June 15, 2016 Last Updated 11:20 am

Brexit in the UK, guns in the US, there are big votes ahead

Morning Brief: The Financial Times editorializes for staying in the UK, Murdoch’s papers say it is time to go; The Washington Post wants gun control, The Washington Times says it’s all the President’s fault

These are interesting times… again. While we often look back at interesting times with nostalgia, living through them is stressful.

Next week the UK votes on whether to leave the European Union, and until this week the betting was that voters would realize that, though it has defects, a united Europe was better than the alternative. No longer.

uk-papers-brexit-6-15Polls now show the “leave” in the lead and those that benefit from EU membership, such as the London financial community, are in a near panic.

“This newspaper has supported British membership of the EU from the outset in 1973,” the Financial Times said today in an editorial. “The Financial Times does not favour membership of the single currency. It makes no economic sense. But opting out of the euro is quite different from opting out of the EU, which would seriously damage the UK economy.”

But the public appears to feel that the current situation is set up solely to benefit monied interests. Continued high levels of immigration benefit businesses that can enjoy a labor market where wages are depressed.

Also, as in Greece, those in the financial community feel tied into a large, regional business environment. Moving to work in London, Paris, or even Athens, doesn’t feel like moving to a foreign country when you are surrounded by business people with the same interests. The UK may not be on the Euro, but they might as well be, so integrated is the financial system. Drop out of the EU and suddenly the world feels much smaller, a business person’s options suddenly limited.

David Cameron and the “stay” side have tried to use the same tactics that helped them win in the last general election: fear. Just as they painted Labour as untrustworthy and unable to manage the economy, they have tried to get the public to believe that the sky would fall should they vote to exit the EU. To reinforce this impression, yesterday the government unveiled a budget that showed that taxes would rise following a “leave” vote, the Bank of England said today the value of the pound would fall.

Labour chief Jeremy Corbyn is in a bind. He sees Cameron treading water, ready to go under. A “leave” vote could finish him. But Labour is officially for a united Europe, worker solidarity, and all that – those things workers no longer actually believe in, like strong unions, worker solidarity, and all those quaint things that made the English middle class. But this isn’t the post war years, when the voters, despite beating Hitler, rejected Churchill and voted to create the welfare state. The welfare state, many feel, was meant for them, not the thousands of immigrants to feel are coming to their island for a better life. It’s England First, now, just as it is America First for some in the States.

Update: Labour MP Jo Cox was shot today in Leeds, the gunman arrested. The Guardian is being cautious in tying the shooting to the Brexit debate, but The Telegraph is reporting that the gunman shouted “Britain First” when shooting Cox.

“Both Vote Leave and the Remain camp have suspended campaigning for the day in light of the events,” The Sun said in it report.

Later Update: UK media reports state that Labour MP Jo Cox was declared dead by a paramedic at the scene of the attack.

Last night, the Democrats did something highly out of character, they fought back. Led by Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, they filibustered the Senate, forcing the Republicans to agree to vote on amendments, not yet introduced, that would expand background checks and prevent suspected terrorists from acquiring guns.

hc-front-396Of course, the Republican controlled Senate will, in the end, vote down these amendments. But at least there will be vote, putting the GOP once again on record as against any reasonable controls on firearms.

For Republican Senators, who must win statewide elections, the vote will be tricky. Already, two Illinois Republicans have broken ranks because they are in tough reelection battles – Sen. Mark Kirk and Rep. Bob Dold are likely to lose this fall, so have decided it is better to go down fighting for what they actually believe than to toe the party line.

“We cannot allow partisanship to define this debate. We must take decisive action and united action to ensure nothing like the attacks on Orlando, Paris, Newtown or San Bernardino ever happen again.” Rep. Dold said in supporting the idea of new gun legislation.

But no one expects any amendment to pass, or even be written, that can pass the Senate. “I don’t think it’s going to work out,” California Senator Dianne Feinstein said after speaking with Republican Senators about a possibly amendment.

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