The assassination of Jo Cox, the Labour Party MP who actively and candidly campaigned for Britain to remain in the European Union, can change the balance between the ‘remain’ and the ‘leave’ vote in Thursday’s referendum. Analysts are sensing that the murder of a solid and amiable advocate of ‘remain’ may reverse the surprising strengthening of the ‘leave’ side during the past two weeks, in a confrontation that has gone rampant in many respects.
Sadly enough, it took a life to change that, obliging those who have pushed the confrontation beyond limits to calm down. We will see here below who has crossed the line. In any case, the assassination of Cox has repercussions also on financial markets, strengthening the Sterling and pushing up the prices of bonds. Market analysts arrived to the conclusion that the murder of Cox can raise the chances for the ‘remain’ vote to win the referendum of 23 June. Let’s start from the beginning.
How the ‘leave’ got the lead
Until last Thursday afternoon, when Cox was slain, the ‘leave’ campaign had a lead in polls. This development was the outcome of an operation organized by the ‘leave’ supporters, who had managed to make ‘chauvinism’ their prime banner, having pushed the economy in second place. Obviously, the ‘leave’ has disadvantages in the economic side. Undoubtedly, the economic uncertainty which would certainly follow a possible ‘leave’ outcome, gives the ‘remain’ campaign a very strong point.
The idea that Brexit advocates ‘sold’ then was that Britain shouldn’t participate in a club, where Germany sets the rules, hiding the fact that Britain can veto every single EU decision. It is thus by making ‘patriotism’ the main issue, the leave supporters managed to gain the lead.
It took a life to stop Brexit
It took a life of a prominent member of the ‘remain’ campaign to reverse Brexit’s lead. The murderer is a mentally unstable chauvinist, who shouted “Britain first” when slaying Cox. It’s a queer revelation to find out, that when scratching the skin of an ultra-patriot usually appears a crook or a mentally disturbed person. The assassin is described as a peaceful person without strong convictions, clearly making his kind of ‘patriotism’ a matter of psychotherapy.
The problem is, however, that the Brexit campaign, with its jingoistic banner for a ‘Free Britain’ energized the sick part in the psyche of the murderer. There is more to it though. The Brexit campaign focused on casting doubt on the patriotism of the ‘remain’ side, using the argument of the ‘German Europe’. As if Britain hasn’t gained over the past decades a very special position in the EU or has lost its power to veto all and every legislative item.
Is Britain a free country?
This quite untrue argument however, captivated the simple mind of Thomas Mair. His extreme right, the rather fascist ideology and his brutal thoughts against the representatives of the ‘remain’ side were greatly supported by ‘authoritative’ people, like the leadership of the Brexit campaign. In reality, their decision to turn the confrontation into a patriotism contest actually armed the hand of the murderer.
The deep conviction of the murderer that he committed a patriotic act by murdering a supporter of the ‘remain’ side was confirmed in court, where he said his name was: “death to traitors, freedom to Britain”. In some respect he was right, because a part of the British establishment “told” him that Britain is not a free country, by being part of ‘German Europe’. In short, the murderer of Jo Cox believed what the ‘leave’ leaders propagated about, that Britain is not a free country. It would be a logical conclusion then that the leave leaders should be charged as abettors to murder.
It appears that the atrocious act of the murderer is not a completely personal affair. His decision, from a political point of view, and even as a psychotic episode, was nurtured by a part of the British establishment, which is the most extreme right and jingoistic group of the conservatives, Nigel Farage’s UKIP included of course.
When Europe was divided
In many respects, the same thing was happening during both world wars. Those who pushed their countries to commence the WWI and WWII carnages belonged to the more jingoistic and aggressive part of the political establishment. Those groups tend to favour divisions in Europe, so that they can maintain their especial position within national borders.
Regrettably, this is the way history is written, when a mishap can change the balance at the limit, between two equally possible outcomes. It’s not the first time though this is happening in Europe, when nationalism blackens logic. The catastrophic two world wars of the last century were in some respects, an outcome of a deplorable ‘patriotic duty’ mind-set. Consenting that Europe cannot be united clearly means division and confrontation.
Christopher Clark, professor of Modern History at Cambridge, in his famous book ‘The Sleepwalkers”, about “How Europe went to war in 1914”, implies by this title that this devastating conflict, which led to a global catastrophe, the WWI, could have been avoided.
The carnage that followed the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary can be considered as an accident on a political platform which could have led either way. Unfortunately, in 1914 it was the nationalistic side that prevailed. It would have been the same in today’s Britain, if it wasn’t for Jo Cox to pay with her life the possible reverse from ‘leave’ to ‘remain’.
The adult Brits to decide
It’s up to the adult Brits then to make the final decision on the crucial matter of dividing or keeping Europe united. In 1914 it was a handful of men in power, who drove the world to the most atrocious confrontation, which lasted for twenty years. WWII in many respects was the continuation of WWI.
If the result of the 23 June vote is a cataclysmic ‘leave’, it will again be the entire Old Continent and the whole world to bear the consequences, of a decision taken by around half of the British adults. Again, the decision of the few will have irrevocable effects on many, because hundreds of millions of people in Europe and the rest of the globe would be affected rather badly, if Britain votes to leave the EU.