Brexit: Returning to our previous anticipations (SPECIAL FILE – GEAB, Aug 2016)


This summer, our team considers it its duty to bypass the rule of “summer rest” in order to return to the Brexit event of 23 June.

In the interests of intellectual honesty and mutual education, this special edition gives an overview of chapters and articles which have addressed issues related to the British referendum in  our previous GEAB bulletins.

Even if our team has not always made the theoretical assumption that the “Bremain” would win in its analysis of the practical consequences of the referendum, we must still accept and explain briefly the error in our anticipation.

With regard to the fundamental trends, we have seen that the EU was not particularly attractive for facilitating a Bremain. Cameron’s government was not really convincing in its contingency “bremainism”; the Tories, who had always used the EU to explain their own incompetence had been “consumed” by the same theses as in the UKIP’s case; the City had every reason not to shout out loud its “bremainism” while risking to promote the contrary; the potent disintegrating forces of the British social fabric (unemployment, deterioration of the welfare state, unmanaged immigration, dormant education system, nonexistent integration policies, leading to a 40 year state bankruptcy) … all those did not provide a favourable context for an informed vote. Moreover, the nations’ anger was one of the characteristics of this year (on which we have even headlined our June edition, by the way), the populism was gaining ground (see our January article on Brown Europe), Rupert Murdoch’s anti-European British press was not likely to properly educate the public opinion, and so on …

Suffice it to say that if we had connected those points properly, we would actually have anticipated a Brexit rather than a Bremain event.

Yet, if our team was focused on the Bremain, it was due to one of our basic predications: “No one leaves the EU…” (the European reality within a globalized world, in today’s Internet era, is a strong reference). We were wrong to conclude that “the British establishment would manage to get a yes to remain in the EU”.

In fact, we totally underestimated the highly strategic choice of a part of the British state machinery (formally embodied by Theresa May, to whom we actually dedicated an entire article in December 2013[1]) to support the Brexit: precisely because “no one leaves the EU”, an “impossible-to-implement-Brexit” has now allowed the UK to block the entire European decision-making system by defining the rules of the game, to which an increasing number of Member States would readily rally.

The British have just escaped the famous Europe of the great-grandsons of Hitler, Franco, Mussolini and Petain[2] against which we have warned since 1998, if the EU failed to democratize.

On the mainland side, we also underestimated the “Brexit temptation” effect, a more emotional than strategic one, this time. Even though the Europeans did not believe it could happen at all, they dreamed of a Brexit which would free them from the British troublemaker. The fact of not believing it has actually kept them from analyzing thoroughly the consequences of an “impossible Brexit” and has prohibited them from preparing any offensive strategy. We know what we are talking about, because we have also been victims of this emotional “temptation” effect, and we therefore lost the essential objectivity required by political anticipation.

Finally, nobody believed in the Brexit event, yet everyone wanted it. Therefore, it could not be avoided.

Political anticipation is a rather thankless subject because the reality is always connected to the theory. That is why it requires courage and perseverance. Despite occasional failures, the GEAB team will continue to take risks with its debated anticipations requiring rigorous argumentation. Just keep your eyes on our yearly work assessment…

Read the entire file :


[1] GEAB n°80: 2014-2020 – The UK, Europe, the world: heckled democracy (December 15, 2013).
[2] To read and re-read absolutely: How Europe in 2009 could end up in the hands of the post modern great-grandsons of Hitler, Franco, Mussolini and Petain, by Franck Biancheri, 1998; Source: Association des Amis de Franck Biancheri (AAFB).