Every so often, as a British person, I get asked how Brexit is working out.
An emotionally honest response would just involve baffled, terrified screaming for the next several minutes, but British reserve dictates that I simply shift uncomfortably and say “Not very well.”
The normal state of Brexit is that nobody understands what is going on, the negotiations are deadlocked because the European Union has moved on with its life whilst Britain, the petulant ex-partner, isn’t even sure what it wants in the first place. Meanwhile, the deadline is rushing headlong towards us and it’s looking more and more like no agreements will be reached in time on trade, borders etc.
To give some idea of the general level of confidence infusing the nation, the government has begun to stockpile food and medicine in preparation for the March 2019 deadline. Yes, really.
So far, so confusing and unknowable – we probably won’t know how far the drop is until we’re over the edge of the cliff – but this week a few interesting pieces of news surfaced.
The first concerns Nigel Farage. Farage has long been considered the face of Brexit, because like Brexit, his face is a racist disaster popular with assholes.
Farage is also a former investment banker (with a German wife and a pension from his time in the European parliament which he refuses to give up, but I digress.) Rumours have begun to swirl that Farage knew the outcome of the Brexit referendum two hours in advance. In spite of knowing that his side had won, he allegedly coninued to tell people that “Remain” had been the successful vote.
It is speculated that Farage used these two hours to short the pound.
For those unfamiliar, “shorting” is a financial process where one gambles on the market. Imagine that I have a hundred pounds, currently worth about a hundred and sixty dollars.
I enter into an agreement with you to trade my £100 for a hundred and fifty dollars, one week from now.
If the UK economy stays the same, you stand to get a hundred and sixty dollars worth of pounds for a discount, which you can then sell for its full price and make a profit. BUT, if the UK economy does badly, and the price of the pound falls below the hundred and fifty dollars you’ve agreed to pay, you pay over the odds for the pound and I make money.
This is where knowing something like the outcome of the Brexit vote is crucial. When it was anounced that “Leave” had succeeded, the pound went into freefall. Interesting, then, that ex-investment-banker Nigel Farage kept insisting that “Remain” had won until the last possible moment, driving the price of the pound as high as he could before it cratered the next day.
It would probably be libellous to say that Nigel Farage is nothing but a crooked financier using his personal racism to play a long con and make a fortune at the expense of the British nation as a whole, so I definitely haven’t said that anywhere in this article.
Elsewhere, it has emerged that the “Leave” campaign were up to some pretty shady stuff as a whole.
Consider that a number of people seemed to think that a vote against Europe was a vote against Muslims. “Stick it to the Imam,” if you will. This seems stupid and racist until you learn, as we all did recently, what the Leave campaign’s targetted ads on Facebook were telling people.
The above image (and several other Facebook ads) fraudulently told swing voters that Turkey was about to join the EU. They aren’t – they never were. Turkey’s president Erdogan is far too much of an authoritarian to ever relinquish even a sliver of power to outsiders. Still, the Leave ads scared many old, stupid or Islamophobic voters into thinking that the EU was about to join hands with ISIS and skip on down to the Mosque for a burkha fitting.
An even lower blow was oncovered when it was revealed that, following the murder of pro-Remain politician Jo Cox, both campaigns suspended their advertising as a mark of respect to avoid politicising a murder. Except that “Leave” didn’t. We now know that the Leave campaign continued running the duplicitous Facebook ads, effectively taking advantage of a political cease fired to launch further attacks.
These ads, understand, were algorithmically targeted at specific people; those likely to vote “remain” never saw them. Next time you hear about the social media bubble, or wonder how anyone can possibly hold a particularly dumb viewpoint, remember that that bubble does not occur organically but is paid for by shady corporations, and that that person may be unduly credulous and specifically targeted by ads which incite them to believe something crazy.
All of this, of course, ignores that the Leave campaign has already been found guilty of breaching laws on electoral advertising spending. To recap, the Leave campaign, fronted by an ex-investment banker running a two bit con to asset strip a country he pretends to love, grossly and illegally over-spent on advertising, a lot of which personally targeted the confused and gullible and some of which ran during a political moment’s silence for a murdered wife and mother, in order to narrowly swing a 2% victory for backwards xenophobia, and now the UK is about to become a backwater with no trade prospects and possibly no access to food or medication.
So yeah. Since you asked, THAT’S how Brexit is going.
Maybe I’ll just go back to screaming…