In a Halloween ‘Boo,’ Britons Are Eying a Brexit-Type Referendum on the Green New Deal
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
As Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to address on Monday the opening at Glasgow of the COP26 summit on climate change, it seems that the Brexit spirit has not been exorcised from the United Kingdom.
It rises from the grave to take on the British equivalent of the “Green New Deal.” And just in time for Halloween. In answer to the Conservative Government’s “net zero” agenda in response to anthropocentric climate change, Britons are stirring in indignation.
The idea of a referendum to set their representatives straight — as in Brexit — is starting to percolate. So suggests a poll commissioned by CAR26 (Climate-Analysis-Reason). It found that 42% surveyed support a national referendum with 30% opposed. Excluding the “don’t knows,” that translates into 58% in favor of a referendum. They are not ready to give up the ghost of British independence, whether from bureaucrats in Brussels or presumptuous pols at home.
They are on to those intent on shutting down the most prosperous economic advances in human history. Mr. Johnson is reportedly prepared to imperil Britain to meet controversial targets making the country “carbon neutral” by 2050. Setting aside the “science,” which is far from being settled or conclusive, what are the consequences from the perspective of political economy?
Rather dire, particularly for low wage earners. The Government plans to mandate measures for the removal of gas boilers and the installation of low-carbon alternatives pumps — expenditures costing as high as £20,000 a household, when additional “decarbonization” renovations are added. That’s just to retrofit housing.
How will electricity be generated? Coal-fired plants are out; solar- and wind-sources of energy are in. Never mind that their efficacy at both generating power, of sufficient strength and duration — mind, the moon won’t power solar panels — is unreliable. Add to this the transportation costs when combustion engines are outlawed. In shops, stock shortages and empty shelves will become the new normal.
Mr. Johnson has no qualms about staking Britain’s survival in service of an empty ideology. Fortunately, others are not so sanguine. Like the hero of Brexit, Nigel Farage. “This could well be my latest campaign,” Mr Farage tweeted. “I’ve been saying that the rush to Net Zero and the way in which it is being done is going to be ruinous,” he told his audience on the GB news network.
“It’ll lead,” Mr. Farage added, “to yet more huge transfers of money from the poor to the rich . . . And yet, just like the European Question, my growing sense of it’s been that out there in the Shires, people are asking, hang on — who’s paying for all of this?”
Harkening back to his success in forcing the EU referendum in 2016, Mr Farage was forthright: “Clearly, a lot of you out there feel this shouldn’t be done without you being asked and actually, this wasn’t really what you voted for in 2019,” when Mr. Johnson won a staggering parliamentary majority to get Brexit accomplished.
Will the Government acquiesce to a referendum? Conservatives cannot be ignorant of David Cameron’s cynical agreement to a vote on EU membership. Having so alienated large segments of the population with lockdowns and threats of vaccine passports, Parliament would be hard pressed to ignore calls for a vote on Britain’s future.
If the Government were to win, battle lines will have formed for future contests on behalf of personal liberty. What, though, if the Government were to lose? Would Boris resign, taking Mr. Cameron’s departure from Downing Street as a precedent? Don’t bet on it. Were he shamelessly to hold on to power, though, the Prime Minister’s days at Number 10 would be numbered.
No less momentous would be the effect upon the Royal Family. So confident are Prince Charles and Prince William in the righteousness of their cause, it is difficult to believe they would “sit out” the referendum. Were they to lose, the British monarchy could well be discredited to its foundations.
Now that the idea of a climate-shutdown referendum has been run up the flagpole, all can read its signal. Britons are unhappy with Westminster. Preliminary poll numbers bear this out. Rivals to the Johnson ministry, whether climate-skeptical Tories in the “Net Zero Scrutiny Group” or opposition parties, will challenge the ruling Conservatives. Minor parties on the right could see fertile ground on which to rally Brexiteers repelled by Boris’s antics.
We may even begin to see some common sense brought to bear on the whole question of environmental anthropocentrism. A defense of traditional British culture might no longer be considered “politically impossible.”
BrexitDiarist@gmail.com. Image: A cloud study done in oil on paper in 1824 by John Constable. From the Yale Center for British Art, via Wikipedia Commons.