18 December, 2017

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What Could Save The United Kingdom?

By Laksiri Fernando

Dr. Laksiri Fernando

Dr. Laksiri Fernando

This is of course a speculative investigation, but not without any foundation. One may say it is already too late, but better late than never. The lessons even may shed some light on our own issues in Sri Lanka. At the Brexit referendum on the 23th June, the United Kingdom became badly divided. This may most likely to continue and exacerbate. One may say that all referendums of this type (“One Night Stand” by Dharmawardana, Colombo Telegraph, 25 June) tend to divide nations, but at least not at this scale or intensity. Therefore, there is something profound underneath.

When a similar referendum took place in 1975 to decide whether the UK should remain in the European Economic Community (EEC), the predecessor of the present European Union (EU), of course the people became necessarily divided on the ‘Yes or No’ issue. But the divisions were fairly even (except Northern Ireland being hesitant) throughout the country and it was not this close, dividing the country almost half-half. In 1975, 67 percent of the voters said yes, while only 33 percent saying no. The turnout was 65 percent.

Deep Divisions

But this time it was different. Unprecedented 72 percent of voters turned up. They were closely divided; 52 percent wanted to ‘leave’ while 48 percent wanting to ‘remain.’ It was rather close, compared to 1975. Most alarming was the divisions on ethnic, class, generational and regional lines. The deviations were large. England and Wales wanting to ‘leave’ with 53 percent in both, while Scotland and Northern Ireland wanted to ‘remain’ with 62 and 59 percent respectively. Then what made the final result to ‘leave’ was the higher population concentration in England. Out of 65.1 million population in the country, 55 million or 84 percent is in England (8 percent in Scotland; 5 in Wales and 3 in Northern Ireland).

In a way, Scotland was consistent between 1975 and 2016, the same percentage of voters (62 percent) wanting to ‘remain.’ It was Northern Ireland which made a ‘volte-face,’ perhaps as a protest vote on both instances. Then what made the people in England, except the more urbanite Londoners, and those in Wales wanting to leave? It is explained as a “Victory for Nationalism” (Kamla Wickremasinghe, The Island, 29 June) but many others also explain the same phenomenon as a shift to the right, increasing xenophobia against the migrants and even rising racism in England and Britain.

To be fair by the Kingdom, it also should be said that the UK was a reluctant partner of Europe (EEC and EU) throughout. That is why a referendum was required in 1975. This reluctance was also there among many other members, leading to several referenda in Europe, and it becoming a ‘new’ device of public decision making, effectively or not. Even this time, it was the admission of certain disadvantages of the EU membership that prompted David Cameron wanting to have a referendum. It turned out to be suicidal for him at the end. Why?

Apart from a clear class polarization between the (service) middle class/s and the workers, a major gap of perceptions and priorities have become revealed between the intellectual elite/s (experts) and the ordinary masses. While the former are over enthusiastic about globalization, neo-liberalism and macroeconomic indicators, the latter are down to earth on job protection, welfare and day to day living. There were major economic grievances behind the decision. EU has benefitted certain sections, but not the general masses as such. Even the poverty has increased over the years. The welfare system has crumbled. This is one reason why even Jeremy Corbin or Tom Watson (Labour Party) were reluctant in campaigning for the ‘remain.’ Britain has been the mother of all welfare systems in the world. The EU has killed that mother. The verdict at the Brexit is not only against the EU, but against neo-liberalism.

Consequences

The ‘downside of the situation’ (this is admittedly an underestimation) is that if not handled properly and delicately, the situation might exacerbate even in Europe creating a situation where the people might move very fast into right wing politics or even towards new type of fascistic movements. A cold war between Britain and the EU has already started. While the British leaders want to take time, streamline, and negotiate terms rather informally, the EU has become strict, dismissive and pungent. The EU Council President, Donald Tusk, and the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, have been uncompromising, perhaps Angela Merkel prompting behind. Firs they said ‘no negotiations without formal notification’ (the Article 50). Now Juncture says, ‘There is no free market ‘a la carte,’ to mean if no free movement, no free British access to the EU market. Free movement or migration was a key issue why people wanted to quit.

I am not taking the side of UK, but EU leaders also should understand the delicate people’s verdict if they are democratic. Obviously the EU leaders are also quite nervous. The hesitation on the part of Britain for the EU is long standing, Charles de Gaulle, the semi-dictator of France, initially blocking the Britain’s entry into the EEC. The Britain is the second largest economy in Europe, after Germany, but the EU has been undermining it. Most alarming is EU leaders’ behind the scene flirtings with the leader of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, although Spain has objected to her overtures. She has been trying to fish in the trouble waters even before the final referendum result was out, by declaring a necessary second referendum on ‘Scotexit.’

There are dangers of Britain becoming disintegrated. Nicola Sturgeon wants a second referendum for Scotland’s independence. The last referendum in September 2014 was a failure; 55 percent disapproving independence, while 45 percent wanting to leave. It has already been divisive. Sinn Fein also wants a referendum for Northern Ireland to decide on unification with the Irish Republic (an EU member) aftermath of the Brexit referendum. While it appears more logical than the Scottish claim, it is more divisive than the Scottish intention, as it would divide the whole of Northern Ireland along the Unionist (pro-British) versus Unificationist (pro-Irish republic/EU) lines.

There are so much of economic and trade matters to be sorted out by Britain as a result of this single referendum. If there are two other referendums for Scotland and Northern Ireland, the additional economic fallout could be disastrous apart from the political disintegration. To believe naively, that the Scottish or the Irish people would remain in the good kingdom, is an illusion. At decisive or controversial referendums, in highly charged atmospheres, people are usually driven by emotions. They may change their positions later, but then the situation might be too late. Didn’t a referendum allow Adolf Hitler to assume supreme powers in 1934? It is better to be cautious of referendums at all times.

Federalism as a Way Out

Then what could save the United Kingdom? The age-old British National Anthem says ‘God save our gracious Queen.’ Gracious or not, it is better to save the United Kingdom, for everyone’s benefit, if possible minus the Crown. The God is not going to save the Kingdom. If Britain disintegrates, it is most possible that Europe also might disintegrate. It may appear beneficial for the Orient or Asia, but it is not.

There can be a negotiated settlement for the present political predicament in Britain. I am not competent in suggesting economic solutions for the economic predicament. However, a political settlement can be on the lines of a Federal State, necessarily through a Written Constitution. When the United Kingdom emerged at the beginning of the 18th century, it had all the elements for a proper federal system, English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh peoples and their areas of habitation and some form of political/administrative structures. No federalism can emerge artificially, but naturally. In the case of Britain, the size of the country or the island/s and their constituent make up were well suited for a federal system, the England also having natural regional divisions. In other words, the United Kingdom was more suited for federalism than most of the other federal countries. I am also not the first person to say so.

There had been some discussions on those lines since late 19th century in Britain and F. S. Oliver and Lord Selborne were two of the first persons to advocate federalism (John Kendle, “Ireland and the Federal Solution,” 1989). However, the thinking later developed in the direction of devolution, Britain taking a zig zag development without managing to consolidate the situation. The ‘Empire’ prevented serious discussions on the subject thereafter, taking the situation into granted. If federalism was implemented as first contemplated, even the secession of the Irish Republic in 1922 probably could have been prevented.

The pride in the (former) Empire, undue influence of the aristocracy, obsession with an unwritten constitution and inflexibility to move away from the unitary concept prevented the adoption of a federal system. A federal system required the drafting of a written constitution and abandoning of the unitary concept. The post-Second World War situation was more opportune for its adoption but the opportunity was not utilized. The extensive devolution implemented in a piecemeal fashion thereafter, although at times appeared sufficient or effective, was utterly haphazard. Perennially asymmetric devolution created serious imbalances and instability. In the absence of elected body/bodies for England, the English representatives unnecessarily wanted to dominate the Westminster. The people in England also lacked their own elected body. It has also been a popular grievance against devolution (Bernard Burrows and Geoffrey Denton, “Devolution or Federalism?” 1980). Even devolution could have prevented the situation, if implemented in a balanced manner through a written constitution. But that was not the case.

Federalism or devolution is not a panacea for any country. But both can be effective constitutional mechanisms to resolve and/or mange intractable problems in diverse or divided societies, if implemented along with other political and public policies. What is suitable for a particular country would depend on the particular historical, social and political factors. In the case of the United Kingdom, however, federalism might be more suitable than the prevailing asymmetric and haphazard devolution to unite the country, to prevent secession and to put the country back on a sustainable economic direction. Even in a country where devolution is more suitable than federalism, asymmetrical devolution is not the way to go about it.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    1

    What Could Save The United Kingdom? How about getting our politicos to run the place for a few years.

    • 4
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      The EU referendum showed how a democracy works for the people if it is put into practice without selfish motives. The country faces temporary problems, but it will come out of it without being hurt. It is only matter of time for the things to return to normal. People are very optimistic. 65% of British business is outside EU countries.

      David Cameron should not have brought the referendum issue in his election pledge but he honored it. Once the result was out he decided to resign as he thought he will not be the suitable person to negotiate the leaving process as he supported the stay and said the country needed a new leadership. He put the country first where as our Alibaba (MR) still wants to become the leader even after two rejections within a year.

      • 3
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        It is better for non British citizens to comment about saving Britain. Most of the older generation Srilankans both Sinhalese and Tamils voted for BREXIT, as they too are fed up of EU and the demands they impose on Britain. Therefore this is not simply a victory for English nationalism over economic prosperity.

        Whether one likes it or not Britain is the gateway to Europe and will be the financial hub of Europe after UK leaves EU. US will always stand behind UK as the most trusted partner. Already FTSE has reverted to the pre-referandum figure and the pound will soon regain its past value. UK economy is sure to bounce back.

        If you think carefully, the turmoil is in Scotland and Northern Ireland and not in England or Wales. Scotland wants to leave UK, and Irish Catholics have applied for Irish passports to travel freely to EU countries. It will be better for UK to allow Scots to secede and go ahead with or without Northern Ireland.

        England is the only place in the world where every country in the world wants to land there planes. Therefore to expect English people to be subservient to others is foolish. English answer to EU should be taken as a reminder to Srilanka, that if Tamils are to be treated shabily by Sinhalese, they will do the same.

        • 0
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          Though publicly the US has reiterated its ‘special relationship’ with the UK, there has been a growing sense within the US foreign policy circles that the relationship with Germany, already leading the coordination with the US on many issues like the sanctions on Russia, has become more important. Brexit would inevitably reduce UK’s clout with the US. But Brexit may open up more opportunities to SL immigrants in the UK if it leads to more restrictions on immigration from within the EU.

          • 2
            3

            There is already demand for an EXIT referrandum in France, Netherlands and Slovakia. Germany may follow suit. Ultimately EU will consist of poor and insignificant European states.

        • 2
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          Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam

          “It is better for non British citizens to comment about saving Britain.”

          It can be equally applied to Sri Lankan affairs.

          “Most of the older generation Srilankans both Sinhalese and Tamils voted for BREXIT, as they too are fed up of EU and the demands they impose on Britain.”

          Have they all made an informed choices, or did they display their ignorance and want to be seen as loyal to the country more than the natives.

          I am told they are too worried about school places and job opportunities for their great grand children. There may be certain amount truth in this but the evidence suggest otherwise, they too are racist to their core as they do not like East Europeans moving into their neighborhoods.

          Just accept it.

      • 0
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        So long as 40 thieves back AliMaRa he will try to get into premiership at least to protect other accomplices in his family and others like WW and fraudster of PoA and other like him.

        Even comparing British PMs with leaders of contrasting Sri Lankan leaders is an insult to the former patriots.

        Britain will bounce back economically but her global influence diminished. Scotland may secede but Protests in Northern Ireland will not go along with that decision, which might even trigger another civil war.

        Without European Court of Human Rights workers, women and ethnic minorities in UK will face discrimination.

  • 1
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    Nothin will happen to UK> they will go to an Economic union.

    but, Scotland or Ireland want to separate that can not be avoided except by the economic conditions of the union and each country taken separately.
    When they become poor they try to go on their own.

    There are not permanent things. Every thing changes. that is just buddhism.

    • 1
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      I agree with you that there are no permanent things in this world. This includes sovereignty and territorial integrity of Srilanka.

      • 0
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        Only consolation is that Tamils never had their own country.

  • 2
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    I remember reading an interview a few years ago that featured Singapore’s Lee Kuwan Yew mentioning that the EU one day would ultimately become unstuck.
    Can anyone throw more light on this prediction by him?

      • 3
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        Paul Man

        Thanks

    • 1
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      Thanks for the link Paul.

    • 7
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      And this is the best of LKY at the last- the man!

      Professor P.S. Dialectical originating from Hegel must bow to merry England.

      wicked pol muddhu article??

      Europe’s declining international voice, however, will not result in its living standards falling by the same magnitude. If it can survive the break­ up of the euro, it goes back to what it was. Europe loses its voice in the world, but the countries in it have a high standard of education and skills and can make a good living. There will be some decline, but each country will reach a steady state at its own level of competitiveness. The Europeans will lead lives that are happy enough.

      I write more in sorrow than in derision about Europe’s inevitable decline. I do not want to run Europe down. The Europeans are a very civilised people. Yes, they were colonialists – the French, the Belgians, the British and the Spaniards. But the French had their mission civilisatrice to transfer their civilisation to the Africans. And on the whole, the British left institutions behind them, including in Singapore. We had the rule of law, we had statutes, we had the English language and we were wise enough not to change any of that. They have helped us to grow. Their institutions were already working. What I did was to make sure that we did not subvert the institutions but reinforced them.

      The Belgians, in stark contrast, left Congo in a mess. They extracted the raw materials and when the time came to leave, the place just broke up into tribal warfare. Congo is still in trouble today. In Guinea, Charles de Gaulle was so angry with Ahmed Sekou Toure, who was a forceful freedom fighter, that they ripped off all the electric and telephone wires before they left. Guinea has still not recovered from that. They did not do that to all French colonies but they did that to Guinea because Sekou Toure baited the French government. Thus, Sekou Toure inherited a non-working system, which he never got back into working condition. These things make a difference.

      If the British had left me with a French or Belgian situation, I am not sure I would have been able to build it up to today’s Singapore. The British left in good grace. The main building of the Istana was occupied by the last Governor, Bill Goode, who handed it over intact, everything in order. He took me around and introduced me to the butlers and so on before leaving. From here he went to North Borneo for a while and then retired.

      We should be thankful for their(British) system and their graceful exit.”

      England did not do it by logic, did they? They did it by their tentacles.

  • 0
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    Dr Laksiri Fernando,

    I just want to build up on your article.

    The Brexit has opened a vista of opportunities, mainly to reorganize Europe and the international order.

    Federalism may be a way out. I am not recommending to Federalism to UK, but to European Union as a whole.

    It looks much more logical.

    The process commenced soon after the Second World War with the formation of the European Common Market. The progress from European Common Market ECM to European Union EU through European Economic Community EEC was not swift, but slow and steady until it was rudely interrupted with BREXIT.

    What Next?

    Let me now come out with my dream, may be idealistic but sensible – a United States of Europe.

    it may look farfetched now, but in the long run, it may be inevitable.

    But for this to be realistic, UK as it stands today should disintegrate into a number of sovereign states-England, Wales and Scotland and Northern Ireland unite with the Irish Republic.

    The other countries in Europe had already undergone this process leaving UK to be the last.

    United States of Europe is an exciting prospect!

    History always moves forward mysteriously – Two steps forward one step back.

    • 3
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      Sri- Krish

      Brits are well known for their astute diplomacy.

      Brits will have the cake and eat it too.

      EU can make noises here and there, Member countries know too well where their interest lies, unlike the little islanders of this island.

      Ultimately there will reach a deal, a face-saving mechanism, win-win situation for all the parties to celebrate.

      Have you ever asked yourself, what is in it for all of us?

  • 0
    0

    God save the Queen!

  • 2
    1

    This is a worthy article published in The Independent to read:

    As the dust settles on the EU referendum battleground, some 33 million voters await with bated breath to see what the victors will do now that the nation has spoken to leave.

    Political commentators forecast a dark future for the UK: Jeremy Corbyn has just sacked Hilary Benn to head off a coup, and Boris Johnson could be prime minister come November.

    David Cameron’s decision to resign before enacting Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which sets out how a country could leave the EU, may have much bigger implications for Conservative hopefuls eyeing up the Prime Minister’s seat than they bargained for.

    While panic ensues, one person’s musings in the comments section of the Guardian has an interesting hypothesis on these complications:
    If Boris Johnson looked downbeat yesterday, that is because he realises that he has lost.

    Perhaps many Brexiters do not realise it yet, but they have actually lost, and it is all down to one man: David Cameron.

    With one fell swoop yesterday at 9:15 am, Cameron effectively annulled the referendum result, and simultaneously destroyed the political careers of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and leading Brexiters who cost him so much anguish, not to mention his premiership.

    How?

    Throughout the campaign, Cameron had repeatedly said that a vote for leave would lead to triggering Article 50 straight away. Whether implicitly or explicitly, the image was clear: he would be giving that notice under Article 50 the morning after a vote to leave. Whether that was scaremongering or not is a bit moot now but, in the midst of the sentimental nautical references of his speech yesterday, he quietly abandoned that position and handed the responsibility over to his successor.

    And as the day wore on, the enormity of that step started to sink in: the markets, Sterling, Scotland, the Irish border, the Gibraltar border, the frontier at Calais, the need to continue compliance with all EU regulations for a free market, re-issuing passports, Brits abroad, EU citizens in Britain, the mountain of legislation to be torn up and rewritten … the list grew and grew.

    The referendum result is not binding. It is advisory. Parliament is not bound to commit itself in that same direction.

    The Conservative party election that Cameron triggered will now have one question looming over it: will you, if elected as party leader, trigger the notice under Article 50?

    Who will want to have the responsibility of all those ramifications and consequences on his/her head and shoulders?

    Boris Johnson knew this yesterday, when he emerged subdued from his home and was even more subdued at the press conference. He has been out-manoeuvred and check-mated.

    If he runs for leadership of the party, and then fails to follow through on triggering Article 50, then he is finished. If he does not run and effectively abandons the field, then he is finished. If he runs, wins and pulls the UK out of the EU, then it will all be over – Scotland will break away, there will be upheaval in Ireland, a recession … broken trade agreements. Then he is also finished. Boris Johnson knows all of this. When he acts like the dumb blond it is just that: an act.

    The Brexit leaders now have a result that they cannot use. For them, leadership of the Tory party has become a poison chalice.
    When Boris Johnson said there was no need to trigger Article 50 straight away, what he really meant to say was “never”. When Michael Gove went on and on about “informal negotiations” … why? why not the formal ones straight away? … he also meant not triggering the formal departure. They both know what a formal demarche would mean: an irreversible step that neither of them is prepared to take.

    All that remains is for someone to have the guts to stand up and say that Brexit is unachievable in reality without an enormous amount of pain and destruction, that cannot be borne. And David Cameron has put the onus of making that statement on the heads of the people who led the Brexit campaign.

  • 2
    2

    Well, this is a good lesson to UK, to never go dabbling in other people’s political and financial solutions in future.

  • 3
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    The author has no understanding of the situation in the UK.

    He’s not alone – all the so called “Experts” have been wrong.

    The EU is a corrupt, undemocratic and authoritarian organisation that needs to be scrapped.

    BREXIT is the first step in this process – the EU is finished imho.

    BREXIT is the victory of Democracy over tyranny – more and more people are starting to understand this. The EU is facing up to 34 Referendums on various issues. The EU has not won a single referendum as far as I’ve been able to determine.

    Watch how the UK Economy will flourish in the coming years without being encumbered by ridiculous EU regulations.

    As a bonus the UK loses a bunch of useless Politicians!

    More countries will vote out in the near future.

    It’s all good as far as I’m concerned!

  • 2
    0

    This Yahapalana Professor recommended the same solution to the inhabitants of Srilanka which is to go Federal.

    Yahapalana PM hasn’t even put the pen to paper to write that Federal Thing, and the gun UNP Deputy Minister attempts to commit suicide on behalf of the Yahapalana kids, whom he can’t put in to his preferred school.

    And the Yahapalana PM himself tell the Yahapalana President that he will abdicate if he cant can’t give the CB gig to his mate and clan member Ratwattae to hold fort, until his other buddy from Singapore gets all clear from COPE.

    Brexit at least lowered the Pound and the Poms can now sell their cheeses including Oxford Blue to the French.

    And the Germans may even start building their luxury cars in the once great Britain.

    Will Conservative Cameron listen to the Professor to go Federal,while watching the dwindling support his mate Batalanada Ranil is copping even from the Yahapalana suckers alone.

    • 1
      0

      You do not seem to understand due to your poor intelligence. What UK did was voted for independence from EU to manage itself on its own. In other words from a federal state of Europe to an independant state. Do not worry about the pound, it will bounce back to its former position soon, now that FTSE has done so within five working days.

      • 2
        0

        Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam

        Here is an interesting comment published in The Guardian:

        Everyone seems to assume that the UK will invoke article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon and a Scottish referendum will follow. But there is an alternative scenario. It is based on a pronouncement in the run-up to the 2014 Scottish referendum by the EC President José Manuel Barroso that a territory seceding from a member would be outside the EU, but the member would continue as before within it. This scenario calls for England and Wales to secede from the UK, and leave the EU without invoking article 50. The diminished UK (Scotland plus Northern Ireland) would be a member of the EU on the same terms as before, so need not adopt the Euro or join the Schengen area.

        This should not arouse the hostility of governments worried about separatists, such as Belgium or Spain, since the seceding territory would not be seeking admission to the EU. The Irish border problem would vanish as both sides would be in the EU. Gibraltar’s status would be unchanged. The recent referendum would be respected, with the English and Welsh outside the EU and the Scots and Northern Irish inside. The only losers would be the English and Welsh, unceremoniously ejected from the EU without negotiation. This scenario will never play out, for the English and Welsh could never be persuaded to vote for something that was manifestly against their self-interest. Or could they?

        Jim Ford
        Newcastle upon Tyne

        theguardian.com

        Thursday 30 June 2016

        • 1
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          Native Veddha,
          Before the referrandum, bookies, pundits, pollsters all predicted a win for BREXIN. What happened is exactly the opposite. Britain should face the issue boldly and invoke atricle 50. All these threats by Europhilics are just bunkum. Please remember that just like Britain losing some business with EU countries, they will lose more businesses with Britain. As I had said before Britain is the gateway to Europe and not the other way about. I will take a bet with anyone that Britain will do better than being in EU, especially giving better services to ordinary British citizens. Japanese have stated clearly that they prefer to have investments in UK than in any country in Europe. After all majority of older generation Srilankans voted for BREXIT and they cannot be wrong.

          • 0
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            Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam

            “Japanese have stated clearly that they prefer to have investments in UK than in any country in Europe. “

            Here is a wbesite which gives detailed statistics and information:

            Japan to Europe M&A register

            http://eu-japan.com/investment/
            japan-to-europe/

            Please do spend some time and see the pattern of Japanese investments in Europe. Unlike the Tamils who heavily invested in one man Japanese not that stupid to put all their egss in one basket.

            A close friend of mine who has been living in the UK for the past 40 years tells me a grim story.

            He tells me:

            Hate crime over weekend seems to have gone up by 57% and according to even Cameron has commented on the serious matter in the parliament.

            Economies to prosper, countries need larger market and young hard working population.

            Universities fear reduction in research grants from EU countries.

            He fears restriction on free trade and movement of people could trigger third European Tribal war.

            He also fears when he hits 80 there would be no care home left for him to live and die, for not enough people to work in those old people homes, and he thinks the state might force him to sweep streets for the lack of labour.

            Only today Europe remembered one day during the 1st word war. It should ring alarm bells.

            In an increasingly globalised world no single country would brave going it alone.

            Environment can only be managed by collective actions.

            As far as he is concerned the Brexit was won not by arguments but by lies.

            He believes Osborne is the one to blame, under him services have been drastically reduced, and people have been alienated by the state because the link between people and the government has broken long time ago. Rulers do not know the plight of the people. People were looking for some one to blame, Brexit came handy.

            Now he thinks he will be stopped at every border when travelling in Europe.

            Most Human rights, labour, Disability and health and safety laws originated in EU countries.

            Asylum seekers were protected under Human Rights law of Europe.

            …………..

            To the contrary to popular believe among Brexiteers, business might find it difficult to manage, including administration of VAT.

            He has 1001 reason as to why UK should remain part of EU. However I cannot remember all of them.

          • 0
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            Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam

            “Before the referrandum, bookies, pundits, pollsters all predicted a win for BREXIN.”

            Pollsters and pundit never get anything right.

            “As I had said before Britain is the gateway to Europe and not the other way about.”

            How would UK alone deal with butter mountain, wine lakes, milk river, ….. if it abandons Common agricultural policy and assures its people food security?

            The important question one has to ask oneself is “Why was the EU created?”

            What has been EU’s contribution to its people and rest of the world?

            My friend the old codger tells me that twenty years ago there had been employers who refused to pay holiday pay because it was not a legal right of the Employees. It was under EU directive holiday pay was made compulsory, and applies to part time workers and temps as well.

            In Northern Ireland IRA and Sinn Fein sat around the table and was prepared to surrender arms and stop mayhem, simply because they could rely on EU for justice, social justice, development funds, market, investments, open borders with Southern Ireland ….. etc.
            According to my friend the arrangement has increased stability and peace.

            My friend always quote this ancient Tamil Poem:

            Purananuru

            யாதும் ஊரே யாவரும் கேளிர்
            தீதும் நன்றும் பிறர்தர வாரா
            நோதலும் தணிதலும் அவற்றோ ரன்ன
            சாதலும் புதுவது அன்றே, வாழ்தல்
            இனிதென மகிழ்ந்தன்றும் இலமே முனிவின்
            இன்னா தென்றலும் இலமே, மின்னொடு
            வானம் தண்துளி தலைஇ யானாது
            கல் பொருது மிரங்கு மல்லல் பேரியாற்று
            நீர்வழிப் படூஉம் புணைபோல் ஆருயிர்
            முறை வழிப் படூஉம் என்பது திறவோர்
            காட்சியில் தெளிந்தனம் ஆகலின், மாட்சியின்
            பெரியோரை வியத்தலும் இலமே,
            சிறியோரை இகழ்தல் அதனினும் இலமே. (புறம்: 192)

            To us all towns are one, all men our kin,
            Life’s good comes not from others’ gifts, nor ill,
            Man’s pains and pain’s relief are from within,
            Death’s no new thing, nor do our bosoms thrill
            When joyous life seems like a luscious draught.
            When grieved, we patient suffer; for, we deem
            This much-praised life of ours a fragile raft
            Borne down the waters of some mountain stream
            That o’er huge boulders roaring seeks the plain
            Tho’ storms with lightning’s flash from darkened skies.
            Descend, the raft goes on as fates ordain.
            Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !
            We marvel not at the greatness of the great;
            Still less despise we men of low estate.

            Kaniyan Poongundran,
            Purananuru – 192
            (Translated by G.U.Pope, 1906)

            My friend thinks the Tamils have abandoned their ancient wisdom and culture for parochial reasons, forgetting the world is increasingly becoming interconnected, interdependent, ……. and have joined the elbowing “me society”, and have bought the idea of possessive individualism.

            The borders of this world became reality only in the last few centuries. Borders cannot protect people from natural disasters, man made environmental catastrophe, diseases, piracy, smuggling, gun running, ….. EU is such an institution for dealing with global problems which needs global solutions. Collective actions needed to deal with bigger problems, single country alone cannot deal with it.

            People need to learn to live together, cannot thrive on isolation as stupid VP proved over 30 years.

            So like the Sinhala/Buddhist you too have decided to live in a British Ghetto?

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          The UK home secretary emphasized that invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on leaving the European Union should not happen before the end of 2016.
          B)’cuckoo nest plot’ by journalist couple.

          “There should be no general election until 2020. There should be a normal autumn statement held in the normal way, at the normal time and no emergency budget. And there should be no decision to invoke Article 50 until the British negotiating strategy is agreed and clear. Which means the Article 50 should not be invoked before the end of this year,” May said.

          After American Presidential Elections- Trump firm Brexit and Scottish investor.

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    A good part of Brexit was the battle for the PM-ship. David Cameron wanted to keep it and Boris Johnson wanted the job – David did not want Boris. Unexpectedly Brexit won. David lost his job but due to a strange turn of events Boris does not want the job anymore. So both won but the country is the loser.

    There is a parallel here. SWRD wanted to be PM in 1956. He campaigned “Sinhala Only in 24 hours”. SWRD won but the country has been on the back foot ever since.

    Will Britain disintegrate? Certainly not. Will EU disintegrate? No way. Individual countries will learn from the immediate plight of Britain and her future difficulties.

    Singapore learned from Lankan experience. At one stage the majority Chinese speaking Singaporeans demanded “Chinese Only” from the founder Lee Kuan Yew. His response was prompt “Do you want to go the Ceylonese path?”

    By the way Scotland was an independent country but about 450 years back merged with what is now Britain. Scotland now wants devolution of power.

    Lankan parallel: In 1505 Portuguese colonisers arrived in the island now called Sri Lanka. They found a Tamil Kingdom and two Sinhalese Kingdoms. The third coloniser Britain merged the kingdoms for administrative purposes.

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    Why don’t we send the Rajapaksa family over to save the UK? They are such amazing heroes (not). hahahaha……..what a bloody joke.

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    Dr Laksiri Fernando,

    In 1975, it was a different question! Whether to admit UK to ECM or not.

    Two issues stood in the way. Whether UK is a European Country or not and being an island away from the European mainland made matters worse.

    As head of the commonwealth, the loyalty of UK to Europe was in doubt and the close relationship UK had with USA exacerbated the situation especially when General de Gaulle had an uneasy relationship with USA and vehemently opposed to ECM membership to UK.

    UK also retained their “Pound Sterling” as their currency when majority of European countries opted to have “Euro” leaving their own currencies.
    Time resolved most of these issues almost amicably.

    But various issues crop up periodically when more and more countries joined EU, but, being mature democracies, it was felt that they will continue to be flexible and go from strength to strength.

    Alas! It was not to be!

    Now the issues are different and time would hsve solved all problems as before. But David Cameron did a blunder, promising referendum to the electorate during the General Election and keeping the promise to the letter.

    Elections and Referendum are not the true indicators.

    People vote on the spur of the moment. The limitations of democracy should be apparent to any discerning observers.

    Long standing issues should not be decided through elections and referendums.

    This is a lesson to all democrats

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    As someone who worked for years in UK I’m glad that UK is out of EU and it will certainly benefit Asians and Africans in future

    EU talks of open borders,but thats only for EU nationals whereas non EU nationals are treated like dirt when applying for visa to go to UK,if you talk of open borders then it should apply to all

    EU nationals come to UK and live on benefits and many resort to crime esp East Europeans who are into theft,card fraud,pimping and drugs

    EU nationals can just come and work in UK and live on welfare but highly skilled Asian or African immigrants are asked to get jobs with extremly high salaries which even native english cannot get if they want to remain and work in UK after their finish their studies,non of it applied to EU nationals

    UK was sending £ 350 million a week to EU HQ in Brussels but cutting down on policing and health care saying they cannot afford

    Like it or not face the fact that UK is the gateway to Europe and will flourish after the initial shock of leaving EU

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    Practical application is far more superior to Academic theories and speculations. This is what a theoretician’s view on life after Brexit. Your theory has no foundation to begin with. Brexit was a decision based on the realities that British had to face day to day. Fear mongering theories always promote of minority of Extremists. Please stay away from similar advice especially to the Sovereign UNITARY states such as Sri Lanka.

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    It occurs to me that England has fought wars sometime in the past against Holland, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Russia, and who else? That is apart from the ‘War of Independence’ against the United States. England fought against India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Malaya, Africa etc etc. during the Colonial era. Since the formation of the E.U and England being a member, we have not seen wars in Europe. I am holding my breath and praying that things will normalize.

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    The former British Defence Secretary Liam Fox has thrown his hat into the ring for British PM-ship. There is an interesting Sri Lankan connection.

    He is generally prefixed as “the disgraced former defence secretary” and Sri Lanka had much to do with it. He resigned from the coalition government in 2011 when details emerged about a lobbyist and friend, Adam Werrity, who travelled with him on official business In March 2010, Fox admitted breaking parliamentary rules on two occasions by visiting Sri Lanka on a trip paid for by the Sri Lankan government without declaring the trip in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests in the required time of 30 days and failing to declare an interest in Sri Lanka when asking ministers how much UK aid had been given to Sri Lanka. In fact, Fox has declared all of his trips to Sri Lanka paid for by the Sri Lankan government in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests] However, one trip he took in November 2007 was declared two months late.
    Of the five trips to Sri Lanka mentioned in the BBC article three were paid for fully by the Sri Lankan government. Those not paid in full by the Sri Lankan government were paid for by the Sri Lankan Development Trust
    Despite his trips being paid for by the Sri Lankan government and close links to Mahinda Rajapakse, Fox claimed he had been working for ‘all sides of the ethnic divide’

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    I think this catholic fellow is blind and dull of haring. that is why he can not hear insult Muslims make five times a day over the loudspeakers at other religions saying there is no god but Allah. he can not read koran sura 8;55 that says all others are wild beast except believers. as such Muslims can not expect red carpet welcome from wild beast when they encroach their territories. our monks are responsible for security of our Buddhist heritages and preservation of Buddhism for future generations.if governments not doing their jobs like in kuragala and pothuvil muhudu maha vihara, it is up to our monks to secure them. no matter even if they resort to martial art like angam or karate or kunfun. they have to perform their duty in addition to their personal goal like attaining nirwana. for that duty Buddhists provide them with all the necessities on free of charge. as such monks are doing their duties.it is better if catholic like this writer can mind their own business without interfering to others fairs.they tried to convert Buddhists to their faith in various ways in the past. during colonial era catholics discriminated Buddhists. in some areas Buddhist monks was not even able to walk on the roads Christians and catholic hit them with rocks. now talk like saints. try to discipline them.monks were discipline lots catholics do not have to teach them on discipline.if Muslims are encroaching our sacred places with the blessing of politicians, we have no option but to resort to our martial arts.

    building mosques every where can not make religious coexistence. others religious places except Hindus should be located at least one km from our religious places. that is the only solution. otherwise this quarrels will be there forever.

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