Brexit Chaos



HUGH HEWITT: Morning glory, America. Bonjour, hi, Canada. Greetings to the rest of the globe listening on hughhewitt.com. If you're watching on Univision, good morning to you in the camera there. I'm on the West Coast edition from the relieffactor.com West Coast studio.  

And it is the last radio hour of the week. That means it is time for the Hillsdale Dialogue. All things Hillsdale are found at Hillsdale.edu. Including your opportunity to sign up absolutely free for Imprimis, the speech digest sent out monthly by the lantern of sweet reason in the north. And every online course you've ever wanted or needed about the Constitution, the progressives, Winston Churchill, World War II is available also at Hillsdale.edu.  

All of these dialogues that have always marked the end of The Hugh Hewitt Show since 2013, the end of the week for The Hugh Hewitt Show, with Dr. Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College or one of his colleagues, dating back to 2013 are collected for your binge listening, podcasting pleasure at HughForHillsdale.com.  

Today is going to be special because Dr. Larry Arnn is back. And as many of you know, he is married to a wonderful product of the United Kingdom, the amazing Penny. His father-in-law was on Dunkirk. And he is very conversant with England, having studied at New College, having worked as the key right hand of Sir Martin Gilbert, the official biographer of Churchill. The author, himself, Larry Arnn is, of books about Churchill and Lincoln and our Framers. And now, someone perfectly positioned to tell us what in the world is going on in the United Kingdom.  

I think it's all bad news, the two headlines. Dr. Arnn, welcome, good morning.  

LARRY ARNN: Good morning.  

HEWITT: From The Wall Street Journal, "Brexit Hardliners Reassess, Maybe We Overplayed Our Hand." The headline from The Times of London, "Boris Johnson Holds Talks with DUP as Pressure Increases on Theresa May." Your summary, sir.  

ARNN: Well, it's gone badly. The Parliament and the Tories, the Conservative cabinet, is basically remain-leaning. And so-- and Theresa May has been weak in the negotiations with the EU about separation.  

And the EU seized upon something that's brilliant because it touches a bad nerve in British politics. They are affecting-- the deal that is being negotiated would prevent Britain from strengthening the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. And there's trouble on that border. It's not as bad as it used to be. But it's still bad. And so that takes away one of their options. The EU does that in the name of representing Ireland, a member of the EU.  

And so, now, Theresa May's majority is non-existent. She has a plurality. And one of the coalition partners-- and they're a steady coalition partner of the Tories in good season and bad-- is the DUP, the Democratic Ulster Protestant party, the Democratic Ulster Party, I think it's called. And of course, they can't go along with that. And so there they are. They're stuck.  

And they're stuck because lots of people in the cabinet want to remain anyway. And they're stuck because of this DUP issue. And they're stuck because they're very afraid of a deal, of exiting the EU without a deal because they think it'll roil the markets. And they get predictions from the Bank of England that it will cut British growth, initially, significantly. And so, they can't face up to any policy.  

And you've got 640 people, roughly, in the Parliament. I can't remember exactly how many. And they're-- that's a lot. That's a big herd to try to drive around. So that's the Tory problem.  

And so, then she has gone to Jeremy Corbyn, who's the leader of the Labour Party and very left wing. It's a sort of return to the old Labour Party, socialize everything.  

HEWITT: He may have added anti-Semitism to that old mixed brew. He's really to the left of center, I mean, of everyone.  

ARNN: That's right. It's pretty-- so now, the Labor Party has their own set of difficulties, right? Because, first of all, they have pledged that they will support any reasonable Brexit deal. The people voted for it. Everybody says that over there. And so, they say that they will discuss with her. But, of course, she's twisting in the wind, and they must like that. And they don't want to save her.  

And they've got their own problem, too. Because the left wing of this now left wing Labour Party doesn't like the European Union for the reason that the Labour Party didn't like it traditionally. There are some rules in the European Union that prevent one from subsidizing industries and subsidizing production in order to guarantee for it, so no dumping and no government subsidy of the stuff you make. And that's not strict. And it doesn't prevent any of the European economies from being heavily influenced by the government, let's say. But they want to go farther. And so, for 30 years, the Tories were friendlier to the European Union than the Labor Party for those reasons.  

And so, there's not a majority in the Parliament to be made for any of the prospective deals, ranging from just leave, don't make a deal, to this thing that Theresa May has negotiated.  

And there's one other sticky point. And that lets me bring up Geoffrey Cox. Another sticking point is there's something called-- what they would do-- what Britain would do under her deal is stay in the customs union, suffer these controls over the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. And they would then negotiate with the EU about a withdrawal over time. Britain would, meantime, lose its seat as a voting member of the various European parties, the Parliament, the European Council, and the things on which the nations are represented.  

And then something called the backstop provision-- if they can't reach a deal, Britain can't go. And since it makes two to make a deal, that means that both parties have a veto, which means the European Union, one of the parties, has a veto.  

And so, there's an eloquent man. I've learned of him from my friend, Rupert Darwall, who writes on this. And you can find his by googling D-A-R-W-A-L-L. And he's a British guy who writes about politics and writes well.  

And so, he alerted me to Geoffrey Cox and to a podcast, well, a podcast of an interview he did. It's 40 minutes long, and it's very good.  

And he's a remain-- he's a leaver. He's a Brexit guy. And he became the attorney general in the May Parliament. And he's a very eloquent man. He likes poetry, and he quotes it all the time. And he's got a really great, rich, deep voice.  

And so, he says that we have to reassess now because this is very complicated. This is like a revolution, he says. We're going to get our independence back. And we are going to do it. The people have voted for it. And he doesn't think they'll ever take that vote back. Well, of course, there's doubt about that. And so, we have to go at it with more-- with a harder effort to find a solution. And it will take time.  

And he supports this going to Jeremy Corbyn in Labour on this argument. It's just a logical conclusion. If you can't get a majority for what the people voted for in your own party, then go to the others and see if you can get one. And he has decided that he supports the May deal now and thinks that we'll go into the negotiations. And they'll have a veto. And we will have given them a veto. But we'll still be able to get out. But it won't come to that, he always says.  

He's a very clever man. He's a distinguished lawyer, and he's used to negotiating. I've got one of those working for the college, right? And so, all of his--  

HEWITT: I was hoping you were saying I'm talking to one of those right now. But go ahead.  

ARNN: Yeah, yeah, there you go.  

HEWITT: Yeah.  

ARNN: So, every-- well, you're like this, too. Everything he says that's conciliatory also contains a weapon against the opposition. So, the interviewer, a Conservative guy who was interviewing him for a long time, he said, Corbyn will never go along with this.  

HEWITT: Who's the interviewer?  

ARNN: Alan Jones is his name.  


ARNN: And he was very good. He's very good. And he-- so he says, well, you know, Corbyn and the Labour Party will never go along with this. And Cox replies roughly this. He says, oh, I don't believe that. He said, their public position, often stated, is that they will support any reasonable deal. And I don't believe they would be guilty of going back on their word on that when the people have voted. So that's very sweet, but also reminds them of the argument he's going to make if they do. And everything he says is like that.  

So, I am encouraged by him, that, eventually, a way will be found through. But there is no way right now. They're not--  

HEWITT: We will come back after the break with Dr. Larry Arnn, because this matters so much for free people everywhere. Yes, for the United Kingdom and Europe. But it's about free people voting and then being ignored. This matters so much. We will be right-- it goes to the heart of representative democracy. Don't go anywhere, America. Dr. Larry Arnn on the Hillsdale Dialogue. We'll be right back. And I'll get him to send me a link to the Geoffrey Cox podcast with Alan Jones that he is referring to so I can tweet it out to all of you. I promise I will. Don't go anywhere. It's The Hugh Hewitt Show.  

Welcome back, America. Hugh Hewitt in the relieffactor.com Studio West Coast. It is the Hillsdale Dialogue, my weekly last hour of radio with the president of Hillsdale College, Dr. Larry Arnn, or one of his colleagues. All things Hillsdale, including Imprimis, the free news digest that comes out, speech digest, every month, available at Hillsdale.edu.  

When we went to break, we were talking about a podcast of Geoffrey Cox, former attorney general of the United Kingdom, talking about Brexit. Where is that again, Dr. Arnn?  

ARNN: Well, first of all, you have to know that Alan Jones turns out to be named Nick Robinson.   

Alan Jones is another guy. And it's at the BBC website. That website is bbc.co.uk/programmes. And they don't know how to spell programs. It's P-R-O-G-R-A-M-M-E-S. And you'll find a schedule there, or you can do a search for Geoffrey Cox and Nick Robinson.  

HEWITT: All right, and so in this-- we'll go back to that in the next break. But in the last break, you mentioned that the EU has leaned on a sensitive nerve, which is Ireland for the UK. Explain that for people, would you, and the Irish question in four minutes or less, please.  

ARNN: Oh, that'll be hard. So, history between Britain and Ireland goes back a very long way and is turgid, and difficult, and full of crimes and misdemeanors, many by the British.  

The person who negotiated home rule for Ireland-- it became an independent republic-- was Winston Churchill, his father having prevented it. That was in 1921, I think. So, Ireland has been an independent country all that time. And it's a heavily Catholic country.  

And Northern Ireland, however, remained with Britain. The formal name of Great Britain is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Great Britain means England, Scotland, and Wales, and Northern Ireland.  

Well, Northern Ireland is Protestant. And there has been violence between the Catholics of the south and the Prot-- and the south is much larger than Northern Ireland, by the way-- the Catholics of the south and the Protestants of the north forever. And that's been better in recent years. But--  

HEWITT: That's the Good Friday Agreement. Yeah.  

ARNN: But they don't want-- well, Northern Ireland does not want to join Catholic southern Ireland. And you know, the Catholic-Protestant stuff has moderated. But there's ideology. The IRA was heavily influenced by Marxism, or the Irish Republican Army was heavily influenced by Marxism for a long time.  

And so those Troubles, as they're called-- they're referred to as the Troubles. And Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, is the scene of many of the Troubles.  

And so, the point is, what's Britain going to do about that? And they're stuck with it because it's an old commitment, I mean, centuries old commitment to Northern Ireland. And they insisted on keeping that commitment in the agreements that produced the independent Irish Republic. And so, they don't feel like they can go back on it now.  

Well, this thing would diminish their options. And they regard this matter as concerning the security of their citizens.  

HEWITT: And so, if the DUP bolts and Theresa May loses a vote of confidence, does she have to resign? Even though the committee of 1922, which is the Tory management committee, though they have turned back one attempt, thereby allegedly securing her immunity from a second attempt for a year. If the DUP bolts and she loses a vote of confidence, does she have to exit 10 Downing?  

ARNN: Well, this situation is so weird. You did me the favor of saying I understand all this. And I reply, nobody does. The situation is so confused. The answer is normally, of course, she would have to resign because she-- a vote of no confidence would prove that she cannot legislate. And the Parliament is therefore nullified. And therefore, you need an election to get a new one.  

But it's possible-- like, I can imagine circumstances. I've learned to imagine different circumstances than I ever imagined before through all of this. I can imagine circumstances where she could lose a vote of no confidence and hang on for a period of time, not a long period of time, I wouldn't think, but maybe a month, where they just legislate about everything except this.  

HEWITT: When we come back from break, it is an untenable situation, in my view. The entire Western world is watching this, as it is every emerging democracy, about whether or not a vote of the people will be honored. Dr. Larry Arnn returns as the Hillsdale Dialogue continues after the break on The Hugh Hewitt Show.  

33 minutes after the hour. It's Hugh Hewitt, the relieffactor.com Studio West Coast edition of this week's the Hillsdale Dialogue. All things Hillsdale collected at Hillsdale.edu. Go get your application there. Go get your online courses there. Go get a subscription free to Imprimis, which arrives the old-fashioned way in your mail. It's paper. You can actually hold it. And go get every one of our conversations with Dr. Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College-- he's with me today-- or one of his colleagues, dating back to 2013 at HughForHillsdale.com.  

We are talking today about Brexit. And it's an incredibly important subject, whether or not we're talking about Homer or the moment.  

And I am dismayed by Theresa May, Dr. Arnn, because dismay is what you feel when a gap develops between your expectations about character and the actual character on display. I don't think she's a bad person. She's just not what I expected. She's weak. And she's weak in the defense of her people's vote. And so, I am dismayed.  

I'm not dismayed by Michael Avenatti. He turned out to be exactly what we thought he was. I'm not dismayed by Comey, or McCabe, or by anyone involved in this. I would be dismayed if AG Barr was less than the attorney general that I thought he is. But he's turned out to be exactly what I thought he is. So, I'm actually bolstered.  

But are you dismayed by May?  

ARNN: Well, I'll try. And so that word takes on a particular meaning that you don't like the prime minister.  

And I think she's a very good woman. And I think this is very difficult stuff. But I also think she's handled it badly. She's got a coalition. She has not attended to the needs of her key partners. You know, compared to the Israeli election, Netanyahu is very skillful at that, big coalition, lots of parties in it. He knows how to maneuver them and turn them into a force. And so, she can't do that. And it's collapsing, right?  

And the issue in the middle of all this is, I think, like the issue raised in American politics, wherever you stand on it. We know now that law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies have taken a position in an election. They've done things, Andrew McCabe says, to affect the election.  

And from their point of view, what they probably think is, all we did was investigate some stuff, and that's what we do for a living. Right? And I think that's true. And Comey points out in the paper this morning that we don't do spying, we do surveillance under court order. That's true. And they did have court orders. But then there's the possibility, or allegation, that they flummoxed the court, that they didn't reveal everything to the court when they went and got their warrants.  

And so those raise questions of political legitimacy from whence comes the authority to govern, governing meaning the use of force among other things, in order to guide the society, or dominate it, some would say? And so that's the fundamental question of American politics.  

HEWITT: That is.  

ARNN: Of all politics. That's where the country started, right? They write to the king-- "we hold these truths to be self-evident. To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."  

And so, this Brexit thing raises that point. And you can say, if you want to, that the vote was narrow. It was, the Brexit vote.  

HEWITT: 4%, correct?  

ARNN: Yeah, that's right. But it's also true that that's the way you do it, among equal souls. The old doctrine sort of understood in the American Revolution was you can only form a country by unanimity. If people don't want to be in the country, they have to leave. And they can. And they have a right to leave, by the way.  

But after that, because unanimity is impossible, then how else-- there's only one other way you could decide. And if all the souls are equal, then 51-- 50% plus one of them has to be heeded as against 49.9%.  

HEWITT: I had this conversation yesterday with Howard Schultz, candidate, maybe, for president, as an Independent. And he is for a second vote on Brexit. And I said, now, Howard Schultz, if you, by some chance, win the election, somehow you win the election, and the next day, everyone on the Republican and the Democratic side say, oh, oh, we would have voted differently if we'd known he was going to win, we want a revote, how would you feel? And he said, well, of course, that's different. We're talking about a category of one with the Brexit vote.  

And I said no, we're not. We're talking about every vote, every vote ever taken. Everyone who lost wants a revote and argue mutatis mutandis, changed circumstances. It just doesn't actually allow for the legitimacy of any vote if you start re-voting.  

ARNN: That's right. And re-voting is an operating practice of the European Union. They've asked more than once and more than one country for vote for powers for Europe. And generally speaking, they don't prevail. They certainly don't prevail everywhere. And so, then they go make a treaty among all the nations that give them the same powers.  

And that means that when the people have voted, for example, in Ireland once, not for this broad constitution this European Union has now, to make it a real lawmaking body, to overcome the Parliament of the United Kingdom, for example, the oldest parliamentary body, oldest existing continuous legislative body in the world, then they ask for it again. And that means-- and they get it some other way. And so that's--  

HEWITT: Corrosive.  

ARNN: It is. And especially when we live in an age-- because what's behind all this? There's an idea that only science, which has transformed the world-- it truly has-- only science in the sense of technology and technocracy-- technology means art, organized artfulness, human-making, right, that's different from nature, right, and different from God, or technocracy-- that is the rule of people who know how to manipulate things in a scientific way.  

And in the late 19th century, middle and early 19th century, in Europe, a movement grew up that now, we have a scientific understanding of the movements of history. And we have to guide our society toward whatever history, whatever future, we want. And we can make ourselves into what we want. And so that's a--  

Now, legitimacy, if that's the way-- and just think, that's different from the laws of nature and nature's God, which are available to the common sense, through both reason and faith, only to be governing when they're available to both, because one of the precepts of the laws of nature and nature's God is religious freedom. But on the moral level, common sense tells us right from wrong. And we deliberate together and decide as equal souls how to steer our course in light of those common sense knowings that teach us what we are.  

In the new way, that's all-- that's gone. But instead, what we have is planning, and science, and experimentation, and trial and error guided by a class of person, a group of people, who are trained in that. And that's a different source of legitimacy.  

HEWITT: Now, let me ask you very quickly, has Prime Minister Netanyahu been to Hillsdale's campus?  

ARNN: No, but he's spoken for the college twice. And I know him and admire him.  

HEWITT: To be elected the prime minister of the state of Israel five times and to soon surpass David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel, is a significant event. And I think Churchill knew Ben-Gurion, did he not?  

ARNN: He did. Oh, yeah. He knew them all. Chaim Weitzmann was his friend, one of the other founders of Israel.  

HEWITT: So, I think that Churchill would admire greatly Netanyahu's political and diplomatic and strategic skills. But this was really quite a win. I'm not a big fan of parliamentary systems with low thresholds because they paralyze parliamentary governments. But this was quite a win.  

ARNN: Well, you could say that the skill of Netanyahu is almost tactile.  

HEWITT: People who have not-- just turned into the show this week for the first time do not understand that. But they'll have to go look up tactile, Hugh Hewitt, and John Bolton.  

ARNN: So yeah, of course, we don't know what Churchill would say. We only know what he did say. And if you read Great Contemporaries, it's full of essays about great people Churchill knew. And a lot of them are people he didn't like and bitterly opposed, fought to the death with, in the case of Hitler. But he would admire just their skill and the ability and strength they brought to their work. And so first of all--  

HEWITT: I've got to add something to that. Great Contemporaries is one of my favorite books. He wrote about Lord Rosebery, who you know a lot more than I do, never really achieved electoral success. "He did not stoop. He did not conquer." Netanyahu does whatever he needs to do to win legally.  

ARNN: He does. And he's a brave man. He's done some fighting. And so, he's got nerve. And the Israeli political system is proportional representation. And that means that no one, not David Ben-Gurion, not Golda Meir, ever had a majority in the legislature, called the Knesset.  

Also, what is it, 15% or 20% of the voting population are Arabs.  

HEWITT: Right.  

ARNN: And they write in the press and are represented in the Knesset and vote. And so, everybody's always patched together a coalition. And that fact is-- I don't like proportional representation. Churchill really disliked it. I only know of one time in his life where he ever proposed it. And he didn't repeat it after that. And he resisted it often.  

Because what does it do? It fractures the vote in too many parts. It's like the Electoral College in America is under assault, but the purpose of that-- and of most American politics-- is to assemble opinion into a definite decision and do it in a way so it's spread across the whole country. Because uniting such a big, sprawling place as this is no easy task, because people who live in different places live different lives. And so, we've been extremely skilled at that, in part because our political system does not permit a decision immediately. But it forces a decision intermediately.  

HEWITT: And eventually, you get to clarity. As with Ronald Reagan's 525 electoral votes and Nixon's 520 electoral votes, eventually, after conflict, people choose. And they choose in the constitutionally mediated way of the Electoral College. And we will defend that as long as we're doing the Hillsdale Dialogue.  

Don't go anywhere. I'll be right back with Dr. Larry Arnn as we continue our conversation about Brexit and the Israeli elections because this matters to your life. We are waiting for a free trade deal with United Kingdom, as soon as it is loose from the coils of the European Union. Liam Fox is ready to run over here and negotiate with Lighthizer and President Trump and do a deal. And the United Kingdom will become the Singapore of the Atlantic. Don't go anywhere. I'll be right back, talking with Dr. Larry Arnn.  

Welcome back, America. It's Hugh Hewitt at the Hillsdale Dialogue, wrapping up for this week with Dr. Larry Arnn, the president of Hillsdale College. All things Hillsdale collected at Hillsdale.edu.  

Dr. Arnn back from a swing through DC. I think he's headed to Texas. I did some promos for that.  

And I don't know how many Texans are interested in Brexit. But let's go back to the beginning, Dr. Arnn. At this moment, there is paralysis. The must decide date's been pushed back to October 31. Do you personally anticipate-- and you've qualified all of your predictions by the uncertainty so intermixed in this? Do you anticipate a new set of elections in Great Britain before October 31?  

ARNN: No, I don't, although there's a good chance of that.  

HEWITT: Yeah, that's the qualification. But why don't you think so, even though we've heard your qualification?  

ARNN: Because in general, governments get taken down by something that emerges and looks strong. And this is a mess. And so who could combine to force an election? And however bad the votes have been on her Brexit deals; Theresa May has done better in the no confidence votes.  

HEWITT: And so, they're stuck, unless she chooses to resign. Correct? There comes a point at which I would assume everyone understands that I have not got the party behind me, and they just leave. Are there incidents of that in British political history?  

ARNN: Yeah. That's rare. The kind of people who get to be prime minister are the kind of people who get to be president of the United States, right? They're pretty willful and pretty--  

HEWITT: They do not lack confidence.  

ARNN: That's right. And Theresa May is tough, right? I mean, there's a lot to-- I think she's made an utter and complete mess of this. But it's also compatible with that to say that this is a very hard thing and one sees things to admire in her.  

HEWITT: You know why she made an utter and complete mess? You must negotiate a lot, as a president of a college, with Hillsdale, the city, with applicants, with professors, with departments, with provosts, with donors. If you go into any negotiation giving away the high ground at the beginning-- here's what we'll pay you to leave-- you've lost. It's just, to me, astonishing how badly she negotiated this.  

ARNN: Yeah, and a tough position. I agree with that. And a tough position for her would have been, look, there's a lot of people who want to leave this place. Right? If you wage a big fight with us, we're going to stir this up.  

And that's what's the death threat to them, see. They are sitting on a powder keg. And they know it. And they've got enormous authority. And like the person whose name I'm forgetting right now that she's negotiating with chiefly, where does he get--  

HEWITT: Barnier.  

ARNN: Yeah, where does he get his authority, right? Who put him in that place, right? And if you just point around Europe, it means, in one way, everybody has, which also is a synonym for nobody has. And almost everyone-- nobody knows his name, right? Who is he? What does he do? How is that thing even organized, right?  

And so, it's not a good system of accountability. And I think it has just not been designed to be willfully. And so, the hard thing to do to them is to just point that out.  

HEWITT: And so, at the end of the day, we have Boris Johnson. We have Michael Gove. We have a number-- and we have Jacob Rees-Mogg over there, wondering what to do. But they can't get right there-- they're not allowed to call for a leadership election for another many months, right?  

ARNN: Yeah, 10 months, I think.  

HEWITT: So, they may have made a mistake themselves in calling for it.  

ARNN: Well, the thing is so bad that everyone involved is mistaken.  

HEWITT: Yes. Yes.  

ARNN: It's what I like to say about educating young people. It's a pain to everyone concerned.  

Yeah, that's right. It's not good. And there's a lot of honorable people. I mean, it was good for me to listen to that 44-minute podcast by Geoffrey Cox and Nick Robinson, AKA, Alan Jones.  

And why? Because here is a thoughtful man, a principled man, steering his way through a morass. And it's because he has powers of articulation and understanding and because he reads poetry all the time that he can make some sense of it. But it's a challenge. And that's because--  

Remember, Abraham Lincoln steered us through a house divided crisis, two different ways that are not compatible of looking at the world among people who are citizens together. And that takes enormous powers of understanding, and comprehension, and articulation. And it takes some luck.  

HEWITT: And hopefully, it will not require 600,000 dead, or an equivalent number in the United Kingdom this time. Lincoln did get us through the carnage because the other side would not yield.  

ARNN: That's right.  

HEWITT: And he did it. Dr. Larry Arnn, a great Hillsdale Dialogue this week. I sadly fear we will be returning to Brexit again and again and again and again as the paralysis that grips the United Kingdom and the European Union spreads across the globe.