sense
that our differences are less
important than our shared
experiences, a wake-up
call for British youth.

Jeremy Clarkson

At work recently we had
a vote and decided to invest
a considerable sum of money
in a new venture that within
a week we could see was
not going to work.
We all sat around wailing
and gnashing our teeth
until someone had
a brilliant idea.
"I know," he said.
"Let's have another vote."
So we did, and as a
result financial ruin
was averted.


2016 July 4

"Welcome to Jupiter!"


NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, Pasadena, California, shortly before 9 pm Pacific Daylight Time:
The NASA Juno mission completed its main engine burn and entered orbit around Jupiter.

NASA Science Mission Directorate acting administrator Geoff Yoder: "This is phenomenal."

UK to Slash Corporate Tax Rate

Financial Times

UK chancellor George Osborne plans to slash corporation tax to less than 15% to woo business to invest in Brexit Britain: "We must focus on the horizon and the journey ahead and make the most of the hand we've been dealt."

His move will anger EU finance ministers who fear a race to the bottom. The OECD tax head warned that the fallout from Brexit "may push the UK to be even more aggressive in its tax offer" but that further steps in that direction "would really turn the UK into a tax haven type of economy".

AR Bullingdon boy George gives billionaires a break at the expense of the plebs.

UKIP Plot to Install New PM?

The Times

Theresa May supporters accuse UKIP of trying to steal the Conservative crown for Andrea Leadsom. A big UKIP donor swung behind her leadership campaign after she promised to trigger formal Brexit more quickly than her rivals. This has won her huge support among hardline Brexiteers. Conservative MPs start tomorrow to cut a field of five candidates down to two for a ballot by party members.

German Cheer for Scotland

Hamish Macdonell

German economy minister and vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel says Scotland can join the EU as an independent country. He said the EU would certainly accept Scotland as a member in its own right if the country left the UK and wanted to join the EU.

SNP spokesman: "These comments highlight the goodwill there is towards Scotland in the EU. Our focus is on the negotiations that lie ahead, to protect Scotland's relationship with the EU and our place in the single market."

General Election Before Brexit

Nick Clegg

The Conservative party has caused the greatest constitutional crisis in modern times. The party of business is now the source of reckless economic turmoil. The natural party of government is now presiding over paralysis in Westminster and Whitehall. The party is now letting Britain drift.

The government has no leadership, no plan, no consensus, and no clue about what to do next. All it wants is to leave the EU. Hedge fund owners want to turn the City into a tax haven and Brexiteers witter about staying in the single market but shirking its rules. We need a general election.

Der Spiegel am Montag

René Pfister

Das Votum der Briten ist so etwas wie der inoffizielle Startschuss für den Bundestagswahlkampf. Während Martin Schulz die Kommission in Brüssel zu einer Art europäischen Superregierung ausbauen will, findet Finanzminister Wolfgang Schäuble, dass zur Not die Nationalstaaten die Sache in die Hand nehmen sollten. Und die Kanzlerin hofft darauf, dass die Briten sich besinnen und am Ende doch noch davon absehen, aus der EU auszusteigen.

Die Queen riet ihrem Volk, "ruhig und gefasst" zu bleiben. Es ist ganz und gar unüblich, dass sich die Queen ins politische Tagesgeschäft einmischt. Aber wozu braucht es eigentlich ein Staatsoberhaupt, das selbst dann zum Schweigen verdonnert ist, wenn die Regierung purzelt, die Opposition sich zerlegt und Schottland darüber nachdenkt, eigene Wege zu gehen?

Waiting for Gödel

Siobhan Roberts

In 1975, Kurt Gödel was awarded the National Medal of Science. Nicknamed Mr Why by his parents, Gödel was known to some of his admirers as God. His 1931 masterpiece was his incompleteness theorem: There is more to truth than can be caught by proof. Within any given system, there are claims which are true but which cannot be proven to be true.

This June, a group of Gödelians convened for a crash course in incompleteness in Brooklyn. The students included a computer scientist, a nutritionist, a philosopher, an ad man, and a teacher who had spent a lonely winter reading Douglas Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach.

London professor and Facebook engineer Peter O'Hearn: "Gödel's theorem has a major impact on what all computer scientists do. It puts a fundamental limit on questions we can answer with computers."

AR My second thesis (Oxford 1976) was on the implications of Gödel's theorem for mathematics. I read Hofstadter's book in Japan in 1981.

Dice With 120 Sides

Siobhan Roberts

Earlier this year, at a mathematical conference in Atlanta, two scientists from the Dice Lab débuted a die with a 120 sides. The d120 is 5 cm in diameter and 90 g in weight, and is technically a disdyakis triacontahedron. Its face numbers are distributed so that any two opposing sides sum to 121. Each of its 62 corners boasts equanimity, too. For example, a vertex at which 10 triangles meet sums to 605, which is 10 times the average of all the numbers on the die.

AR My first thesis (London 1974) was on the logic of probability, as applicable to dice throws.


Anil Ananthaswamy

The slogan ER = EPR hints at a connection between two parts of physics first investigated by Albert Einstein. His general theory of relativity says gravity is the warped geometry of spacetime and implies black holes have entropy. Quantum theory he attacked in a paper with Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen, arguing that entanglement was preposterous.

Juan Martín Maldacena conjectured that string theory equations describing gravity in some volume of spacetime are dual to a set of quantum equations describing the surface of that volume. He gave an example based on a paper by Einstein and Rosen showing how two apparently separate black holes might be connected inside. He showed that an Einstein-Rosen bridge or wormhole would only form if the outsides of the black holes were entangled. This links quantum mechanics and spacetime.

Mark Van Raamsdonk explored further. If you slowly reduce the amount of entanglement between two black hole surfaces to zero, the wormhole becomes thinner until it breaks, leaving two unconnected bits of spacetime. He infers that spacetime is a geometrical manifestation of entanglement. It may also be a manifestation of quantum information.

Black holes emit Hawking radiation. If nothing new falls in, a black hole will eventually evaporate. But matter is information, and in quantum theory it can never be destroyed. If information escaped with the radiation, a Hawking particle on its way in would have to entangle with all other Hawking particles that left the black hole at all earlier times as well as its partner outside the horizon. This offends the monogamy of entanglement. But without polygamy a blazing firewall of radiation forms at the event horizon, contradicting general relativity — paradox.

Quantum monogamy says three quantum systems cannot all be entangled at the same time. But if the particles just inside the horizon and the particles far away are connected via a wormhole, one must lie to the future of the others. So they are not all entangled at the same time — paradox gone.

AR I groped at such links between spacetime and entanglement in my 2006 paper About Time (Mindworlds 13). Recently I have neglected these ideas.

2016 July 3

Brexit Aftershocks

Der Spiegel

David Cameron gambled away British EU membership and history has moved on. The vote for Brexit has set the stage for the next big power struggle within the EU: more Europe versus less Europe.

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Parliament President Martin Schulz want more. Schulz: "If we let the British play games with us, the entire EU will fly apart."

Most European heads of state and government, led by Angela Merkel, want less: Treat the British amicably, don't rush them and play for time. And choke off all efforts aimed at more Europe.

Schulz and Juncker have long been working toward limiting the influence of European heads of state and government in the EU. In May, the two pledged to join forces to ensure greater powers for the EU. It was a pact against Merkel.

German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble wants to improve EU-27 cooperation and cohesion. He wants completion of the single market and the free movement of capital, plus agreement on economic growth and external border control.

Sunday — French president François Hollande wants to get rid of the UK as quickly as possible. He says the EU must be clear about what leaving entails. Brexit increases French influence in the EU.

Monday — Merkel and Holland meet in Berlin with Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi. They say proposals for further EU development in the areas of security, employment, youth, and EZ cooperation should be presented by September. Merkel addresses the German parliament: no secret negotiations with the UK before it officially applies for withdrawal and no cherry picking by London. But give them time.

Tuesday — EU leaders meet for the last supper with Cameron.

Wednesday — EU heads of state and government will take the lead in Brexit negotiations. Junker says that is his responsibility, but they say they have been elected and he hasn't. They agree on no changes to European treaties, no convention, no fundamental modifications to the EU, and no deepening of integration.

— Merkel defeats Schulz and Juncker for the idea of Europe as a collection of nation states.

— Polish Law and Justice party head Jaroslaw Kaczynski wants more Europe in foreign and security policy. He wants a European army and a strong European president. Many governments in eastern and central Europe agree with him.

— Governments in southern Europe want to see greater public investment, such as an EZ budget under European Parliament control.

— Countries like Sweden and Germany want a joint asylum system, with a fair distribution of refugees throughout the EU. This too would lead to more Europe.

AR The UK is fundamentally out of step with all this. Long live the EU.

How to Revive European Union

The New York Times

One critique of the EU is that it is not democratic. European Council decisions are subject to political compromise and rarely reflect national preferences directly. The European Commission negotiates trade agreements, enforces antitrust rules and proposes legislation, but its president is selected by the European Parliament, which is weak. Reforms could include making the parliament more central in decision making and letting Europeans directly elect the president of the commission.

Nationalists will rail against greater European unity, but addressing the refugee crisis will require it. EU leaders made the crisis worse by leaving Italy and Greece to handle it on their own with little assistance. A long overdue European border and coast guard operation will help manage migration and security. Officials need to centralize the registration and screening of refugees.

Another big challenge is the weakened EU economy. Some countries, like Greece and Spain, have suffered such a steep decline in living standards that a full recovery could take decades. Even in countries like France and Italy, unemployment rates are still way too high. In Britain, median wages surpassed their pre-crisis level only last year. The EU could strengthen its economy by restructuring the debt of weaker countries and increasing public spending.

AR If Europe had still been a collection of separate nation states, mass immigration would have led to armed conflict by now. The national economies would be crippled by red tape at borders and citizens would suffer permanent austerity inside their police states. They would dream of European integration as paradise.

A Dutch View

Geert Wilders

European political leaders are allowing asylum seekers and migrants to come to us. They're spending billions of euros on them. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states should take care of these people.

I want to close the Dutch borders. I don't have a problem with people from Slovakia and Lithuania. But I do have a problem with immigration from Islamic countries.

We will decide who we allow into our country and who we will outlaw. Immigration from non-Western immigrants costs our state €7.2 billion annually, much more than closing the borders and visa limitations would.

We have a million Muslims in the Netherlands. As long as they obey the law and respect the constitution, nobody has anything to fear. But when somebody has dual citizenship and commits a crime, his Dutch passport should be revoked and he should be deported.

Islam is an imperialist ideology like communism or fascism. Islam wants to destroy us and I want to prevent it. I will not stop fighting against Islam until I have achieved freedom for our country.

AR Fight imperialist Islam at the European level. Close ranks and fight together.

Brexit Will Still Hurt

Niall Ferguson

Brexit probably won't happen for years yet. There is no evidence to dismiss predictions that the UK would suffer a recession if it left the EU. The vote alone has triggered an instant 10% drop in the exchange rate.

The vote was no revolt against the elites. The Tory leadership contest is like Oxford student politics. Oxford graduates David Cameron and George Osborne were defeated, then one former president of the Oxford Union debating society (Gove) knifed another (Boris Johnson), while a former Oxford Union treasurer (Nicky Morgan) decided to back Gove against a former Oxford Union returning officer (Theresa May), who is married to a former Oxford Union president. The shocking truth about British politics is this: heads, Oxford wins; tails, all other universities lose.

The big division exposed by the referendum was between the generations. Not only were the elderly much more likely than the young to back Brexit, they were also much more likely to vote.

AR At Oxford I studiously avoided student politics. Now I see there's no escape!

Ein gepflegter Ausraster britischer Schnösel

Die Welt

Selten haben sich Angehörige der britischen Elite so verzockt wie David Cameron und Boris Johnson beim Brexit. Die Erklärung dafür liefert womöglich der Club, dem beide als Studenten angehörten.

Sehr britisch, diese Nobel-Uni von Kotzford!

Die Welt

The Riot Clubder Film über Hooligans in Nobel-Uni-Uniformen. Vorbild war ein Club, dem auch David Cameron angehörte.

AR The Bullingdon boys trashed Britain — thanks, chaps!

Ray Tang/Rex/Shuttercock
London, Saturday: Thousands of anti-Brexit demonstrators marched from Park Lane to Westminster.

AR A vibrant democracy is not always a cricket match played to Westminster rules. On a question of existential importance,
the people may take to the streets, as many have done here, and overturn a majority that was achieved by foul means.
Governments are elected to serve the people, not fool them with party political games that shame our country.

AR Poole Park, June 7
— an age ago!

The Great War
Daniel Finkelstein

Both my grandfathers fought
in WW1. They were moderate
and patriotic men whose
memories my family holds
dear. They survived years
of fighting and came home
with medals for bravery.

As we commemorate British
war dead I bow my head. But
during the moments of silence
I recall this: My grandfathers
were on the German side.

Kazuo Ishiguro

We must think and act coolly.
The UK will not gain access
to the single market without
allowing free movement of
people. Do we as a nation
hate foreigners sufficiently
to deny ourselves access
to the single market?

"We need to confront
what kind of country
we want to live in."
Ed Conway

"Time does not exist.
Time exists for us."
Carlo Rovelli


2016 July 2

UK Still in Deficit in 2020

Financial Times

UK chancellor George Osborne has had to abandon his goal of reaching a budget surplus by 2020. The Brexit vote has torn up his economic plan and continues to convulse world markets.

British government bonds traded in negative territory. The FTSE 100 closed up on Friday but the FTSE 250 closed down compared to referendum day. The pound also ended the week down.

Osborne: "The government must provide fiscal credibility so we will continue to be tough on the deficit but we must be realistic about achieving a surplus by the end of this decade."

The Biggest Blunder

Andrew Marr

The decision for Brexit is its single biggest democratic act in modern times. But it is also a historic blunder, provoked for the wrong reasons and then pursued in the biggest establishment cock-up in my lifetime.

The cock-up started in 2012, when David Cameron and his closest political allies decided that the only way of scuppering UKIP and the Euro-hostile right of the Conservative party was to give the British people a referendum. Cameron decided to put party management and tactics ahead of grand strategy, grossly overrated his own negotiating skills, and has been badly bitten in the bottom accordingly.

The British political class has come close to destroying itself. My guess is that parliamentary chaos and a sense of drift will propel us into an election later this year or next. There is plenty of anger still to come.

Brexit Warns America

Anne Applebaum

The true impact of Brexit will not be visible for many years. The slow agony of the divorce proceedings will take up precious political time and energy in London and other European capitals. The UK will turn further in on itself, so British energy and talent will not be dedicated to solving bigger problems. Money will not be spent and opportunities will be lost.

Other European countries may now face political instability as well. Not just in the smaller European nations but also in France, the Netherlands, Italy, and possibly even Germany, the political scene may shift dramatically. Again, much of the damage will be invisible, taking the form of things that will not happen.

This referendum campaign was unique. Identity politics trumped economics. Arguments about independence and sovereignty defeated arguments about British influence and importance. The advice of institutions was ignored. Elected leaders were swept aside. If all that can happen in the UK, it can happen in the United States too.

Brexit Backlash

David Runciman

University towns voted overwhelmingly for Remain. But now the people whose sense of security and wellbeing has been shredded by the knowledge economy have taken their chance to answer back. The gap between the winners and losers in the new economy has been laid bare.

The economic winners find themselves on the losing side. In economic terms they still have plenty to lose, and populism will not hold much appeal. My sense is that underlying the voter demographics behind the result is the basic gap that now exists between people who can imagine a viable future for themselves in a networked world, and those who cannot.

The digital revolution reveals a future in which knowledge is the primary currency, connectivity the primary asset, and physical geography at best a secondary concern. People who are rooted in particular places, who work in industries that produce physical goods, and whose essential social interactions do not happen online are the ones who wanted Out.

The referendum result represents a rejection of the power of elites. The tragedy is that it has undermined one of the few institutions that operates on a scale that might limit the power of those elites. It shows that real people still have the power to surprise faceless networks.

Brexit Britain: Elites Run Amok

Deborah Orr

A week on from the referendum, no one knows who will be taking back democracy for us. But public money will be squandered on disentangling the UK from the EU and getting the elites the trade deals they want. When the government limits free movement, the islanders will have to buckle down.

Conservative MPs will spend the summer deciding which two candidates for leader and prime minister they will ask their membership to choose between. Then democratic accountability will be restored to sovereignty. With EU protection gone, our dysfunctional democracy will be all we have.

AR We voters broke it, we voters must fix it.

2016 July 1

Exit From Brexit

Markus Becker and Dietmar Hipp

A campaign to stop Brexit is gaining ground. Organised opponents are lining up their arguments:

1 The betrayal argument: The day after the vote, Leave campaign leaders disavowed central promises and the market reaction confirmed the fears of Remain campaigners. Voters felt betrayed.

2 The democracy argument: The result was too narrow. If millions of Leave voters were to change their mind in the next few weeks, it would be hard to ignore them. Leave campaigners lied to them.

3 The legal argument: The referendum is not legally binding. David Cameron was moved to call it not by the public interest but by party interests. Brexit is arguably a disproportionate response to a narrow majority.

Before the UK government enacts Brexit, experts say it must get the consent of Parliament.

Wir erwarten von London einen Fahrplan

Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Ich bin überrascht, wie wenig vorbereitet Großbritannien ist. Was mich am meisten ärgert, ist, dass die beiden Hauptkontrahenten bei den Tories aus einem zunächst nur innerparteilichen Konflikt eine ausgewachsene Staats- und Regierungskrise in Großbritannien gemacht und damit auch der ganzen EU Schaden zugefügt haben, nun aber die Verantwortung für die Folgen anderen überlassen.

Was wir von London erwarten, und zwar zügig, ist ein Fahrplan, wann die Verhandlungen über den Ausstieg mit der EU beginnen sollen und wie die Briten sich diese Verhandlungen vorstellen. Weitere Verzögerungen wären nicht wünschenswert, und sicher auch schädlich, für die Briten selbst und auch für uns in Europa. Es kommt jetzt darauf an, Europa zusammenzuhalten.

AR In short, foreign minister Steinmeier expects a plan from London as soon as possible. Delay would damage not only the UK but also EU member states.

A Nation in Peril

Tony Blair

The most important decision taken by the UK in many decades has left the country deeply divided. The question is how to unite, how to protect and advance the national interest, and what is the right future relationship with Europe.

This will not be easy. Leave elation is matched by a profound dismay in the ranks of Remain voters, and in the case of younger voters anger. To come safely through this we need adult politics.

The European Parliament has to agree any new deal for Britain. There is going to be a negotiation of extraordinary complexity where there are a thousand devils in every detail. This needs serious statesmanship.

The EU-27 could decide to deter other secessionist movements. We the British people will be face to face with our new reality.


Carlo Rovelli

Art has the ability to open our eyes to a different perspective on the world. Physics does the same thing. It opens our eyes to something new, more wide and true.

Science is the best tool we have. One should distinguish the actual job of doing physics, solving problems, learning how to do equations, from the sheer beauty of what physics is actually describing. The results can be appreciated by everybody.

In trying to understand quantum gravity, we find that there is no time at the fundamental level. Instead of time, there is only the change of things with respect to one another. Our feeling of passing time is due to our imperfect knowledge of the world.

Nature is so complex. If we learn to move from thinking of the world as an ensemble of distinct things to thinking of it as a network of interconnected processes, we will grasp it better.

AR I make time.
Battle of the Somme, 1 July — 18 November 1916: What happens when European solidarity fails

Alliance of the angry
deserves a second vote

David Aaronovitch


"This has been a
miscalculation of gigantic,
historic proportions."
Radek Sikorski

AR Radek is right.

Today, the danger
of some sort of a nuclear
catastrophe is greater than
it was during the Cold War
and most people are
blissfully unaware
of this danger.
William J. Perry

"There can be no democratic
choice against the European
Jean-Claude Juncker

"The United Kingdom will not
be the last member state to
leave the European Union."
Nigel Farage

Germany, France, and Italy
give London more time
but reject informal
talks on future

Global markets lose record
$3 trillion since Brexit vote

UK credit rating
from AAA
to AA

Leave UK and relocate
somewhere else in the EU:
Maybe Germany is the
place for you.

AR Yes it is.

"My Polish father-in-law did
more for Britain than any
graffiti-spraying racist."
David Taylor

"Austerity is the cause
of our economic woes. It's
nothing to do with the EU."
Mariana Mazzucato

BoJo, June 9
BoJo now vows to keep
UK in Single Market

Euro Trade

London is the financial
capital of Europe. Most global
trading in euros is in London.
Britain stopped the ECB from
forcing some of that business
into the EZ. Now the ECB
may try again.

Gabriel: Press UK
German SPD leader
Sigmar Gabriel demands
that Angela Merkel press
the UK harder to exit EU
as soon as possible.


Rise in Racism

A Polish community center
was daubed with racist graffiti
and far-right demonstrators
chanted abuse outside a
mosque amid a surge in
hate crimes following
the referendum vote.

Baroness Warsi said the
atmosphere on the streets
of Britain was not good.

Be Like Greece —
Ignore the Referendum!

"The key Leave campaigners
made contradictory promises
to the British people."
Philip Hammond

"They told us it was Project
Fear but you can see already
that it is Project Reality.
And all we got in the campaign
was people saying the governor
of the Bank of England and the
Treasury were peddling false
information. That was
pretty shocking."
No. 10 official

Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders

"It's the last thing I want
to see. It's not a game
of the best of three."
Nigel Farage


2016 June 30

Brexit News

The Guardian

Boris Johnson says he will not stand to be PM after his fellow Beleaver Michael Gove, the party intellectual, said he did not think Boris could be leader so he was standing instead. Supporters accused Gove of treachery.

Theresa May launched her bid to be leader and promised no general election before 2020. Liam Fox, Andrea Leadsom, and Stephen Crabb complete the list for the leadership election.

Jeremy Corbyn got into trouble at the launch of a report into anti-semitism in the Labour party when he said: "Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for those various self-styled Islamic States or organisations."

We can make Britain work for everyone

Theresa May

Today I launch my campaign to become the leader of the Conservative party and prime minister
of the UK:

1 Our country needs strong, proven leadership to steer us through this period of economic and political uncertainty, and to negotiate the best possible terms as we leave the EU.

2 We need leadership that can unite our party and our country. It is the patriotic duty of the Conservative party to govern in the best interests of the whole country.

3 We need a positive vision for the future of our country that works not for a privileged few but for everyone, regardless of who they are and regardless of where they're from.

I favour big changes to the way we think about our economy, our society and our democracy. We believe in capitalism, but we need to reform it.

We need to think differently about the role of the state. We have to cherish institutions like the BBC and the NHS. And we have to restore the contract between the generations.

Under my leadership, we will put ourselves at the service of ordinary, working people and we will strive to make Britain a country that works for everyone.

AR Excellent: Count me in.

EU Democracy

Amanda Taub

Leavers say the EU is elitist and undemocratic. The reality is more complicated. Technically, the EU has quite a lot of democracy going on.

The European Parliament is directly elected. Every five years, every adult EU citizen can vote for a representative. EU treaties define 751 seats. The Council of the EU is the upper house, with representatives sent by the governments of member states.

The two houses appoint civil servants and members of groups such as the European Council. These officials are both powerful and unelected. This is much like in many democracies.

Democracy is also about accountability. The EU was designed by technocrats and lets experts make sound decisions that rise above nationalist politics. To protect it from populists, there is no easy way to call them to account.

The EU does not feel very democratic. Its decisions seem remote, its leaders unreachable. When people are unhappy with EU decisions, they blame the bureaucrats.

Brexit may be unlawful

Philip Allott

Brexit would consist of two acts performed by the government. These acts are subject to legal evaluation. The government decides that the UK will withdraw from the EU and then it notifies the European Council of that intention.

The government acts in question are exercises of legal powers, which have limits. A legal power of the UK government affects the legal situation of many people, so the courts are firm in keeping the government within legal limits.

A directly affected person can request that a court conduct a judicial review to determine whether the exercise of a public power on a given occasion is within the limits. All public power is subject to the law applied and enforced by the regular courts. The ultimate guardian of the rule of law is a government minister.

A person might challenge the actions of the government in the process leading up to the Referendum Act 2015 on the ground that the motive for holding the referendum seems to have been not the public interest but the particular interest of a political party. A court can decide that it is arbitrary and unreasonable and disproportionate to base the decision to withdraw from the EU on the opinion expressed by a bare majority of people taking part in a referendum.

To withdraw from membership of the EU, the government is using the powers contained in article 50, which leaves the legality of a withdrawal decision to national law. An unlawful decision under UK law would be invalid for the purposes of article 50.

John Kerry: Brexit could be 'walked back'

The Guardian

US secretary of state John Kerry visited David Cameron and said he was loth to invoke article 50 or to start negotiating a thing he doesn't believe in, and has no idea how he would do it — "and by the way, nor do most of the people who voted to do it."

Asked if the Brexit decision could be "walked back" Kerry said: "I think there are a number of ways. I don't, as secretary of state, want to throw them out today. I think that would be a mistake. But there are a number of ways."

Frexit 1

Robert Zaretsky

The next crisis to confront the EU will be Frexit. The inability of French governments to redress the growing social and economic fissures in French society has encouraged a retreat to nativism and nationalism.

French president François Hollande has a dismal approval rating — according to a recent Le Monde poll, just 16% of French voters agree he is a "good" president.

In the wake of the Brexit vote, FN leader Marine Le Pen stood in front of a new poster displaying a pair of hands breaking free of a handcuff made of gold stars with a caption: "And Now France!"

Frexit 2

Anne-Sylvaine Chassany

On Saturday, François Hollande sat with Marine Le Pen at the Elysée Palace. The FN leader said she wanted an EU referendum. Hollande: "What would be the question?" In or out, she replied. "Out of the EU or the eurozone?" Of the EU, she confirmed.

AR Frexit would destroy the entire European order.

2016 June 29

Angela Merkel on Brexit

Ulrich Speck

German chancellor Angela Merkel has several views on Brexit:

1 She may be quietly hoping that the referendum can be reversed. Similar things have happened several times in EU history. She may be playing for time against those who want a quick Brexit.

2 She will minimise the damage if it goes ahead. She must protect the EU and sees a risk if Britain gets a good deal. Access to the single market will require respect for freedom of movement.

3 She sees UK membership as a counterweight to French dirigisme. Support for the EU is high in Germany but not in France. French president François Hollande needs to show his voters that exit is not an option, so he is inclined to punish Britain.

4 She sees the EU as an instrument of nation states and does not see it evolving toward the United States of Europe. In her view, Brexit would be a huge loss.

5 She knows the economic impact of Brexit would be damaging. After the US and France, the UK is Germany's #3 trading partner, but the terms of trade between EU-27 and a lone UK are unknown.

6 She fears Brexit could lead to a decline of European influence on the global stage, especially with regard to China. It would also make the EU a less attractive partner for the US.

Merkel does not want a divorce that destroys trust and humiliates Britain.

Brexit on Ice

Sebastian Fischer

Angela Merkel gave a speech about Brexit. Everything she said was correct. The address was undramatic and objective, Brexit on ice.

Brexit is an historical watershed in the history of Europe. People across the continent are searching for answers. Business as usual is not enough. Merkel should:

1 Push the pace
The British can choose when they apply to leave the union but they should get on with it, before they are tempted to block even more EU proposals.

2 Use the opportunity to relaunch the EU
With the British out the future EU will be different, so an opportunity for radical change has presented itself.

3 Boost an inspirational Europe
The EU is much more than a service provider for European citizens, whatever Merkel says.

Speed, change, and emotion — all lacking in her speech.

EU Migration

Francis Elliott

David Cameron told EU leaders last night that they must allow migration curbs if they want a future deal with Britain over the single market. He said refusal to reform freedom of movement rules during his renegotiations this year led to the British decision to leave the EU.

A UK government source: "He believes that one of the key issues in the referendum campaign, and therefore why a lot of people voted to leave, was this sense that there was no control on the scale of immigration or free movement."

Angela Merkel says Britain must choose between immigration controls and a trade deal involving membership of the single market — it cannot have both.

Boris Johnson was forced to reassure the Conservative right that he would fulfil his promise to limit immigration if he won the leadership. On Monday he suggested he would prioritise free trade with EU states, caused a backlash.

The EU four freedoms — movement of people, goods, capital, and services — are cornerstones of the single market.

Remaining UK options

Norway is in the European Economic Area. It accepts free movement of people and makes a payment to the EU in exchange for access.

Switzerland is not in the single market. It has a free trade deal for goods and access for some services but not full access for financial services. It accepted free movement of EU citizens.

Canada has a free trade deal with the EU. Canadians need a visa to work in the EU. The Canada deal will allow free trade in almost all goods apart from some farm products and in many services but not financial services. The deal took five years to negotiate.

Michael Gove mentioned the Albania model. Albania has free trade for industrial goods but not agricultural products and no single market access for financial services.

The Norway Option

Wolfgang Münchau

Membership of the European Economic Area — the Norway option — gives countries full access to the single European market, albeit with no say in EU politics.

EEA membership would be the least damaging to the British economy and would best minimise the transitional costs of Brexit. No British company would have to leave Europe. The City of London would keep its EU passport. This option is economically almost neutral.

But it would compromise several key Leave campaign messages. It would not allow Britain to curtail free movement of labour from the EU. The UK would still pay into the EU budget.

A new prime minister could set a time limit. Britain could decide later whether to continue in the EEA, opt out for a new agreement, or rejoin the EU, either under Article 49 or under some form of associate membership.

A Norway option is not ideal. Before the referendum, there was a broad consensus that there is really not much point in leaving the EU in order to join the EEA. But now it is the best choice left.

Elites of the World, Rise Up!

James Traub

The British have had their day of reckoning. The American one looms. France may face a similar fiasco next spring.

In much of Europe, mainstream parties of the left and right may increasingly combine forces to keep out the nationalists. Perhaps these informal coalitions can survive until the fever breaks. Cohabitation may be their only alternative to irrelevance.

The issue is globalization. Brexit, Trump, the National Front, and so on show that political elites have misjudged the depth of the anger at global forces. With prospects of low growth in Europe and the United States, voters are rebelling against their dismal prospects. Older people whose familiar world is vanishing are waving their fists at cosmopolitan elites.

Perhaps politics will realign itself around the axis of globalization, with nationalists versus pragmatists. The nationalists would see themselves as the defenders of sovereignty. The reformed center would include the beneficiaries of globalization and the marginal citizens excluded by the celebration of national identity.

Mainstream parties on both left and right are trying to reach the angry nationalists. But left and right disagree deeply about how best to cushion the effects of globalization and how to deal with increased migration. Even the threat of extremism may not be enough to bring them together.

The schism we see opening before us is deep. People are deluded and the task of leadership is to disillusion them. If it is now elitist to believe in reason, expertise, and the lessons of history, we should embrace it.

AR Bring reason and history to the masses with a globalist spin — CORAL

2016 June 28

Cameron gets frosty welcome at farewell EU summit

Financial Times

EU leaders have refused to engage in negotiations until Article 50 is invoked.

German chancellor Angela Merkel: "We will ensure that the negotiations will not be run on the principle of cherry-picking. We must and will make a palpable difference over whether a country wants to be a member of the family of the European Union or not. Whoever wants to get out of this family cannot expect that all the obligations fall away but the privileges continue to remain in place."

Dutch premier Mark Rutte said give Britain some space: "England has collapsed politically, monetarily, constitutionally and economically."

French prime minister Manuel Valls: "It's not up to the British Conservative party to set the agenda."


The Guardian

Result of Labour No Confidence motion: 172 for, 40 against, 4 spoilt ballots, 13 didn't vote.


Jeremy Corbyn

The government is in disarray. Ministers have no exit plan, but are determined to make working people pay with a new round of cuts and tax rises. Labour has the responsibility to give a lead where the government will not. To do that we need to stand together. I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics. Today's vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy.


John Kay

English politics is in chaos, Scottish politics is not. The SNP has a clear and positive vision of the future. The SNP will only call a fresh referendum if it is confident of winning it, but Scottish accession to the EU would be greeted with open arms. Even dallying with the prospect of joining the EZ might help things along.

A British Folly

Friends of Europe

This is just the beginning of a major political, constitutional and economic crisis in the UK. Within hours of the result, Sinn Fein had called for a vote on reunifying Ireland, Spain called for joint control of Gibraltar, and far-right leaders in France and the Netherlands called for their own EU referendums. Scotland wants to stay in the EU.

The Brexit leaders are in disarray. They never had a plan as to what voters would get instead of the EU. Westminster has a clear majority of MPs who support staying in the EU. The EU leaders are pushing for a rapid move on Article 50. The UK currently lacks any strategic political leadership. Business as usual will not do.

Britain spoke, Europe should listen

Etienne Davignon

Britain has sent Europe a message. Europe needs to heed it, because the same message is being repeated often and loudly by EU citizens.

The immediate priority must be restoring stability. Economic convergence, banking union, and energy union are all political issues related to specific problems. For these problems, sharing our sovereignty makes sense. But jumping to a federal political Europe is not the answer.

The British public were not impressed by the agreement reached by Cameron. Brexit shows politicians can no longer ignore popular frustration.

After Brexit

Marine Le Pen

The people of Britain have decided, with the courage of a people who embrace their freedom.

British voters understood the question: Do we want an undemocratic authority ruling our lives, or would we rather regain control over our destiny?

The European Union has become a prison of peoples. In the eurozone, different economies are forced to adopt the same currency, even if doing so bleeds them dry. The European Parliament is democratic in appearance but is based on a lie: We have tried to deny the existence of sovereign nations.

The British have presented the union with a dilemma. Either it allows Britain to sail away quietly and set a precedent. Or it makes the British pay for their departure and thus exposes its tyranny. I have a feeling Brussels will choose the latter.

Brexit will not make the union more democratic. Like all dying ideologies, the union knows only how to forge blindly ahead. Germany will lead the way.

I choose France. I choose sovereign nations. I choose freedom.

AR Wonderful rhetoric, better than any words from Farage, but subverted by a naive petitio principii over national identities.

Theresa May

Financial Times

Theresa May appears austere and remote, shuns the media, and refuses to put her private side on show. A leadership survey by ConservativeHome in June found that May was the choice of 35% of respondents, more than Boris Johnson, for party leader.

Just a few weeks earlier, as home secretary she spoke on police reform to the Police Federation in Bournemouth. With a piercing stare she listed the corruption, incompetence, racism, and gross misconduct that had scarred policing for over 20 years.

Theresa May Is Conservative Front Runner

The Times

Party support for Theresa May has soared, making her more popular than Boris Johnson in the race to become the next Conservative leader. The home secretary is now the betting favourite to replace the prime minister.

The English language could be banned from the heart of Europe after Brexit. English is the #1 choice for EU institutions but no state other than the UK has registered it as its primary language. So its legal status will be removed when the country leaves.

England out of Euro 2016: Iceland 2 England 1

Go Now

Daily Mirror

Britain is in its biggest crisis for decades and so is the Labour party. Jeremy Corbyn has lost control of his MPs with 46 resignations from his shadow cabinet and frontbench. He must quit now for his party and his country.

I do not believe that Brexit will happen

Gideon Rachman

Britain might be heading towards a second referendum rather than Brexit. Boris Johnson in February: "There is only one way to get the change we need — and that is to vote to go; because all EU history shows that they only really listen to a population when it says No."

German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble talks of negotiating an associate membership status for Britain. In reality, the UK already enjoys a form of associate membership since it is not a participant in the single currency or the Schengen zone.

What the new PM would need to win a second referendum is an emergency brake on free movement of people. It was a big mistake on the part of the EU not to give David Cameron this concession in his renegotiation of the UK terms of membership. A second referendum with a proper answer to the question of immigration should be winnable.

Anger in Berlin

Florian Gathmann

Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel wird sich heute ihre Regierungserklärung zum Brexit abgeben.

Aus SPD-Perspektive ist Merkels Kurs grundfalsch. Die Kanzlerin möchte den Eindruck vermeiden, Berlin wolle zu viel Druck auf Großbritannien beim Vollzug des Brexit erzeugen.

SPD-Chef und Vizekanzler Sigmar Gabriel sieht
die Gefahr aufkommender Fliekräfte in Europa, wenn man Großbritannien zu viel Zeit lässt. Gabriel: "Das Brexit-Referendum hat Großbritannien gespalten. Damit der Brexit nicht auch Europa spaltet, müssen die Staats- und Regierungschef jetzt schnell für Klarheit sorgen."

Nicht nur Gabriel sondern auch Sozialdemokraten Außenminister Frank-Walter Steinmeier und dem Chef des Europaparlaments, Martin Schulz, wollen Tempo machen in Sachen Brexit.

Gabriel und die SPD träumen mal wieder vom großen Wurf: Europa neu gründen.

AR In short: Chancellor Merkel is ready to give Britain more time to decide on Brexit. But the SPD trio vice-chancellor Gabriel, foreign minister Steinmeier, and European Parliament president Schulz want a fast Brexit.

Brexit and Angry Old Men

Jochen Bittner

Brexit was a victory for angry old men like Nigel Farage.

Our future is in danger of being taken away by the maniacs of disintegration. The vote for Brexit was very much one of the old against the young. The older the voter, the more he or she was inclined to leave.

We can still repair the damage done to democracy. Migrants and refugees have become symbols of the idea that elites have unleashed rapacious globalization that hits poor people hardest. Yet it is dangerously foolish to believe that Europe can somehow shut its doors to the world.

The outpouring of anger in Europe has only just begun.

2016 June 27

Brexit Turmoil Continues

Financial Times

Markets in turmoil: FTSE 100 down 2%, FTSE 250 off 5.9%, the pound drops 14%

David Cameron addresses House of Commons, advocates minimal change

Labour party in turmoil: dozens of shadow cabinet members resign

Britain Is Part of Europe

Boris Johnson

This EU referendum has been the most extraordinary political event of our lifetime.

The number one issue was control. We should restore to the people the power to kick out their rulers at elections. People who voted Leave were also inspired by the belief that Britain is a great country, and that outside the EU we can survive and thrive as never before.

Britain is and always will be a great European power. The only change is that the UK will extricate itself from EU legislation. This will bring golden opportunities for this country. The Government will be able to take back democratic control of immigration policy.

The verdict of history will be that the British people got it right.

AR Boris is no historian.

Brexit May Never Happen

Gabriel Roth

Across social media were reports of Leave voters waking up with remorse. Some were counting on a Remain victory and wanted only to send a message or press the EU for reforms — like playing a game of chicken with 64 million hands on the steering wheel.

If Boris Johnson becomes prime minister, he knows that as soon as he triggers Article 50 and begins the EU withdrawal process, the markets will plunge again. The more time that passes before the Article 50 notification is sent, the less likely it is to happen.

Conservative MP and Leave campaigner Liam Fox: "I think that it doesn't make any sense to trigger Article 50 without having a period of reflection first, for the Cabinet to determine exactly what it is that we're going to be seeking and in what timescale. And then you have to also consider what is happening with the French elections and the German elections next year and the implications that that might have for them."

Johnson would be tempted to kick the can down the road. Perhaps a blue-ribbon commission will meet for six months and then deliver a report to Parliament, which then engage in its customary vigorous debate. Maybe Johnson would call a general election and push for an aggressive renegotiation of UK membership in the EU.

The British establishment is good at muddling along. But a period of prolonged uncertainty about Brexit might be worse for Britain than just doing it. A long wait would see the Conservatives lose seats to UKIP. But a prime minister faced with a choice between that and the financial calamity of full Brexit might go for the lesser of two evils.

The biggest concern is Scotland. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has a strong incentive to press Johnson to invoke Article 50 so she can demand a new Scottish referendum. History is full of tragic ironies.

City Braces for More Losses

The Guardian

British businesses say Brexit will trigger investment cuts, hiring freezes, and redundancies. A survey by the Institute of Directors (IoD) found that most businesses believed Brexit was bad for them.

IoD director general Simon Walker: "A majority of business leaders think the vote for Brexit is bad for them ... Businesses will be busy working out how they are going to adapt and succeed after the referendum result ... But we can't sugar-coat this: many of our members are feeling anxious."

Food Prices Will Rise

The Independent

National Farmers Union president Meurig Raymond calls the referendum result a "political car crash" and warns that UK dependence on imports plus a weakened pound equals rising food prices.

The EU Will Treat Britain Like Greece

Matthew Holehouse

The European Union can be both flexible and brutal.

EU leaders have been ready to say goodbye to Britain for a long time. Britain has not left until Article 50 is activated formally. David Cameron has left it to his successor to activate it.

In brutal EU negotiations, Greece had a number of cards to play: EU solidarity, sympathy for the Greek people, and the German taxpayer cash in Greek banks that risked going up in smoke. And Greeks made plain they wanted to remain Europeans.

No such goodwill exists for Britain. Boris Johnson caused grave offence by likening the European project to the ambitions of Hitler. His declarations that Brexit will trigger events that unravel the entire project is like a declaration of war.

Recall how inflexible EU leaders were earlier this year, when Cameron put a gun to their heads and threatened to leave unless they submitted to his demands. He has fired that gun at his foot and resigned. The only leverage left is the damage a messy Brexit would inflict on EU economies.

The EU has had 70 years of practice in breaking nations.

A Very British Fiasco

Peter Bergen

It's not often that one decision can cripple your own economy, damage global investor confidence, imperil one of the most successful alliances in modern history, foster the rise of ultra-nationalists, precipitate the possible breakup of your own country, deeply divide your own party, and cause a great schism between voters of every ideological stripe, but this is one of them.

Well done, David Cameron.

AR Britain is facing its worst crisis since the war. But there is no Churchill in sight. We need a PM who can show enough leadership to kick the referendum result into touch until wisdom prevails, portray Leavers as dupes of wild newspapers and a UKIP plot, reassure EU leaders, and chart a course to rehabilitation in the global community.

2016 June 26

A Very British Coup

The Sunday Times

Labour plot
UK shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn was sacked this morning after being accused of plotting to overthrow his party leader. Benn had been consulting colleagues about approaching Jeremy Corbyn to tell him that unless the Labour leader resigned this week, they would quit. The coup attempt came amid mounting anger over Corbyn's failure to campaign harder against Brexit. A shadow cabinet source: "Corbyn will be out by the end of the week."

Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander resigned over the dismissal. Shadow minister for young people and voter registration Gloria De Piero and shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray have also resigned.

Benn: "It has now become clear that there is widespread concern among Labour MPs and in the shadow cabinet about Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of our party. There is no confidence that we will be able to win a general election as long as Jeremy remains the leader. He's a good and decent man, but he is not a leader. And that's a problem."

UKIP leader Nigel Farage: "We have the potential to keep a lot of the voters that we've got and extend out into Labour party territory in the north of England. In the Midlands and northern towns and cities the response to us on the referendum was huge. Once people have made that connection and they've left their party over a referendum, it becomes easier to leave your party over how you vote at other elections too."

Could Scots Veto Brexit?

The Observer

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon says the Scottish parliament could veto Brexit by blocking the passage of needed legislation: "If the Scottish parliament is judging this on the basis of what's right for Scotland then the option of saying we're not going to vote for something that's against Scotland's interests, that's got to be on the table."

A poll carried out just after the Brexit result revealed a bounce in support for Scottish independence. In 2014, Scotland voted to remain part of the UK by 55% to 45%.

Sturgeon: "There are going to be deeply damaging and painful consequences of the process of trying to extricate the UK from the EU. I want to try and protect Scotland from that ... As I watch what's happening in Westminster just now, the complete vacuum of leadership, it's shameful what's happened both in the Tory party and in Labour. I am determined that Scotland is going to be led, and led with purpose."

European Populists

Henrik Müller

Populists exploit general dissatisfaction. Only a quarter of European citizens think things in their countries are going in the right direction. The mood in the UK is far from the worst.

Populism needs only three ingredients: a national myth to weld a We together, a few enemies, and a halfway charismatic leader.

For economic development populism is highly problematic. Anyone who ignores economic limitations can quickly gain a following. But they will fail in the end.

European populists are enjoying the slipstream of Brexit:
— Geert Wilders in the Netherlands
— Marine Le Pen in France
— Heinz-Christian Strache in Austria
In eastern Europe some are already in government:
— Jaroslaw Kaczynski's PiS party in Poland
— Viktor Orbán in Hungary
— Robert Fico in Slovakia

Referendums are the populist power tools of choice.

Brexit — So What?

Christoph Schult

Brexit will have dramatic consequences for the UK. But for the EU they will be mainly positive:

1 Brexit will scare off copycats

Even if right-wing populists like Geert Wilders or Marine Le Pen look with longing to referendums, they are unlikely to win majorities for Nexit or Frexit. The flood of bad news from Britain over the next few weeks and months will be enough to scare voters.

2 Brits can no longer block things

Economic union must finally be realised so that national decisions no longer endanger the common currency. We need common economic governance and a European finance ministry with its own resources. The same goes for foreign and security policy.

3 We don't always need more Europe

It would make sense to return a few competencies from Brussels to national states. Although Brits will no longer get the deal David Cameron negotiated, the other 27 EU states can still implement some of its terms.

So more EU citizens will learn to love the union.



From Brexit to #Regrexit — an online petition demanding a second referendum on the Brexit result has passed 3 million signatures.

EU Referendum Rules triggering a 2nd EU Referendum

We the undersigned call upon HM Government to implement a rule that if the remain or leave vote is less than 60% based a turnout less than 75% there should be another referendum.

AR My signature is #2,774,019.


"This was their meanest hour."

"Es gibt nichts drumherum
zu reden, der heutige Tag
ein Einschnitt für Europa."

Angela Merkel


2016 June 25

Wake Up!

David Lammy

Wake up. We do not have to do this. We can stop this madness and bring this nightmare to an end through a vote in Parliament. Our sovereign Parliament needs to now vote on whether we should exit the EU.

The referendum was an advisory, non-binding referendum. The Leave campaign's platform has already unravelled and some people wish they hadn't voted to Leave. Parliament now needs to decide whether we should go forward with Brexit, and there should be a vote in Parliament next week. Let us not destroy our economy on the basis of lies and the hubris of Boris Johnson.

AR If Parliament fails to step up to the plate to reject this abortive experiment in direct democracy, my novelist persona envisions a brief military coup to stop the Beleavers and reject the referendum result in order to maintain national security. Not very plausible ...


The Times

Boris Johnson is the frontrunner to become the next Conservative prime minister. Theresa May is emerging as the leading Conservative "stop Boris" candidate.

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has started to fulfil her manifesto promise to hold another independence referendum in Scotland.

Market Reaction
Global markets took a $2 trillion Brexit hit, the biggest one-day drop since 2007.

A Shambles

Matthew Parris

Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Iain Duncan Smith, propped up by Nigel Farage, are not viable as a new British government. This will be a shambles.

Our experiment in direct democracy is hurtling toward our tradition of representative democracy. Within a year they will collide. The overwhelming majority of Westminster MPs believes that leaving would be a mistake.

Biggest Blunder Since WW2

Charles Kaiser

The numbing news that Britain has voted to leave the European Union is the worst step backward for Europe — and for Western civilization — since the end of World War II.

That hideous conflict left much of the continent in ruins. But it had two extremely positive effects:

1 Personal experience of the horrors of war has inoculated Europeans against all-out war ever since.

2 Visionary politicians pushed for the creation of what would become the European Union.

French ambassador to the United Nations François Delattre: "These are difficult times, and we must chase these evil winds of populism by addressing the real issues facing our democracies."

German ambassador to the United States Peter Wittig: "This is a really serious setback. We have to prove to the citizens that the European Union is there for them — that it is a union for the citizens and not a union for the bureaucrats."

A Leap in the Dark

Roger Cohen

Brits have given the world a massive kick in the teeth by voting to leave the EU. The decision will plunge Britain into uncertainty for years to come.

Warnings about the dire consequences goaded a mood of defiant anger among voters. They are revolting against global capitalism. The EU was a convenient target of their rage.

The EU may unravel. Dutch nationalist Geert Wilders tweeted: "Hurrah for the British! Now it is our turn. Time for a Dutch referendum!"

Brits voted against the global economic and social order. Now Britain will punch beneath its weight. It faces serious political and economic risk.

Russia Rejoices

Radio Liberty

Russian politicians, journalists, and nationalists are reveling in the UK vote to leave the EU. Russian TV stations spoke of a victory for Little England and cast the referendum as a nightmare for Brussels.

Russian ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky hailed the vote as a "heroic deed" by the British people: "Agricultural, provincial, working Britain has said no to a union created by the financial mafia, globalists, and the rest of them."

Cameron Ruined

Max Hastings

David Cameron has been destroyed by Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage. He now pays the price for years of unfulfilled pledges and for running a Remain campaign that disastrously misjudged the mood of the British people.

Cameron is a bright man but his personal clique is dominated by Etonians and PR men. He has never seemed to possess any vision of where he wanted to take Britain. When he became Conservative leader, he conveyed to party supporters and to the nation the impression that he was sceptical about the EU and committed to force change in our relationship with Brussels.

Cameron gave repeated public pledges to control immigration, then made no credible effort to do so. This failure has grown into the main cause of the breakdown of public trust in him. As the numbers of people coming to Europe increase into the millions, the response of EU leaders remains pitiful. Now tribal instincts have been roused and nationalists are in rebellion against ruling elites.

When Cameron leaves Downing Street, there will be no substantial legacy. He will be remembered chiefly for lighting the fuse that led to Brexit. He will leave the UK and his party more divided than at any time for a generation.

UK: Old Against Young

The New York Times

At Glastonbury, Lewis Phillips, 27, said he was now "terrified" about British economic prospects: "A group of pensioners have managed to make a decision for us."

In London, Louise Driscoll, 21, spent most of the day crying: "I had a bad feeling in my gut. What do we do now? I'm very scared."

The vote exposed a generational divide. According to pre-election surveys, 57% of Britons between the ages of 18 and 34 intended to vote for remaining in the EU, while 57% of Britons over 55 supported leaving. For those under 25, three-quarters wanted the UK to stay in the EU.

Many young people in Britain have grown up thinking of European integration as a given, not a political experiment to be rolled back.

2016 June 24

UK Votes OUT From EU


A clear majority of UK voters want to leave the European Union:
Leave — 17,410,742 (52%)
Remain — 16,141,241 (48%)

UK Prime Minister David Cameron resigns, with effect from October.

Sterling falls 10% to its lowest value since 1985.

EU Reaction

"We now expect the United Kingdom government to give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible, however painful that process may be. Any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty. We have rules to deal with this in an orderly way."

European Council president Donald Tusk
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker
European Parliament president Martin Schulz
European Union president Mark Rutte

AR This earthquake is a consequence of mass migration. Sovereign states across Europe want the freedom to restrict the flow. The EU can adapt and survive but it needs radical reform. Britain was always the odd one out in the EU and the other 27 states will find agreement easier. If sterling fails to recover quickly, Scotland may vote to leave the UK, join the EU and adopt the euro. That will be the end of the UK and an opportunity to write a new English constitution. The rump state might even one day find its way into a federal European polity.

Independence Day: Resurgence

Operation Barbarossa
75 years ago today:
Nazis invaded

Global Markets Soar
Pound soars as markets
bet on a Remain victory

Times poll:
Leave 51
Remain 49

Telegraph poll:
Remain 53
Leave 46

World Speed Record

The fastest computer
in the world is Chinese.
Sunway TaihuLight can
perform 93 quadrillion
calculations per second,
three times more than
the previous #1, and it
has 10.65 million cores
plus 1.3 PB of RAM.
Its power usage
is 15.3 MW.

SAP Update
Barbara Stortz

In a digital business, the
speed of decision making is
instantaneous, as everything
and everyone is connected live.
Every organization needs fast
and flexible access to data that
can be trusted. SAP continues
to innovate and invest in its
portfolio to offer customers
a foundation for a digital
Pixie Lott
Trafalgar Square,
London, Sunday

European Commission
President Jean-Claude Juncker

is under fire for his unilateral
style of leadership: Officials
in Berlin and Brussels are
losing patience

Jo Cox death sparks
EU referendum poll
surge for Remain

Tim Peake: “It's just been
fantastic from start to finish.
I'm just truly elated, just the
smells of Earth are so strong,
it's wonderful to be back.”

Gerald Scarfe

IMF: Brexit Bad

It would permanently lower
UK incomes and harm
EU economies too.


2016 UK EU Referendum Day

European Disunion

Jim Yardley

The European Union has mishandled the crises of the past decade. Political solidarity is dissolving. Xenophobic and nationalist parties are gaining strength in Poland, Hungary, Austria, France, and Germany. Their nasty tone infused the Brexit campaign with hostility toward immigrants. British nationalists depicted the continent as under invasion from migrants. A UKIP campaign poster looks like the propaganda of far-right politicians in Hungary or Poland.

2016 June 22

The Referendum

David Cameron

As far as I am concerned this referendum should settle the matter. I believe it will one way or another be decisive. Britain will not want to go through this again. On the other hand if we vote to leave, this really is irreversible.

We are the reformers. Reform ends if we leave, not just for us but also our friends in Europe who want our voice heard in Europe. I think us leaving would not only damage ourselves but also the kind of Europe we want.

I always said the best outcome was for Britain to remain part of a reformed European Union. NATO is the cornerstone of our security but the EU has a growing role in exchanging information on terrorism, criminals and borders.

Please Don't Go

Linas Linkevičius

We need Britain in the EU. There are 100 million people in countries between the Baltic and the Black Sea who remember how you fought for our freedom. When the Iron Curtain fell, you made sure we were included in the most important western clubs — the EU and NATO.

We don't like bureaucracy either — we had enough of that under communism. But likening the EU to a dictator is going too far. Trust us, we've been there and know the difference.

We fret about the unfairness of eurozone bailouts, want more free trade and less protectionism. We want the single market to be deeper and bigger, including services and the digital economy. But we have a voice, and it chimes with yours.

NATO stands for military security. But the EU offers economic security. It also stands up to Russian aggression. We need both organizations. And we need you playing a full role in both.

Brexit: Blame British Newspapers

Martin Fletcher

Boris Johnson was fired from The Times in 1988 for fabricating a quotation. He had made his name as a journalist in Brussels by tirelessly attacking, mocking, and denigrating the European Union.

By the time I arrived in Brussels, editors wanted only reports about faceless Eurocrats dictating the shape of the cucumbers that could be sold in Britain, or plots to impose a European superstate, or British prime ministers fighting plucky rearguard actions against a hostile EU. Much of the British press peddles narratives reflecting and exploiting the innate nationalism, historical sense of superiority, and disdain for Johnny Foreigner of many readers.

Recent headlines in the Daily Mail:
We're from Europe: Let Us In!
Ten Bombshells the EU's Keeping Secret Until After You've Voted
Greediest Snouts in the EU Trough

Recent headlines in The Sun:
We'll Get Stuffed by Turkey
Checkpoint Charlies: Euro Judges Open Floodgates to Illegals
Eur All Invited
Queen Backs Brexit
BeLeave in Britain

Boris and the Beleavers are asking the British people to leave a monster about as real as the one in Loch Ness.

Gender as Performance

Molly Fischer

Queer theorist Judith Butler introduced the idea that gender is a performance. It is not an essential biological fact but comes into being through repeated actions. The world as we know it has generally presumed everyone to be straight, and we can find ways of questioning this.

Butler grew up in Cleveland, and as a preteen she said she hoped to be a philosopher or a clown. She went to Yale for its philosophy program and remained through graduate school. Gender Trouble was published in 1990 when she was 33. The book drew on Foucault, Freud, Lévi-Strauss, Lacan, Irigaray, Wittig, Kristeva, and de Beauvoir. (Hegel, Derrida, and Nietzsche lurked in the background.)

Butler: "The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power."

In formulating her idea of gender performativity, Butler drew on the work of J.L. Austin, the philosopher of language who described performative utterances as speech acts that do something, like saying "I do" in a wedding ceremony. Her move was to apply this idea to actions as well as words.

AR So actions do something — forgive my LOL.

2016 June 21

EU Referendum Discussion

Bournemouth University

Conor Burns, MP for Bournemouth West, and Tobias Ellwood, MP for Bournemouth East, talked to students about the EU referendum. Conor wants to leave, Tobias wants to remain.

AR We had a stimulating and informative debate, thanks to excellent moderation.


Michael Fallon

I will vote to Remain. I am sceptical of radical change without proper consideration of the consequences, of turning everything upside down without a plan for what happens next.

In their dreams of restoring sovereignty or agreeing trade deals with our former colonies, what the Leave campaign really want is a different yesterday. What they lack is a coherent plan for tomorrow. We have to deal with the world as it is, not as we would like it to be.

To fight, to lead, and not to run away when things get tough — that's the British way. Our security is enhanced by our EU membership. The EU adds valuable tools that NATO cannot provide.

The current NATO Secretary General, five of his predecessors, and four former NATO Supreme Allied Commanders want Britain to stay. Not a single NATO defence minister wants us to leave.

As British defence secretary, I know that the global challenges we face cannot be confronted without cooperation between NATO and the EU, with the UK at the heart of both.

Leavers owe it to the British people to explain how they would guarantee our security and prosperity outside the EU. All we have had are vague promises and carefree assurances that everything would carry on as normal. For a sceptical Conservative, that is not credible.

Eurosceptic Conservatives must be ready to do the harder thing and champion our interest from within. For our security and our prosperity, we have to make Europe work.

EU Would Make UK Pay

Steven Erlanger

If Brits vote Brexit, they can expect a tough response. EU leaders will reject suggestions by Beleavers that the rest of the EU will trade with Britain on good terms. They want to deter other states from following the British example.

Once the British government invokes Article 50, the EU will likely talk about trade only after all the member states have agreed on how to unwind UK membership. Officials want to negotiate future arrangements with the UK as a nonmember. They do not want the status of EU citizens in the UK to become bargaining chips in the negotiations.

Brussels would offer Britain a choice of three models: the arrangements with Norway, Canada, and the WTO. They will reject any proposal for Britain to remain within the single market without an agreement that EU citizens will be allowed to live and work in the UK.

France would insist on a divorce. Populists throughout Europe will celebrate Brexit as a festival. NF leader Marine Le Pen compares Brexit to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Without the UK in the EU, Germany would become too powerful. Germans fear the formation of an anti-German alliance. The EU would become more French in its economic policy.

Former Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski: "Europe could forge ahead with a common security policy, which the British have vetoed repeatedly. And the countries of the eurozone would probably insist on all euro trade being moved out of Britain."

All agree that the EU is much better with the UK in it.

Good Riddance

Thomas Van Der Dunk

For Britain, the EU is no more than a distribution outlet for British exports.

As an EU member, London has consistently resisted deepening and supported enlarging the union. The result has been a subtle form of sabotage. The more the EU expands, the looser it gets, and ever closer union becomes increasingly impossible.

If the British vote to Remain with a small majority, the discussion will not be over. Should London be asked to make a new sacrifice for the common European cause, like contributing extra to help Greece or taking a proportional share of refugees, we can expect another mutiny.

When Brussels has sought to provide more economic protection to normal Europeans, Britain has stood in the way, the better to protect big business. Westminster wants unlimited access to the common market, but declines any fiscal or social obligations. It offers tax paradises for the rich and low wages for the poor. It forces more civilized countries to follow it in this race to the bottom by dismantling a welfare state model that has long assured security for all.

As long as the UK remains in the EU, the problems will continue.

2016 Summer Solstice

Brits Don't Quit

David Cameron

At my office I sit two yards away from cabinet room where Winston Churchill decided in May to fight on against Hitler. The best and greatest decision perhaps anyone has made in our country. He didn't want to be alone. He wanted to be fighting with the French, the Poles and the others. But he didn't quit. He didn't quit on democracy, he didn't quit on freedom. We want to fight for those things today. You can't win if you're not in the room.

A Colossal Blunder

Roger Cohen

The prospect that Britain might commit an act of national folly by voting to leave the European Union has politicians throughout Europe alarmed. This huge gamble would be taken for the chimera of restored sovereignty. It would reflect petulant nationalism, base bigotry, and laughable little England pretensions.

The European Union has significant failings. It is short on democracy and long on bureaucracy. But its achievements far outweigh its problems. For Britain to succumb to its delusions and leave the union would be a colossal blunder of historic proportions.

English Nationalism

Fintan O'Toole

Brexit is an English nationalist movement. A win for Leave will almost certainly be without a majority in either Scotland or Northern Ireland and perhaps without winning Wales either. The inexorable logic of Brexit is the birth of a new nation state bounded by the Channel and the Tweed.

Over time, the main outcome of Brexit is likely to be a standalone England. Over the past 400 years, England has been in first the United Kingdom in its various forms, then the British Empire, and now the European Union. The English are less used than they think to standing alone.

The English nationalist movement makes no attempt to articulate any set of social principles by which the new England might govern itself. Nationalism is about the line between Them and Us. Brexiters seem pretty clear about Them, but they need a much better sense of Us.

British Internationalism

Simon Schama

British institutions have been anything but insular in their origins and character. The vast majority of the 25 barons who obliged King John to sign the Magna Carta were Norman French. The Bill of Rights of 1689 that established our constitutional monarchy came about as the result of a Dutch invasion, and was the product of our being pulled into a European coalition resisting absolutism.

Breaking Bad

The Times

Former communities minister Baroness Warsi accuses UK justice secretary Michael Gove of peddling complete lies. She says the final straw was hearing UKIP leader Nigel Farage defend a poster with the slogan "breaking point" depicting refugees trudging across Europe.

Lady Warsi: "That 'breaking point' poster really was for me the breaking point to say I can't go on supporting this. Are we prepared to tell lies, to spread hate and xenophobia just to win a campaign? For me that's a step too far."

Tell Mama

The Times

Jo Cox was about to launch a report in parliament on the danger posed by nationalist radicals.

The report national monitoring group Tell Mama details rising aggression by far-right extremists and an increase in Islamophobia in the past 12 months. Tell Mama director Fiyaz Mughal said that there were clusters of far-right activity across Yorkshire.

In court, the accused Cox assassin gave his name as "Death To Traitors, Freedom For Britain".


Jo Cox

EU migrants contribute more to our economy than they take out in benefits.

Brexit is not the answer to worries about migration. It would not automatically stop the free movement of EU citizens to Britain. We would have to leave the single market, in a catastrophic act of economic self-destruction.

Australia has twice as many migrants per person as the UK. Their system aims to let businesses control who comes into their country. For us, this would lead to an increase in cheap labour.

People are worried about job security, school places, and the NHS. Leaving the EU is not the only way to deal with concerns about immigration. We can do far more to address immigration while remaining in the EU.

The prime minister is right: we are stronger, safer, and better off IN the EU.

2016 June 19

Aeroplanes and Leaky Roofs

David Cameron

If people want to leave this organisation, of course we must leave. But once you have jumped out of the aeroplane, you can't scramble back through the door. You could only get back in on the basis of joining the euro, Schengen and giving up the rebate. No one is ever going to want to do that.

I believe there is a clear case for Remain. I am making that argument as vigorously as I can. I believe in confronting big questions rather than ducking them.

When I'm at a European Council and explain to Angela Merkel that I'm going back to do my constituency surgery, they all look at me as if I'm a bit mad. You go from European migration to a leaky roof in two steps. It's very good for our politics.

Fear, Loathing, Brexit

Paul Krugman

Brexit would make Britain poorer. My rough calculations, which are in line with other estimates, suggest that Britain would end up about 2% poorer, forever. The risk that Brexit would undermine the City of London could be even more costly.

Some true Beleavers say leaving the EU would free Brits to deregulate and unleash the magic of markets, leading to explosive growth. This is voodoo wrapped in a flag. The economic case to vote Remain is as solid as it gets.

I sympathize with Britons who feel frustrated enough with the EU to leave. The EU elites never seem to acknowledge their mistakes. Brexit could jolt them out of their complacency and lead to reform. But I fear it would only make things worse.

A Brumpy Ride to Little England

Neal Ascherson
(heavily edited — AR)

The early lead for the IN crowd has melted away, and polls predict more OUT cast votes.

Remainians say Brexit will bring on economic armageddon — depression, devaluation, and decline.

Beleavers say Brexit will restore a sovereign nation that can have its cake and eat it too, with both full access to 500 million EU consumers and controls on EU immigration.

Great Britain may soon shrink into Little England. Westminster politicians look nervously to Scotland. Most Scots say they want to stay in the EU.

Brexit is overwhelmingly an English idea. English nationalist anger is aimed at the EU. In fact the English need to take back control not from Brussels but from bloated, privileged London.

Germans say Brump will no longer have access to the EU single market.

Outside the EU, Brump would be the pits. For foreigners, it would be less easygoing, more suspicious and more bureaucratic for work and travel. For Brumpits, it would become a less regulated, more unequal society. For the young, it would seem a dim and stifling place that anyone with imagination would want to escape.

AR My attempts to lighten the tone have introduced a few neologisms here.

2016 June 18


The Times

The Times believes Britain would be better off leading a renewed drive for reform within the EU rather than starting afresh outside it. This referendum has rightly been a thunderous rebuke to Europe. Leading a reform movement in Europe may not sound as exhilarating or romantic as a defiant march to Brexit, but it is the better choice for Britain and Europe.


Brendan Cox

The right has so far taken the initiative on the migration issue. Mainstream politicians try to neuter the populists by taking their ground and aping their rhetoric. Far from closing down the debates, these steps legitimise their views, reinforce their frames, and pull the debate further to the extremes.

The UK government policy is a masterclass in how to get the crisis wrong. They obsess over numbers when they should focus on reinforcing frames of fairness and order. They set an unrealistic target, miss it, report on it quarterly, and in doing so show a complete lack of control.

Across Europe, the populist right have shifted the public debate on the issue. In Germany, although a huge amount of energy goes into practical support for immigrants, the focus on this has left the public narrative for the populist right to exploit. In Poland, immigration dominated a national election debate in a country whose population is 97% white Catholic and immigration levels are tiny. In France, young people are many times more supportive of migration than older people.

People who know refugees and immigrants are much more likely to support migration as a whole. As our societies become more diverse and immigration reaches more communities, more people are likely to become less prejudiced and more supportive. Power on this issue is with the people.

2016 June 17

Jo Cox MP

The Times

Jo Cox was shot three times, stabbed and left bleeding on the pavement outside the library where she was due to hold her regular surgery. She was 41 and had been a Labour MP for just over a year. Mrs Cox was also a Cambridge graduate and a mother of children aged 3 and 5.

The alleged attacker, Tommy, 52, a loner with poor mental health, was arrested soon afterwards. Witnesses say he shouted "Britain first" in an apparent reference to the EU referendum. A far-right group has the same name. Mrs Cox was a campaigner for Remain.

Robots in Space

Martin Rees

The practical case for sending people into space is getting weaker as robots are getting better. Spaceflights have become an adventure sport. The space station only makes the news when something goes wrong or when Chris Hadfield plays the guitar.

The space station altogether has cost a twelve-figure sum because we've been up there for a long time. I don't think anyone could justify it to science since manned space exploration has slowed down. Each time a shuttle failure happened it held up the program for three years, paid for by taxpayers' money. Space flights should be left to adventurers prepared to accept higher risks.

I do hope that some pioneers will eventually land on Mars, but I think they'll either be Chinese or they'll be privately funded adventurers taking high risks and one-way tickets.

AR Agreed: NASA and ESA should spend taxpayer money wisely — on robots.

Jo Cox MP dead after shooting attack

Hass auf Muslime,
gegen Asylbewerber:
Viele Bürger denken völkisch
und finden in der AfD eine
politische Heimat.

AR The D-UK mirror:
Leavers look like
this to Krauts

Richard Arens
Two US immigrants:
Kurt Gödel and
Albert Einstein,
Princeton, 1950

Photo: Carl Court
Leave campaigner
and Tory intellectual
Michael Gove

"I'm with Hillary."
Barack Obama

"Honored to have you
with me, @POTUS."

New MC-21-300 airliner,
Irkutsk Aviation Plant, Siberia.
Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev:
"I am absolutely certain that
the airliner will be the pride
of Russian civil aviation."


Italy has 600 boats to patrol
its coastline for migrants.
The UK has 3.

AR Just say No to
Fortress UK.


2016 June 16

Vote Stay In EU

Financial Times

The FT does not favour membership of the single currency. But opting out of the EU would seriously damage the UK economy. Constructive engagement is vital when Europe confronts threats.

The referendum campaign is a contest between between liberal internationalism and a pinched nationalism, between an open-trading system and marginalisation. Britain's allies have unanimously supported Remain.

The influx of EU migrants has stirred fears about jobs, public services and British identity. "Take back control" in the name of democracy is a seductive slogan. But Leave has failed to spell out the serious risks of life outside the EU.

Britain's seat at the table has allowed it to win big arguments in Brussels. The UK has shaped membership to its needs, securing opt-outs from the euro and the Schengen agreement. It retains control of income tax and corporate taxation. Education, skills and a skewed housing market hold the UK economy back, not a Brussels bureaucracy the size of Birmingham city council.

Brexit is an act of sabotage. It would put the territorial integrity of the UK at risk and trigger a political crisis in the UK.

AR Vote In for peace and prosperity. Vote Out for confusion and chaos.

2016 June 15

LIGO Sees Second Black Hole Death Spiral

Lisa Grossman

On 26 December, 2015, for the second time, LIGO caught the ripples in space-time shaken off by the death spiral of a pair of black holes. The discovery was announced at an AAS meeting today.

Signal GW151226 also came from a pair of black holes merging. They were about 14.2 and 7.5 times the mass of the sun and merged to form a black hole of 20.8 solar masses, radiating about 1 solar mass of energy in gravitational waves in a couple of seconds. For comparison, our sun has radiated about a millionth of its mass in 5 billion years.

The new observation establishes gravitational wave astronomy. The black holes in the first event were so massive that LIGO saw them orbit less than 10 times before merging. In the second collision, the team watched 55 full orbits before the end.

EU Rescued UK

Daniel Finkelstein

In 1963, Britain was failing. It was being overtaken economically by Germany and overpowered by France. The end of Empire was coming and the Americans saw us as a bridge to the continent.

British prime minister Harold Macmillan saw that outside the European community the UK faced an eclipse. We finally joined the European community in 1973. Since then, we have grown faster than Germany, France, Italy, and even the US.

It is easy to say this growth has occurred despite the EU, not because of it. We have adopted a different economic model — which shows the EU does not dictate our laws and economic model. We have been free to go our own way.

This country is a better place to be than it was in 1973. Now virtually every democratic European country eligible to join the EU has wanted to do so as soon as possible — for good reason.


Yvette Cooper

Leavers are inflaming public concern with lies. Responding to public concern about migration is a challenge worldwide. Populists are getting free rein to rant and exploit public fears.

Michael Gove and Boris Johnson are being deliberately dishonest and divisive. Turkey isn't joining the EU. They meet one out of 35 criteria they need to join. Cyprus and Greece will veto them. Britain has a veto too. The NHS crisis is down to government policy, not immigration. Brexit would hit growth and mean less money for the NHS, not more.

Brexit will not help us to tackle illegal immigration. We need to cooperate over the Syrian refugee crisis. No country can solve it alone.

Brexit will not lead to big cuts in legal migration either. Over half of migration comes from outside the EU. Johnson has promised access to the single market and a good trade deal, so we would end up like Norway or Switzerland, with little change to EU immigration after all.

Voting Remain does not exclude backing reforms to migrations rules and controls. We dare not let anger over immigration overshadow the good reasons for staying in Europe.

2016 June 14


Nick Carter-Lando

Last year saw the highest level ever of EU net migration to the UK. A similar number came from outside the EU for a total of 333,000.

Imagine that we left the EU and banned EU immigration completely for 10 years. And for comparison, imagine we stayed in the EU and immigration continued at the present level (the highest ever) for the next 10 years. How would that pan out?

After 10 years we would have 1.85 million fewer people living in the UK. Our population is 64.6 million, so under these extreme assumptions the difference is about 3%.

Being more realistic, a points system might reduce net immigration to 100,000 per year, say half from the EU and half from elsewhere. The difference in population after 10 years would be 1.35 million, about 2%. If we use a 5-year average for net migration, the difference in our population after 10 years is only 790,000, just over 1%.

So the impact on population is relatively small. By far the most immigration to the UK over the last 40 years has been from outside the EU and had nothing to do with EU membership.

EU migrants make a big contribution to the UK. They contribute more in taxes than they use in public services, so if we use that extra tax revenue to hire more doctors, build more schools, invest in transport and so on, we can have better public services than otherwise.

The fundamental reason for NHS pressure, oversubscribed schools, congested roads, and the housing crisis is not EU immigration. For the last 30 years, we have failed by a wide margin to build enough houses in the UK. So house prices are high. The story of decades of underinvestment is repeated for our roads and railways too.

All of these issues are within the control of the UK government. They have nothing to do with the EU and are not the fault of EU migrants. A new study finds no evidence that immigrants take too many UK jobs or reduce wages or opportunities for British workers.

Our net contribution to the EU was £8.5 billion last year and our annual NHS budget was £116 billion. To work out the impact of leaving the EU on our public services, you also need to consider the effect that leaving would have on the size of our economy, and hence on government tax revenue. The best estimate suggests that the government would have between £20 billion and £40 billion less to spend on public services than if we remained in the EU. So our public services would be much worse. Devaluation following Brexit could wipe 20% off the value of the pound.

So leaving the EU to "take control of immigration" would not only still leave us with the same problems we have today in housing, the NHS, schools, roads and so on, but add to them a recession and damage to the foundation of peace in Europe.

Winston Churchill addressed the Congress of Europe in 1948: "A high and a solemn responsibility rests upon us here ... If we allow ourselves to be rent and disordered by pettiness and small disputes, if we fail in clarity of view or courage in action, a priceless occasion may be cast away for ever. But if we all pull together and pool the luck and the comradeship ... then all the little children who are now growing up in this tormented world may find themselves not the victors nor the vanquished in the fleeting triumphs of one country over another in the bloody turmoil of ... war, but the heirs of all the treasures of the past and the masters of all the science, the abundance and the glories of the future."

AR The UK is safer, stronger, and better off IN the EU.

2016 June 13

A Historic Moment

Donald Tusk

I can only hope the British vote not to leave. It is a historic moment.

The financial and the refugee crises have fueled uncertainty, led to an uprising against political correctness, and caused a movement against the establishment. A feeling of instability is growing.

Divorce is traumatic for all. Economically everyone in the EU would suffer, but especially the British. Brexit would cheer all radical anti-Europeans in the EU countries. And on Brexit day our external enemies would drink champagne.

Brexit would be a geopolitical setback for the UK. It could be the beginning of the end not only of the EU but of the entire political civilization of the West.

The dissolution of all contractual obligations and connections would be relatively simple, and would take about two years. Negotiating new relationships would be much more difficult. Each one of the 27 EU member states and the European Parliament must approve the overall result. That will take at least five years to complete, and I'm afraid without any guarantee of success.

Fragmenting Europe would be the worst response to our problems.

Anglo-American Alarm

Edward Luce

The Brexit referendum is a trial balloon for the health of western democracy. If the British are foolish enough to leave Europe, perhaps Americans are crazy enough to elect Donald Trump. Leaving Europe is to Brexiters what building a wall with Mexico is to Trumpians — a guillotine on the cacophonous multiculturalism of postmodern life. Both are reckless illusions.


Matthew d'Ancona

Xenophobic sentiments are presented as reason enough for Britain to leave the European Union. The Leave campaign is telling voters that getting out of the EU would fix the immigration problem. The response they expect unites outright xenophobia and racism with a more general fear of globalization.

The debate about population mobility and border control has been skewed by the misrepresentation of immigration as an inherently pathological process. Most immigration is no such thing. Migrant labour is routinely needed in this country by the NHS, supermarkets, cleaning firms, public transport, and most other sectors of the service economy.

Problems of capacity in housing and public service provision are a side effect of this core economic reality. Pragmatic border control is part of any social contract. But a society on the move is a direct product of the economic liberalization of the Thatcher revolution.

If Brexit carries the day, the jobs that migrants presently fill will simply be filled by non-EU migrants. Net migration from non-EU countries is greater than that from the EU. The status of these migrants will not be affected one way or the other by Brexit.

AR In other words, block Poles and get Pakistanis. I have nothing against Pakistanis, but Catholics are easier to tolerate than Muslims. I vote for the easier option.

2016 June 12

Saving the West: A German View

Der Spiegel

The future of the West is at stake. The European Union has unified western Europe for seven decades. Britain is a bridge between Europe and the United States.

The British would lose much with Brexit and gain nothing but a brief moment of pride. They have irritated the rest of Europe for years with their special requests, self-pity, and wretched haggling over every last detail.

Saving the West: An American View

Roger Cohen

The British referendum is too close to call. The disaster if Britain voted to leave would be huge.

For Russian president Vladimir Putin, the disintegration of the European Union would be sweet revenge for the fall of the Soviet Union. Brexit would offer comfort for the fantasies of populist politicians like Donald Trump in the United States and Marine Le Pen in France. Trump calls NATO obsolete when we need it to defend the Baltic states from Putin.

Brexit would devastate Britain too if England and Scotland parted. A season of anger is upon us.

Self in the Digital Age

Edward Mendelson

The digital revolution changes what it means to be human. When everyone is carrying a smartphone, they can be found and intruded upon, not only at a fixed address at home or at work, but everywhere and at all times. A newly pervasive and transient sense of self has migrated to the digital cloud and to the judgments of the crowd.

Teenagers use messaging services to open private channels of communication after encountering one another in social networks. The zombie apocalypse is upon us as the undead lurch through the streets, each staring blankly at a screen. The Internet turns experiences from the material world that used to be densely physical into abstractions in a world of pleasure and immediacy.

The crowd has always been the field in which isolation dissolves and the individual will merges into collective impersonal force. The habit of making and seeking status updates of oneself and others creates a similar crowd that coalesces bodies into monstrously connected chimeras. Machines change the deepest experience of life.

2016 June 11

Brexit: A German View

Wolfgang Schäuble

The withdrawal of Britain would be a heavy loss for Europe.

Britain is one of the strongest economies in the EU. London is Europe's largest financial center, and Britain plays a leading role in all matters of foreign and security policy. That is why Europe is stronger with Britain than without it.

Britain is economically very closely integrated with its European partner countries. Were these ties to be cut, it would be a huge step backwards for the country and would weaken it considerably. In the era of globalization, splendid isolation is not a smart option.

One has to respect the sovereignty of the British people. No one knows how the markets would react on the day after a decision like this. If the British do vote to leave the EU, it will be important to remain calm.

In response to Brexit, a call for more integration would be crude. Even if only a small majority of the British voters rejected a withdrawal, we would have to see it as a wakeup call and a warning not to continue with business as usual. Either way, we have to take a serious look at reducing bureaucracy in Europe.

On foreign and security policy, we need the British in Europe. Whenever anyone on the European mainland tried to oppress other countries, the British were their most prominent adversaries, and they tipped the balance each time. That was true in the fight against Napoleon 200 years ago, just as it was against Hitler 80 years ago.

Europe has grown through crises. It has emerged stronger from each one. Six years ago, many no longer thought the common currency had much of a future. Today the euro is the uncontested second reserve currency in the world, and it is stable.

One country alone cannot lead Europe, especially not Germany. We need France and Poland. The EU is far better balanced with Britain than without it. And the more Britain gets involved, the better Europe works.

I have always greatly admired and respected Britain.

2016 June 10

IN or OUT?

Public EU debate, New Milton, Hampshire
My speech

AR  I spoke alongside Roy Perry, formerly an MEP and now Leader of Hampshire County Council. Leading the charge against us was Paul Bailey, founder and chief executive of Col-Tec plc and former UKIP parliamentary candidate. The audience was aggressive and I fielded many hostile questions, but afterwards I won a big round of applause and shook numerous hands. A win, I guess, although most of them will probably still vote OUT.


Jens Stoltenberg

NATO is the most successful alliance in history. Now we are positioning ourselves to address an increasingly confident Russia. We have enhanced our presence in the eastern part of the alliance.

At the NATO summit at the beginning of July in Warsaw, we will determine how to defend ourselves in future. Our planning staff has proposed sending battalion-sized units to the east. We will improve our infrastructure and position materiel and reinforcements in the region. The NATO rapid reaction force has been tripled in size, to 40,000 troops.

Our stronger presence in the east is in keeping with the counsel of our military planners. We can deploy NATO soldiers all over the world on extremely short notice, including to the Baltics. Today, the decisive factor is rapid deployability. We do not want any confrontations. We are working to establish a more constructive relationship with Moscow.

NATO is an alliance of 28 democratic societies. History shows that democracies have forged the strongest military alliance that has ever existed. In the end, democratic societies are stronger and more resilient than any autocracy. Democracy, individual civil liberties, and the rule of law are the basis for our unity. These values are fundamental to NATO.

2016 June 9

Celts End Fortress UK Dream

Financial Times

Sir John Major and Tony Blair travel to Northern Ireland to warn Brexit could jeopardize the peace process and the future of Fortress UK.

The two former prime ministers say Brexit could see the reintroduction of a hard border in Ireland between north and south, reigniting political tensions.

Sir John also claims that if Britain left the EU it could trigger an "uncontrollable and irresistible" demand for a second independence referendum in Scotland.

Sir John: "That means the unity of the United Kingdom itself is on the ballot paper."

AR Vote Leave means vote FUK means end of the Union, hello Little England minus its Celtic fringe, and Albion alone in a sea of troubles.

2016 June 8


Tim Montgomerie

David Cameron always understood the danger. He wanted an emergency brake so that freedom of movement would still be the norm but that the UK would have the power to cap numbers in abnormal or extreme circumstances. Angela Merkel apparently said no.

Last year's net immigration influx of 333,000 could be 444,000 this year or 555,000 next. There is no upper limit. A recession in Europe could accelerate the flow of unskilled workers to Britain.

In a campaign when so many unbelievable things are said by both sides, the right of this island nation to control who lives and works here could hardly be more tangible.

If Brits vote Leave, it will be because of a desire for border control and an Australian-style points system. Any arrangement that preserves freedom of movement will be ruled out.

AR This is an emotive issue for many, and easy to have a robust opinion on, independently of humanistic scruples or sympathy for poor people elsewhere, and it plays on the widespread British propensity to construe "we" as native British islanders.


Poole Mayor Xena Dion in a 1909 Stanley Steamer Xena unveils the Poole Park Photomosaic

Mind and Cosmos

Thomas Nagel says something
more than physics and biology
is needed to explain conscious
beings. He says we can't know
what it is like to be a bat. We
cannot be bats. For him, this
refutes a naturalistic theory
of everything. He proposes a
natural teleology to imagine
the universe waking up
and becoming aware
of itself.


"Once you have paid him
the Danegeld, you never
get rid of the Dane."
Rudyard Kipling

Rumble in the Jungle
George Foreman, Muhammad Ali
Zaire, 1974

Hillary Clinton
"Donald Trump says he has
foreign policy experience
because he ran the Miss
Universe pageant in Russia ...
His ideas are not just different,
they are dangerously incoherent.
They're not even really ideas,
just a series of bizarre rants,
personal feuds and
outright lies."


2016 June 7

Vote Lead

Gordon Brown

As the EU referendum looms, two anxieties collide: the fear of job losses if the UK leaves and the fear of high immigration if it remains.

Britain has no empire and its special relationship with the United States is played out. Leavers try to summon a patriotic vision of Britain standing alone, a race apart, an island fortress, independent of Europe. Remainers want Britain to maintain a positive engagement with Europe.

The positive case for the UK in the EU is to lead its next stage of development. Britain can put itself in the vanguard of charting a course for Europe. A new agenda can help reinvigorate Europe and promote the union that the international community needs:

Terrorism  Britain is home to respected intelligence agencies well placed to lead a more professional European effort on intelligence sharing and surveillance.

Refugees  Britain must help the union provide its neighbors with new educational, economic, and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Climate change  With British encouragement, Europe can lead the world in renewable energy projects and in building the world's leading network of scientific researchers.

Economic revival  Britain can play a vital role in making the EU an engine of global growth again. The future of the continent lies not in a United States of Europe but in a United Europe of States.

On July 4, 1962, President John F. Kennedy called for a "declaration of interdependence" with a Europe pledged toward a more perfect union and urged Britain to champion a united Europe. He was right. Britons should vote Lead, not Leave.

AR Flash Gordon to the rescue again!

2016 June 6


Gideon Rachman

Trump cards: Remainers have the economy, Leavers have immigration.

In 2015, net migration to the UK hit 333,000, the second-highest number on record, with about half that number coming from the EU.

Leavers say immigration from Europe demonstrates loss of sovereignty, the faulty judgment of elites, and the difficulty of achieving meaningful reform of the EU.

A nation state traditionally has the right to decide who can live in the country and enjoy the benefits of citizenship. That right is sacrificed by EU members. Free movement is one of the four freedoms basic to EU membership. All EU citizens have the right to live and work anywhere in the EU.

Leavers blur the distinction between legal immigrants from the EU and refugees from the Mideast. They even cite sexual assaults by migrants in Germany.

Migration from Europe has benefited Britain. But many British people are ready to accept that high immigration makes social problems worse.

Concerns about immigration could win the day on 23 June.

Vote Leave

Boris Johnson

Last year, 270,000 people came to the UK from the EU and net migration was 184,000. Since 2004, 1.25 million people have been added to the population due to EU migration.

London has benefited in so many ways from migration. As Mayor I argued consistently for a more sensible visa policy that would welcome talented people from across the globe, people recruited on the basis of their skills.

People of all races and backgrounds in the UK are genuinely concerned about uncontrolled immigration. We need to answer those concerns by taking back control of those borders.

We cannot control the numbers. We cannot control the terms on which people come and how we remove those who abuse our hospitality. Worst of all, this has deeply damaged faith in our democratic system.

The Government has failed because inside the EU we cannot control immigration. We have to accept the principle of free movement. The only way to take back control of immigration is to Vote Leave on 23 June.

AR Immigration to the UK from outside the EU is the problem. EU migrants represent economic opportunity all round. If we make the effort, we can control the influx of outside immigrants already, Brexit or not. Brussels has nothing to do with it.

2016 June 5

Clash of Generations

Niall Ferguson

There is a conflict of interest between young and old. Last week, voters aged 18-24 were in favor of the UK remaining in the EU by 78% to 22%. Voters aged 65 and over favor Brexit by 68% to 32%.

US millennials are in trouble unless they see dramatic change. They have had two recessions, students have mountains of debt, most face high healthcare costs and mediocre job prospects.

Social democracy won last century. It entrenched the position of trade unions and created public sector jobs with generous pensions and other benefits for older workers, above all in healthcare. When tax revenues did not cover the costs, social democrats borrowed.

The liabilities of the US federal government vastly exceed stated government debt. Generational accounting shows a huge gap between future federal outgoings and revenues. To close it would require every federal tax to be increased by 53% or every federal expenditure to be cut by 34%.

Young Americans will either pay much higher taxes than their parents or get much less in social security and Medicare, or both. They need reform of the bloated entitlement system, the public sector unions, and the universities.

Young Britons oppose Brexit because they will have to pick up the tab if the UK votes to leave.


Alain de Botton

Marriage is a gamble taken by two people facing a future they cannot imagine. They are drawn together by instinct and know it is right. Romance outweighs reason.

We think we seek happiness in marriage. What we really seek is familiarity. We seek to recreate feelings from childhood.

We make mistakes because we are so lonely. To choose an optimal partner we have to be at peace with the prior prospect of years of solitude.

We marry to preserve the joy we felt when we proposed. We failed to see that there was no solid connection between that and the marriage.

Abandon the romantic ideal. The best partner is good at disagreement. Compatibility is an achievement of love, not its precondition.

AR Marry well, be happy. Marry badly, become a philosopher.

2016 June 4

Working Toward the Führer

Neal Ascherson

The Third Reich maxim to work toward the imagined aims of Adolf Hitler pushed him to ever wilder extremes. Anyone who could persuade others that he was carrying out the Führer's will would get his way. A chaotic struggle raged between opportunists who claimed to speak his mind. The maxim cuts Hitler down to size and widens responsibility for the ensuing disaster.

Hitler devoted his life to acting the Führer. His private life was boring but he was a tremendous orator. Beginning with droning and dull recitals of fact and analysis, he would suddenly shift his voice upward almost an octave, double its pace, and explode into yelling demagogy. He became chancellor not by his own efforts but by those of idiots who claimed to manage him.

In 1933, the Nazis smashed parliamentary democracy, silenced all opponents, brought a chaos of voices under central control, and imposed a national revolution. Hitler ruined the groups that had led him to power: the titled landowners and the officer class. His legacy in Germany includes a stronger sense of social equality and solidarity. A new Europe rose out of the ruins.

2016 June 3


Robert Minto

Academic philosophers often disregard the possibility of finding philosophy outside the university. Yet unlike most departments in the modern university, philosophical activity seems to have a niche in every society in recorded history. Philosophy is so primitive and socially basic that its domestication in the university can seem dubious or laughable.

For much of its history, philosophy was the study of particular things. Although some strands of philosophy assert the unity of philosophical and scientific knowledge, philosophy is usually taught as a specifically European innovation in human history. But the tradition stemming from the ancient Greeks does not explain all the philosophy in world history.

Perhaps philosophy is like dance, a practice inherent in human life and society, which emerges in a host of forms in different places and times. Philosophy can be found wherever and whenever humans begin to reflect on the concepts by which they live. If philosophy is a basic human activity, not to expand the borders of its history would be absurd.

Most philosophers end up advocating a specific kind of philosophy, relying on tactics of exclusion. Philosophy as an academic discipline depends upon its distinction from other disciplines and upon the assumption that it requires its own setting and credentials to exist. Academic philosophers are in danger of betraying the activity they profess to represent.

AR With four degrees in philosophy and experience of teaching it at Oxford, I guess I count as a philosopher in the bad sense as well as the good.

2016 June 2


Angela Merkel

We work well together with the United Kingdom.

We have to develop new rules for the European Union together with the UK. Whenever we negotiate them, you can much better have an influence on the debate when you sit at the bargaining table and you can give input into those negotiations, rather than being outside of the room. Having led many negotiations with countries outside the EU in the past, I can say we would never enter the same compromises and reach the same good outcomes with states that don't share the responsibilities and costs of the common market.

I personally hope and wish that Britain will stay.

2016 June 1

Wake Up

Jochen Bittner

Germans are still traumatized by their history. Setting aside whether Nazism arose from the German DNA, four trends led people to revolt: economic depression, loss of trust in institutions, social humiliation, and political blunder. These trends echo in the West today.

The 1929 crash set off a global depression. Things were bad in Germany, just as traditional ways of life and values were being shaken by modernization. A cultural chasm opened between the traditional working and middle classes and the cosmopolitan elite.

Some people today think Hitler sneaked up on Germany. In fact, mainstream politicians saw the danger but failed to stop him. The conservative parties and the nobility believed he could be their useful idiot, contained as chancellor by a squad of reasonable ministers.

Earlier this century, Europeans and Americans thought things were fine. The 2008 crash left many millions of people angry. The result is a protest against globalized postmodernity. Liberal democracy has become too elitist to respond to the challenge.


Daniel Finkelstein

My family came from Lwow (now Lviv) in Poland.

The peace and security we take for granted is fragile and precious. Britain often went to war to preserve the balance of power in Europe. World War II really ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The EU is a huge achievement.

Jonathan Besler Photo
Wagnerian weather in southern Germany

Blogs 2000—2016

2016 Q4
2016 Q3
2016 Q2
2016 Q1
2015 Q4
2015 Q3
2015 Q2
2015 Q1
2014 Q4
2014 Q3
2014 Q2
2014 Q1
2013 Q4
2013 Q3
2013 Q2
2013 Q1
2012 Q4
2012 Q3
2012 Q2
2012 Q1
2011 Q4
2011 Q3
2011 Q2
2011 Q1
2010 Q4
2010 Q3
2010 Q2
2010 Q1
2009 Q4
2009 Q3
2009 Q2
2009 Q1
2008 Q4
2008 Q3
2008 Q2
2008 Q1
Back to Top © J. Andrew Ross 2016-07-24 Contact