Current Affairs Politics

Riots And Violence In Britain To Achieve Brexit

In recent weeks there has been a noticeable tonal shift in the rhetoric of the Brexit movement in the United Kingdom, stepping beyond deliberately ambiguous warnings about public unrest or disorder if the outcome of the 2016 referendum was not implemented to more explicit predictions of trouble should the country fail to leave the European Union in the coming months. It seems that the gloves are coming off in the battle for the political soul of the UK with the exit-supporting government of Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party associates leading the charge, pushing a subtle form of hate speech against those fellow countrymen and women still wedded to the idea of remaining citizens of the EU.

According to The Times newspaper in London a Cabinet member close to the Prime Minister has predicted that Britain would face a “violent, popular uprising” if a second Brexit plebiscite overturned the result of the first one.

 “In this country we never had the gilets jaunes or the LA riots.

People don’t think it’s possible in this country just because it has not happened before.

Now they have a model — gilets jaunes — and it only takes a couple of nasty populist frontmen to inspire people.

If we have a referendum with 30 million people who vote, and we vote to Remain by 66 per cent, that’s ten million people who are unhappy.

Even if 99 per cent of them shrug it off, that’s still 100,000 really angry people who will write to their MP and not let it go.

It doesn’t take much and soon you have tens of thousands of people on the street.”

This hyperbolic warning of impending unrest was clearly part of a coordinated effort from the heart of the British government in Downing Street, with the controversial Brexit tsar and Johnson aide Dominic Cummings commenting that:

“It is not surprising some people are angry about it. I find it very odd that these characters are complaining that people are unhappy about their behaviour now and they also say they want a referendum.

If you are a bunch of politicians and say that we swear we are going to respect the result of a democratic vote, and then after you lose you say, we don’t want to respect that vote, what do you expect to happen?”

To this litany of doom and gloom can be added the opinion of Brendan O’Neill, one of the leaders of the Brexit-supporting alt-libertarian network clustered around the British online magazine Spiked, who told the BBC’s afternoon Politics Live show that,

“I’m amazed that there hasn’t been riots yet.

I think there should be.”

Personally I wouldn’t discount the possibility of serious public disorder in a post-Europe Britain as the country falls into a period of sustained economic decline. What I hadn’t counted on was some of the more extreme yet still mainstream advocates of Brexit seeking to stir up public disorder in the first place in order to usher in that new post-Europe epoch.

See O’Neill’s calculated contribution to the Brexit debate at time stamp 23.00 below.

39 comments on “Riots And Violence In Britain To Achieve Brexit

  1. All the bitter fruits of Margaret Thatcher era coming to fruition. the gap between poor and wealthy has reached a breaking point and the EU was the convenient fig leaf to blame it all on. In one of the contingency reports published there, they mentioned the need for 3,500 soldiers to be used to assist the police. I suspect that there will be riots as the hard reality hits the deluded ones who think that the UK is still an Empire.and not a declining entity.

  2. Suppose the threat of “terrible and immediate war” will come next. Perfidious Albion at its best (worst).

  3. Wonder will they deploy all their other ‘soldier f’s’ for this mission.

  4. I would currently put the odds of a Second English Civil War in the event of a No Deal Brexit that goes badly (ei serious food shortages, NHS disaster), at about 1 in 3.

    That kind of rhetoric doesn’t surprise me, in the sense that that crew has a sort of devil-may-care attitude and much of the world seems infected with a sort of destructive Nihilism. It’s my sense that the high up Brexiteers May say these things without really understanding how destructive this nihilistic-glee can get.

    As for the claim that England has no history of riots or violence, what have they been smoking? If anything English suffragists, Fabians, and other groups have been way quicker to resort to riots or bombing than their equivalents in most countries.

    • I’m still very much inclined to discount the possibility of a “civil war” in the UK. The political, regional or ethnic synergies aren’t there for it.

      Civil unrest is another matter. A version of the violence around the poll tax or miners’ strikes of the Thatcher years, maybe. Perhaps haphazard right-wing terrorism. But that would be it.

      Like, the UK Armed Forces aren’t going to divide on the question of Brexit, there is no armed populace or militias, or continuity or tradition of armed struggle by political groupings. Where would the first shots come from?

      The protests in France are a better model for Brexit troubles. But even that is not a “civil war”.

      Though as I stated above, I’m slightly taken aback by those senior and very mainstream UK figures now hinting, sorry, “warning” of unrest to get their way. Once you give air to that view the very discussion gives it some form of legitimacy.

      • Grace has a point and I can see a path. I think you are perhaps underestimating the level of racial tensions that have long existed in Britain. Hanif Kureishi’s work speaks to this and is also good prose (decent TV adaptation), I have family in London that are half-South East Asian and through them been made aware of how it is and has been, even in the “better days” of the 90s.

        1. No deal Brexit.
        2. Consequences hit home.
        3. Brexiteers cannot accept Brexit can fail therefore it is the fault of some group of Remainers, 5th columnists or others betraying Brexit.
        4. Harassment, intimidation, causal affray, escalating violence, battery, deaths of these traitors.
        5. Eventually members of the targeted group retaliate.
        6. Now you have tit-for-tat escalation until you get the spark that lights the wider conflagration. Like a bombing.
        7. UK state over reacts.

        The UK state is primed to over react to a domestic terrorist incident, if it is the Muslim community being targeted and responding, you could see the police, military, justice making the same mistakes they did in Northern Ireland.

        The Troubles did not start overnight in August 1969. Nor in 1966. Nor was the path of the 70s set until Bloody Sunday. There were many, many opportunities to turn aside from the carnage of the 70s & 80s. Each in turn had to be ignored and rode roughshod over. I see that exact same iron will in the Brexiteers today, and you only need one side to want a conflict, to get a conflict.

        I thought a no deal Brexit was very unlikely, but now it’s down to a hail mary unity of all but DUP/Tories to even get an extension? If you flip the coin on civil war in the UK, don’t be surprised if it lands on its edge.

        • But the Troubles of 1966-2005 were part of a longer and well-established centuries’ old conflict. One could point to a similar situation in other civil or quasi-civil wars.

          Yes, there are exceptions. The Finnish civil war is a good example. But that was a consequence of WWI as were most other contemporary internecine conflicts in Europe. And the same with WWII.

          Where would the British troubles come from as a violent struggle between organised political blocs? The Tories will probably move further to the nationalist right, the political theatre will probably get very ugly in the UK, unrest and dissension will become more voluble and contentious. But armed actions on an appreciable scale? I don’t see it myself.

          • I think a Troubles or US civil war scenario is quite unlikely. However, these things can spiral out of control. The parallels to 1930s would suggest that the requirements you are looking for, might not be the relevant ones for the heady cocktail of economic depression and intoxicating nationalism in which we currently find ourselves. When the brutal realities of a no deal Brexit hit, the faithful will want scapegoats. What if those marginalized groups decide to fight back? Have their own Battle of the Bogside? What if the Paras are sent in?

            I think you are missing the depth of the problems of racism in the UK and that the levels of anger are similar to those of Nationalists in the north in 69.

            Unlikely? But not beyond the realms of possibility.

            • Perhaps. But the UK would need a Viktor Orban or worse for that scenario. And BoJo isn’t that. And the Faragists have little hope of getting into power. Unless the Tories are desperate enough to do an election deal with the BP and stand aside in certain constituencies. Now there is your nightmare scenario.

              • Perhaps is about as good as the odds are. Our own civil war could have been avoided, it was egos that pushed it over the precipice. There are often these Lagrange points in history where the “great men” are able to make outsized impacts on history with the tiny nudges they are limited to, Archimedes like.

                Almost everyone thought Trump was a joke with no chance. Similar was said of Hitler. I think Terry Pratchett is right on this one, when history creates a human shaped hole, eventually it will be filled by a human.

                The way things are going the north will be clamouring for a border poll within 6 months, and FF/FG are still refusing to engage.

          • England DID have a Civil War in the 17th century. Was that predicated on a centuries old conflict?

            it’s clear that Civil Wars can have contributing factors from ancient to contemporary. The Spanish Civil War had factors with a mix of “ages”. Not all are like Ireland’s or Yugoslavia’s.

            To me the situation looks really ominous. I’m not saying these things out of Schadenfreude or arguing that “the chickens are coming home to roost” for the Empire or anything like that.

            British society looks dangerously insane and it reminds me to a downright eerie degree of US politics of the 1840’s and 1850’s, in so many ways I’m not sure how to to seperating and listing. Veiled threats becoming more blatant is definitely one.

            I’m not one of O’Toole hysterics and was raised in a culture where the notion of “Civil War” is not something to be invoked lightly or used to describe any just any form of unrest.

            I’m just arguing that maybe Irish citizens should consider some possibilities most are not used to thinking about thanks to the last several centuries….might want to be prepared.

            • It’s true that there’s a combustible aspect to this, and of course the riots earlier in the decade point to a certain fragility societally. A sustained civil war seems less likely – I’d imagine say if the military were sent in that quelling an area would probably be possible if the number of areas aflame were low, if they were more widespread… well, then it’s anyone’s guess. But that would be closer to a class war. I’d tend to at this point agree with ASF that it’s not hugely likely as matters stand. Thing is we know that you can have significant class dissent – consider the Franco period, where a militaristic and totalitarian regime can keep a lid on things for decades. Spain for example in the modern period pre the end of the regime was far from quiescent but the regime was able to ‘manage’ dissent through military and policing means. So in a way it’s not so much civil war as the willingness of whatever authority emerges (or survives) such a context that is key. My own feeling is a hard right security regime would likely have the upper hand. Still, we’re aways from that.

              • BTW the implications for Ireland of that would be scarifying.

              • I feel like the metaphor of history being a group of the blindfolded describing an elephant with their hands applies here. I think the three of you are all making valid points. And it’s hard, if not impossible, to see clearly through the paradigm shift of Brexit.

                UK is in for a bumpy ride, even with a Withdrawal Agreement & overnight bank lending in the US is a bit of a warning sign of a recession coming. NI is going to want to pull that UI ripcord pretty soon after a no deal Brexit bites.

                We should run a pool of possible post-Brexitscapes: Children of Men, 84K (Claire North), Clockwork Orange, Market Forces…. Perhaps it will get so bad we can contemplate the King-under-the-Mountain legends too?

      • Yes it reminds me of certain Unionist politicians of the past with their almost mystic abilities to predict loyalist violence if things weren’t going to well for them.

      • Isn’t it axiomatic that nobody in any country thinks the armed forces aren’t going to divide……….until they actually do?

        In 1859 in the US it was considered inconceivable….channel “The Princess Bride”!!…..that officers who had served and gone to academy together and were close friends would end up shooting each other….let alone leading armies of Americans against each other……let alone….. well, you have a good grasp of US history. Did Michael Collins and Eamon De Valera ever imagine things between them would go the way they did? Was Yugoslavia not considered extremely stable in the late 1980’s

        I was thinking that the right combination of food shortage, severe unrest, and NHS implosion could cause certain factions of the armed forces to side with the people engaging in the unrest while others decide to defend the Brexit state..

        Now if major food shortages don’t occurs, the NHS manages to “keep rolling” despite challenges, and the unrest doesn’t get worse than The Thatcher era…….I agree it’s much less likely to go that far.

        However if you do have a more desperate Brexit….that can definitely create a situation where members of the armed forces can find themselves faced with dilemmas…..and considering decisions they would never have imagined, even months or weeks earlier. When they watch people the grow up with going hungry, kids not unlike their younger siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, children shot down “Bloody Sunday” style, and things they deeply value in their society (ei The NHS, multi-culturalism in some cities) crumbling around them.

        I also wouldn’t underestimate the ability of the crazy ideologies in circulation to both cause some British soldiers and civilians to extremes, while having others willing to do things they otherwise wouldn’t to fight for some semblance of the status quo.

        Indeed the way they sort of egg on violence DOES remind me of the escalating extremisms and veiled threats that gradually became more blatant in the US of the 1840’s and 1850’s.

        It wouldn’t be the same kind of Civil War as The US 1860’s but a situation like Spain in the 1930’svwhere The govt was fighting multiple ideological strains would be plausible-only Communism and Anarchism would likely be replaced by something more basic and less of a formed ideology.

        I don’t consider this inevitable or even the most probable scenario, but I submit that Ireland should consider how to respond if it happens. While I smell a whiff of bias of “Nothing THAT bad could happen to our historical oppressors.” That often turns out wrong…..but small nations have reason to worry when larger neighbors go down the tubes even if the historical relationship was much better than Ireland and The UK.

        • Yes but those nations had “traditions”, for the want of a better word, of insurrectionary or quasi-internecine armed violence. The modern Anglo-British tradition of violence is extranecine. Violence against the “other”.

          I’d be more pessimistic about a newly aggressive UK state pushing against it’s neighbours viz natural resources. Or pursuing economic and trading policies inimical to those of the EU.

          My caveat would be Ireland and Scotland, where things could get out control in extreme circumstances (especially the 6 Cos, obviously).

          Or some lunatic hookup between the Tories and the Brexit Party at it’s worse.

          I still believe that the UK will experience a period of sustained economic decline if it goes no-deal with associated civil unrest. But the UK Armed Forces are not going to divide along ideological lines or adhere to one party political faction over another.

          The nearest the UK came to that scenario was the 1960s-70s and most of the plotters and establishment discontents couldn’t make the psychological jump to actually doing it.

          • If they experience a period of sustained economic decline, I’m not sure how they can command the resources to fight a war with either an EU nation, or a country farther away.

            A rag-tag dirty internal conflict is far more within the “means” of a bad-scenario Brexit Britain.

            You seem to rely a lot on tradition and precedent for what could happen. Well, Britain is walking into a fairly unprecedented scenario to begin with. If the English only have a “tradition” of fighting people “outside” their country as long as they had The Empire and/or strong international connections.

            Things could be different in Brexit Britain. They might not have the money for foreign wars and young people (who would mostly be asked to fight) largely voted to remain.

            They could revert to Pre-Imperial dynamics in that they mostly have each other to turn on. Indeed the talked about parallels to Henry VIII’s ousting Britain from another previously popular pan-European power raise some disturbing possibilities.

  5. When the English no longer have someone to turn on they turn on each other. Will the broadcasting ban be brought back for Mr O’Neill? After all what he is advocating is political violence.

  6. The problem was always sourcing and getting arms and ammo.

    • Especially when there is no tradition of insurgency or rebellion. There is no well to draw upon, no rotten door to kick down, no sea for the fish to swim in.

      • First time for everything. Oops, civil war in England was 1649.

      • There are some types of temperate forests where fire has to happen every so often. If fires happen every few years they are typically mild and self-limiting blazes that clear plant diseases and parasites, encourage trees to drop seeds, and clear away weeds so some young saplings have room to grow and possibly become mighty trees someday. If fires is suppressed for decades the forest becomes sick with fungal diseases and various parasites. Young trees are snuffed out and few seeds even hit the forest floor. When fire finally does come it becomes a cataclysmic blaze that destroys everything in its path including the grand old trees-even if they aren’t very sick to begin with.

        England has gone centuries without many mild “fires”. Even a non-violent revolution can be a “mild fire”-another thing England has never really had.

        They have never under any conditions gotten a “fresh start”.

        Rather than assume that this is The Englishman’s Inescapable Destiny, where anyone who says different gets Fintan O’Toole standard diagnosis of “hysterical and unwarranted self-pity”. In fact, I suspect the history can make England a particularly volatile powder keg given the right conditions.

        I suspect that these bizarrely misnamed “public schools” are the main “plant diseases and parasites” that have been allowed to fester, and have made society particularly sick.

        Under the wrong conditions things could get volatile.

      • UVF and other fringe groups have the guns and there re guns aplenty in the UK legal gun clubs and other illegal.
        BBC
        “The ONS analysis for individual police forces covers the year to the end of March 2018 and showed 6,521 firearms offences, a 2% rise and the fourth increase in a row”.

  7. Shane Waters

    “People don’t think it’s possible in this country just because it has not happened before”

    Tacit admission the north of Ireland is another country?

    • That indeed is a given. Similar to Brexit being the greatest domestic calamity, threat, upheaval, to befall the UK in centuries. Ignoring the loss of 30% of its territory in the 1920s and the alteration of the state’s legal name.

  8. They dont need guns a couple of drones as Saudi Arabia has found to its cost can be pretty effective in causing economic disruption.

    • But drone operators need leaders, money, trainers, sympathisers, supporters, etc etc. None of which exist.

      Unless BoJo goes full Franco none of this is likely to happen beyond 1980s style riots as in Thatcherite UK. Albeit on a more sustained scale.

      Of course, a departing Scotland would be another matter. There you have, perhaps, the roots to sustain something more akin to factional terrorism.

      • I suspect Bojo could go full Franco if the wrong buttons were pushed. The guy has a dangerously cavalier mindset-and mightnot take what he’s about to do seriously enough.

  9. The IRA in the 1980’s tried to develop a flying bomb using radio controlled model aircraft. I don’t know how far they got but I assume not far as im sure it would have been used if they had the technology. It maybe weight restrictions scuppered it.

  10. Kate Hoey a Labour MP shows up at Tory party conference to yell No Surrender. Have the DUP offered High Jump Hoey a safe seat?

    • Ah yes, the infamous Hoey. As far as I know she is she is sticking by her retirement plans. There was a brief rumour of her standing for the Faragists in the 6 Counties, possibly up against Sylvia Hermon, as a sort of pan-unionist candidate but that has faded. Though she remains close to the Dupes.

      • FFS (sorry, but really) there’s no end to her attention seeking. BTW, I see the DUP are getting ever more antsy over the way things are proceeding and are saying now they could ‘consider’ a time limited backstop. Guess the cries of pain from the business community and farming sectors in the North are finally beginning to get through.

          • Cheers, I hadn’t read that.

            • And it’s gloomy. It really does seem to be a crash-out Brexit.

              • Indeed so much for me thinking that signalled a sign of reality intruding on the DUP. Nothing like that at all…

              • I think the odds of a no deal crash-out have decreased with the Benn act. Let’s say the EU summit on 17-18 rejects Johnson’s latest round of proposals, still gives UK Dáil enough time to force the extension request through legislatively or judicially, and then trigger an election. Unless DUP end up kingmakers again, it will be an NI only backstop and the WA passes.

                Only way to avoid that outcome is for Johnson to force the EU to deny an extension, threatening to use their MEPs to gum up the functioning of the EU would probably do it.

                Even if Johnson wriggles his way into a no deal crash-out, the UK is eventually going to want to trade with the EU on terms other than WTO. And the EU has made it clear that passing the WA is a prerequisite. Which would certainly be an NI only backstop.

                So I guess the only unknowns are: How long before the UK passes the WA? Will it be before or after NI calls in the UI cavalry?

  11. More scaremongering and demonising of those that voted for brexit. Truth is if the corrupt politicians had honoured the will of the people, after all it’s the people that are ‘sovereign’ not parliament, then there would be no anger. By and by its all irrelevant as the pantomime being played out is designed to dupe the public into accepting Teresa May’s fake brexit deal. Btw, don’t be shocked that the state carries out a fake terror attack just to give the brexiteers a final nudge I.e if they(stat) don’t think twice about carrying out terrors attacks in Iraq,Syria and indeed Ireland then it will not be a stretch for them to mount one on home soil. ‘For the greater good’ and all that.

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