The EU: Hell hath no fury

In the midst of negotiations to implement Brexit, E.U. president Donald Tusk sneered that there was "a special place in hell" for those who pushed Brexit "without a plan," a comment seemingly designed to foil an agreement.

The Brexiteers have responded in kind.  Nigel Farage tweeted that after Brexit, "we will be free of unelected bureaucrats like you and run our own country."  He added, "Sounds more like heaven to me."

Jacob Rees-Mogg, Conservative M.P., said Tusk's comment "shows exactly why the British people rejected the EU in the first place."

"Britain is implementing the will of the people," wrote Rees-Mogg.  "That is democracy, but Mr. Tusk represents bureaucracy, so is incapable of understanding the popular mood."

Or perhaps he understands the popular mood too well.  Back in October, a Washington Post financial writer wrote that "[t]he fear that Brexit could encourage more countries to leave gives the E.U. a powerful incentive to make Britain's exit as unattractive as possible."  Viewed from this standpoint, the E.U.'s vindictiveness toward Britain serves as a message to any other member-nation that contemplates withdrawing.

In The Virtue of Nationalism, perhaps the most significant book published in 2018, Yoram Hazony wrote (my emphases):

The calumnies and denunciation heaped upon the English public and its elected leadership in the wake of Britain's determination to seek independence from the European Union are an unmistakable warning to the West as a whole.  From the point of view of the liberal construction, the unification of Europe is not one legitimate political option among others.  It is the only legitimate opinion to which a decent person can subscribe.  The moral legitimacy of Britain's vote for independence was thus the unrelenting theme of political and media figures decrying the vote: It was alleged that only the aged supported exiting the European Union, thereby disenfranchising the young; or that only the uneducated had supported it, thereby diluting the say of those who really do know better; or that voters had meant only to cast a protest vote and not actually leave Europe; and so forth.  These angry pronouncements were then followed by the demand that the British public's preference be repealed — by a second referendum, or by act of Parliament, or by closed-door bargaining with the Europeans.  Anything, so long as the one legitimate opinion should prevail.

The election of Trump and the passage of Brexit have triggered similar responses from the global elites from both sides of the Atlantic: a challenge to the legitimacy of the vote and an attempt to subvert the results.

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