I have reluctantly decided that there will be no more posts on Coppola Comment until after the referendum.

Since I have declared my support for Remain, anything I write about the UK and the EU is now inevitably seen as biased, and anything I write about any other subject is - equally inevitably - seen as avoiding the issue. I cannot, for example, write a balanced analysis of the likely effects on financial services of a vote in either direction, though that is my specialism. Nor can I cross-post the sensible, well researched article on immigration that I was sent earlier today. It is a measure of how toxic this campaign has become that stating my personal views has effectively silenced me.

This is the most unpleasant political campaign I have ever seen in the UK.  Both sides have behaved appallingly. Both have blatantly lied and misused statistics. Both have tried to frighten people into voting for them - the Remain side with scare stories about economic meltdown, the Leave side with warnings about floods of migrants and cultural Armageddon. The real issue, which is whether or not membership of the EU is best for the UK, has been totally buried underneath a stinking pile of disinformation and scaremongering.

I am ashamed of the narrow-minded xenophobia displayed by sections of the Leave campaign, and horrified by the echoes of past extremism in some of its publicity. Where are the British values of fair play, tolerance and open-mindedness? Whatever happened to our historic commitment to welcoming those facing persecution and violence in their own countries?

But even though I support Remain, I am also ashamed of the tactics adopted by some Remain campaigners. Not all Leave supporters are xenophobes by any means, but that is how they have been portrayed. Reasoned debate has given way to mudslinging, and fair play is absent.

Both sides sought to profit from the death of Jo Cox. Remain used her murder to emphasise the involvement of far-right elements in the Leave campaign. And Leave conducted a sustained campaign in the media alleging that Remain was exploiting grief and shock at her death to swing the vote their way. The untimely passing of an honest campaigner and politician sparked underhand and sleazy campaigning tactics by both sides. It was a truly disgusting spectacle, and dishonouring to the memory of a great woman.

This campaign has rolled back stones that perhaps should have been let lie: what has crawled out from underneath them is something I neither wished nor expected to see again. I thought the insular, unfriendly "little England" mentality that I remember from my youth had long since died. The Britain I know and love is a vibrant, cosmopolitan place that leads the world not only in law and finance, but in performing and creative arts - the subjects that above all hold my heart. It is a wonderful mix of people from many nations, cultures and faiths. It is this diversity that makes us great. Yet it is this very diversity that is threatened. If "putting the Great back in Britain" means resurrecting "little England", then I want no part in it.

So I draw the blinds, and turn out the lights, and enter the silence. I will see you on the other side, wherever that may be.

Image from Claire Droppert Photography.


  1. It is a sad state of affairs and Cameron deserves shooting for calling this referendum on the basis of nothing but internal Tory party politics. Any leave campaign should have been led, as a matter of principle, by a major party via a general election.

    A referendum logically divides opinion and its' result accepted by neither losing side. The advertarial nature of UK politics does not lend itself to referenda.

    Hope to see you back soon Frances. bill40

  2. You are correct, the information given to the public from both sides has been quite frankly patronising. From the economic armageddon of the Remain to the conflation of refugees with open border economic migration by some Leave supporters (poster etc).

    I believe everyone should have been sent this 116 page report: and read it carefully as it sets out in measured and seemingly unbiased tones most of the economic and sovereignty options/outcomes in the event of Brexit in detail. And this was written in 2015; in other words given better publicity of this and similar material there would no excuses for people to be ill informed and fewer places for people peddling dodgy facts and statistics to hide.

    The good thing about reading this particular study personally is that it made me feel better about voting either way as once the options are known and understood the risks of voting leave could be quantified (a bit) better.

    Look forward to your thoughtful/provocative posts post-Remain/Brexit.


  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. in Ohio, i'm not even remotely involved in your divisive issue, but i see it's effects daily...the title of my latest fracking blog post began with "Oil Rallies on Murder of British MP"..

    1. That is a symptom of the poor excuse we have for journalists today.

      Here is the standard hack formula.

      1. Take some event, in this case, "oil rallies", and then find some other event, "Murder of British MP, make a headline out of the two as click bait.

      2. Try and find some superficial reason why the two may be related.

      Rinse and repeat daily.


    2. Anonymous Bob, i'll admit my headline for the story had an element of click bait to it, but the story behind it is valid...if you've been following the global markets at all over the past week, every new poll on Brexit has precipitated a major move in the worldwide, including in London, were crashing last Thursday up until the Cox murder, and turned around on a dime when traders realized that her murder would lessen the popularity of the separatist movement (a writer at the Wall Street Journal even penned an op-ed defending the stock market's celebration of Ms Cox's death)

      i wrote about it as a symptom of sickness, my click bait headline not withstanding...

  5. Anonymous, your comment has been removed because it did not conform to the comments policy of this blog.

  6. Excellent essay. The United Kingdom and the European Union will take some time to find a path after this referendum.

  7. I absolutely agree.

    The British public are being shown the disdain that the politicians hold them in. It has always been the case, but now it is right out in the open. I have never seen such open threats issued by any government to force through a vote.

    I am concerned about the aftermath.

    If "Leave", then will the government indeed move to inflict retribution on the UK citizens as they have threatened, or will they work hard to ensure the exit goes as smoothly as possible?

    If "Remain", then I am certain we will be subject to a few excruciatingly patronizing speeches, which will send me running to the bathroom. Will they apply themselves to addressing the substantial percentage of the UK population is not happy with being in Europe. Or will they ride roughshod over them with the perceived bigger mandate?

    The politicians no longer have my trust and respect. I fear that the voting public will slump further into hopelessness and despair, "what can you do? What can you do?"


  8. "Where are the British values of fair play, tolerance and open-mindedness?"

    As displayed in the 'comments' re J. Corbyn?

  9. One argument for Brexit is that our exports to the EU (as a % of our total exports) have been steadily falling for ten years, while our exports to the rest of the world have been steadily rising. To be exact, in 2000 45% of our exports went to the rest of the world, and 55% to the EU. That position is now reversed. My source is the last chart here:

    However, I shall probably spoil my ballot paper with the words, “Sorry, I haven’t an effing clue”.

    1. I have seen this quoted a lot, but even if true, this is not a valid reason to vote Leave. Just because our trade with the EU is steadily falling as a percentage of total trade, it does not follow that we should wilfully damage what trade still remains - 45% is a big number. Whilst I think the EU is flawed and there are risks to remaining a part of it, the downsides to leaving are potentially severe.

  10. Frances,
    Your words and your views do you credit. Like you I have been truly appalled by the way the campaign has been conducted and feel ashamed to count myself British. The good news, I think, is that the disgust we feel is widely shared and although we have seen little of the British values of fair play, tolerance and open-mindedness in this squalid little campaign, they have not disappeared from my population as a whole. My hope and belief is that they will re-emerge in a more honest and grown-up political culture although I find it difficult to believe that there will be room in this for many of the current crop of Westminster playground bullies. They will not be missed

  11. Not living in the UK, I haven't had to put up with the campaign, but I can imagine. The reason governments should worry about immigration is like the reason they should worry about justice. If they don't, folk will improvise. Human groups are not unconditionally open.

    With liberalism, we've been (knowingly, cynically) increasing the dose of a medicine that long ago became toxic. Media and politics have hardened into a hermetic conspiracy devoted to the medicine, and the medicine dictates no borders. Life having got more precarious and brutal for a large number of people, the mood is ugly and xenophobic. The scapegoating is unfair and misplaced, but not baseless.

    What role for reasonableness at this time? I'm reasonable, but forced to choose, I'm a democrat first, reasonable second. There's a vestige of something magnificent in these referendums. A people taking a destiny in it's hands, vote one day, leave the next. This against an unaccountable machine, a vast construction dedicated to accountability avoidance. Continental politicians, national and European, will fight tooth and nail to stop you having this choice. You'll wait a long time for a second chance. Leave !

    1. Leave arguments are on an abstract level. Remain arguments are on a practical level.

  12. Hi Frances! I saw your comments on Sumner's site, and I had a couple of questions for you in return. I'll just leave you a link:

    Thanks. And sorry about how the vote turned out. I was hoping Remain would win.

    1. There's a video there (at the link) from a guy saying Brexit will amount to a lot of expensive and unnecessary chaos for not much benefit (if any at all; in trading one set of imperfect trade rules for another set of imperfect trade rules). Do you agree?

      Even if Brexit doesn't actually happen (since as you point out it was a non-binding vote), it sounds like the chaos part has already started, and it'll be tough to put that genie back in the bottle.

  13. Frances, can you direct me to the best figures for the following:
    How much money actually flows from the UK to the EU? Take into account farm subsidies, science grants, and everything. Also, what's your take on this video:

    What do you think the odds are that Article 50 will actually be invoked? (part of the subject of that video)


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