Column: MP Commissiong On Britain’s Brexit

June 30, 2016

[Opinion column written by Rolfe Commissiong]

The political scientist and theorist Francis Fukuyama in a 1989 essay once wrote that with the triumph of Western Liberal values – the precursor of neo-liberalism at the end of the cold war – that that would signal an end to history itself.

Well on the 23rd of June, 2016, millions of British voters thought otherwise and it now appears that history is back with a bang.

As I outlined to the House of Assembly nearly two weeks ago, on the issue of a living wage for Bermuda, the 2008-2009 financial crash signified that the patient in question; that being the over three decade long neo-liberal dominated global economy which was facilitated firstly by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President Ronald Reagan,was indeed on life support. In effect, it had suffered a massive coma.

With the decision to exit the European Union by largely English voters as opposed to those of Scotland, who voted strongly to “Remain”; I think that now we can safely assert that with respect to the patient’s life support system, the plug has been finally pulled, notwithstanding the quixotic attempt on the part of millions who now claim buyers remorse and are demanding a do over vote – in essence, a second referendum as their economy takes a wholly expected and significant hit.

Apparently, the cosmopolitan bankers, insurers, bond traders and Millennials in London are determined to not go screaming into that good night, as represented by the decision to “Brexit” the EU.

Rolfe Commissiong Bermuda June 30 2016

Certainly, David Cameron – who will now go down as having made the biggest political miscalculation or blunder in recent political history, right up there with Napoleon’s decision to invade Russia – stated this week in the Commons that the vote was final and the result must be respected.

And Cameron’s fellow EU leaders at a recent post summit dinner in Brussels, sparing no effort to mock him, and to indulge in a bit of shadenfruede or delight in the misery of others, leaked to the press that the dinner in question was “Cameron’s last supper”. Although to be fair – what has occurred – has resulted in a proverbial hex upon both their houses.

And while the animus of the “Leave” campaigners was directed toward the much maligned EU; that body itself served as a proxy in my view for the global economy of which the EU and its institutions – one could argue – supremely, and symbolically epitomized.

As to the implications for Bermuda of this vote, taken some 3,000 miles away, at the very least we will need clarification as to how this decision will impact those Bermudians who have either obtained UK citizenship or will in the future and thus all the rights and privileges associated with European Union citizenship.

All signs at this point seem to indicate that that right is likely to be revoked.

Even more disturbingly racial and ethnic hostility is on the rise in the UK in ways not seen in decades, as the so called “Little Englanders” have in their minds taken their country back not only from immigrant Poles and other Europeans but also it seems from people of colour – some of whom have lived in the UK for two or three generations. With at least two thousand or so black Bermudian migrants now living in Great Britain, it is something that we must watch with some concern.

As to the impact of our off shore sector, the question as to whether or how this will will affect Bermuda’s risk management and/or global insurance sector which just achieved Solvency II equivalence with the EU, has to be weighed – and pardon the pun – the short to mid term risks assessed.

On the positive side, there is a view that Bermuda due to its safe haven status could be the beneficiary of London based companies, particularly from the Lloyd’s market, deciding to domicile in Bermuda in order to maintain their relatively unfettered regulatory access to the EU marketplace.

This potentially would be an attractive option precisely because Bermuda with its long coveted “Solvency II” status now secured, means that Bermuda based global re-insurance and related service providers are on the same regulatory footing as their EU based counterparts and/or competitors.

Third, this decision in my view will have major constitutional implications with respect to the over three century long union known as the United Kingdom, particularly as it relates to Scotland which voted solidly in favour of “Remain” and potentially even ourselves.

In addition, we should not lose sight of the fact that this decision on another level signifies a coming of age or re-emergence of a uniquely “English” identity.

On the other hand, this outcome will result in an ongoing diminution or a fracturing of what we have known as the “British” identity which was the dominant, overarching national identity of a combined United Kingdom for centuries or at least in the modern era.

Without Scotland – who are surely looking in all likelihood to secede from the union now – there is no Great Britain and certainly in real terms no United Kingdom, although Wales and Northern Ireland would beg to differ.

Lastly, I would keep an eye on developments in the United States as some of the same issues revolving around globalization and its so called discontents are evident there as well.

The great irony is that the UK has found its own analogue to presumptive Republican Presidential candidate Boris Johnson right down to his Trump like hair.

Boris, a Conservative MP in the House of Commons who also at times wears his racial and ethnic bigotry as easily as Trump, was one of a small number of Tory M.P.s seen as a potential successor to replace David Cameron as Prime Minister. However, the leader of the Conservative “Leave” campaign, now indicates that he will not stand for the leadership of his party.

Both political parties whose leadership elites for the most part backed the “Remain” campaign, including of course the Labour Party, led by the now besieged Opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, are in complete disarray.

We can only hope that America will not make the same mistake in this regard as the UK appears to have done and give in to its own atavistic, ethno-nationalist and racist passions in November.

- Rolfe Commissiong


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Comments (23)

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  1. Truthhertz says:

    “We can only hope that America will not make the same mistake in this regard as the UK appears to have done and give in to its own atavistic, ethno-nationalist and racist passions in November.”

    Just like you and your supporters displayed on the Hill in March 2016 Mr. Commissiong

    Or is that somehow different and of course understandable/acceptable?

  2. hmmm says:

    Me, me, me, a few incorrect classifications, followed by race baiting.

    What has Rolfe ever actually done? Anyone ?

    • From 1 troll to another says:

      He like others on this blog site have used their real name when writing opinions.

      Unlike you/me who are afraid to as the PEOPLE say “keep it real” and we continue to hide behind keyboards when making insults.

      • hmmm says:

        So is that the best you could come up with for what Rolfe has actually done.

        • Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

          That’s it…that’s the extent of it right there…can’t answer questions so they retort with an attack…

  3. LostinFlatts says:

    Well written, but does raise the question:
    How can one so well versed in these worrying political times decry the emotional, racial-based vote in the UK and also be an active member of the PLP?

    Surely seeing the largely disenfranchised, racial majority vote against the ‘elite’ as we saw with the Brexit is exactly what the PLP want to see here?

    If leveraging falsehoods, disregard for factual truth and inciting ‘us vs them’ mentalities is something to be regretted in the UK, it is to be regretted in Bermuda?

  4. Noncents says:

    What Rolfe fails to acknowledge is that there are significant parallels between his PLP party and that of the UK’s leave and US Trump campaigns.

    They are all conservative right-wing anti-immigration groups. Don’t be fooled, there is nothing progressive about the PLP.

  5. Wrong says:

    Maybe the two thousand Bermudian immigrants in the UK you refer to now know what it’s like being an immigrant in Bermuda. Given cold looks and receiving unwelcoming comments from the majority population.

    • reddamtibi says:

      Oh poor you…I for one will never leave Bermuda – they drug us here in shackles now they better prepare for the consequences.

    • I'm just sayin... says:

      It’s amazing that you call the two thousand Bermudians in the UK immigrants……they just finally went home to the ‘Motherland’.

      Lest you forget Wrongo, Bermuda has been British since 1609!

      Only a country that colonized 3/4 of the known world would have problem with “immigrants’.

      UKIP much?

  6. rodney smith says:

    The pages of human history, are being turn by an unseen hand .History is just repeating itself. More rapid changes will soon happen . Bermuda must prepare itself for these changes .

  7. Truth is killin' me... says:

    A true leader moves before everybody else does, the rest merely follow. Follow the leader, leader, leader, follow the leader!

  8. uiq says:

    “Even more disturbingly racial and ethnic hostility is on the rise in the UK in ways not seen in decades, as the so called “Little Englanders” have in their minds taken their country back not only from immigrant Poles and other Europeans but also it seems from people of colour – some of whom have lived in the UK for two or three generations.”

    “On the rise” where, and how, in the UK?

    Racial and ethnic tensions have always existed in the Britain. However, available reports suggest that serious race-related or -inspired disturbances have been on a downward trend since the 80s.

    Moreover, the worst racial and ethnic hostility and violence over the past few years hasn’t involved “Little Englanders” (or whatever the equivalent epithets are for the Welsh majority which voted in favour of Leave as well, and the substantial Scottish and Northern Irish minorities who voted the same way).

    It has primarily been between Afro-Caribbean and South Asian Britons in England and between sectarian groups in Northern Ireland.

    Perhaps the author is correct in his suggestion that racial hostilities are in the offing in Britain. But so far the “Brexit” result seems poor evidence of such.

    • Truth Teller says:

      The usual apologetics from the never me, never us crowd.
      Let’s stop the denial. Commissiong is spot on as numerous reports confirm.

      It so bad that even high level Tory’s are condemning the rise in racially inspired incidents n the UK.

      It must be just a nasty American problem I guess.

      • uiq says:

        “It so bad that even high level Tory’s are condemning the rise in racially inspired incidents n the UK.”

        And Labour Party leaders are wrestling with bigots and anti-Semites in their own ranks, which the Tories must find hilarious.

        So what? The author didn’t provide any specifics as to what he meant, which is what I was asking for. Instead he said “ethnic and racial hostility is on the rise in ways not seen in decades.”

        Incidents of verbal abuse and drunken hooliganism aren’t very encouraging but they don’t amount to anything like a return to the race riots or ethno-religious militancy of the 50s-80s.

        I guess you just had to live through those times to know what he thinks he thinks he knows.

  9. MarkTwo says:

    Firstly, the leave result wasn’t due to ethno-nationalism. Yes some people who supported Leave were that, but there are many more reasons pro-Leave than you have clearly considered.
    Secondly, Boris Johnson is a numpty. But Donald Trump he isn’t. He is not right-wing nor is he ever going to be. He just finished two successful terms as Mayor of (an extremely ethnically diverse) London and supported immigration and foreign workers. Supporting the leave EU camp doesn’t mean you’re right wing…
    Thirdly, Bermudians in the UK are very safe and will continue to be.

  10. Who Done it says:

    Interesting quote:
    “We can only hope that America will not make the same mistake in this regard as the UK appears to have done and give in to its own atavistic, ethno-nationalist and racist passions in November.”
    could be:
    We can only hope that Bermuda will not make the same mistake in this regard as the UK appears to have done and give in to its own atavistic, ethno-nationalist and racist passions in 2017.

  11. ALVIN WILLIAMS says:

    I have been saying for a long time with respect to the numbers of Bermudians who have become economic refugees in Britain; what will be their answer if the British citizen asked the question; why should Bermudians enjoy the social benefits in Britain while I a British citizen can not enjoy the same in Bermuda? Well I think we have gotten our answer with the recent vote to leave the EU; the British are fed up with giving everybody a free ride and having to pay for it. It’s been Bermuda’s dirty social secret having the British pay for our social short falls; it’s been something that the political divide on both sides have turn a blind eye to; but perhaps with the recent vote; it can not continue to be ignored.

    • the struggle is real says:

      If Bermuda had anywhere near the land mass and resources to take on an indeterminate number of people, that would be a valid concern. If, say, 20,000 people from the mother country just showed up on our doorstep one day( obviously that is an extreme example, but go with the general theme here), where are these people going to work? Live? Go to school( kids)?

      I take your point that it’s ‘unfair’ for Bermudians to just show up in the UK on a whim and take advantage of the social services afforded all British citizens, but we are simply too finite in resources, jobs, and housing for it to be an open border to other British citizens. TO be clear, I agree with you in principle, but logistically I don’t see how it’s possible.

  12. Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

    Y’all think Britain made a mistake..? Do you really think the EU is the way to go..? w0w…y’all really are out of the loop…Then comes the NAU…and you’re right smack in the middle…don’t think you’re gonna have a say in anything…what’s coming is bigger than you could ever conceive…Instead of waiting to be told…go out and find it.

  13. Dependent says:

    Thank god we are a dependent territory!

  14. Luis Suarez says:

    As much as it pains me to say it, this is a well written piece which makes a mockery of the nonsense spouted by colleague Walton Brown earlier in the week.

    Rolfe has hit the highlights nicely here, but for once please leave black racial tension out of it – you just couldn’t help yourself. Some things are not about race. The Brexit vote was nationalist, but not racist.

    • Truth Teller says:

      Clearly “Luiz Saurez” it was about both depending on the demographic in question as it relates to the overall “Leave/Brexit” voting base.

      Stop being in denial.

      I guess white nationalist support for Trump is an illusion too made up by individuals who are indulging in too much politically correctness and who just love to play the race card.

      For black people this matters. It also matters for white allies who are anti racist in their orientation. What side are you on?

      There are a lot of principled conservatives who voted to leave the
      EU but like in the US they are allied with rank white supremacists and as Mr. Commissiong states “Ethno Nationalists”.

      Everyone knows that historically the English have not only considered themselves superior to others but also have considered themselves superior to their fellow Europeans.