FinancialGuy Writes!

Is reality beginning to dawn on the Brexit process? Is there a tide turning against the whole thing?

Recent weeks have shown that the majority of the pre-vote promises are going to be either very difficult or impossible to fulfill. Far from the NHS getting an extra 350 million quid a week, the “divorce” bill looks more likely to set the British economy back for years. Instead of the opening of new golden era of trade, Britain will be able to “survive” outside the EU. Ahem.

This is making FinancialGuy think about one of Daniel Kahneman’s famous statements, “Nothing in life is as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it“.

In the case of Brexit, everyone was thinking about immigration. Everyone was not thinking about the health of the economy, renegotiating every existing trade deal, the stability of the United Kingdom, changing every single law in the books and general political chaos. Who could have known that those things would be more important than immigration???

As best I can tell, many people do not trust journalists very much. Whether we believe what is written or explained, who can say? However, while the media is in our minds, it dominates our attention and is able to set an agenda. In the UK, that agenda has been immigration, pensions and the EU’s many sins for as long as I can remember. Yet now, at last, many people in the media are highlighting the difficulties that need to be faced (I particularly liked this piece by The Economist).

As political scientist Bernard Cohen wrote, “The press may not be successful most of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling them what to think about“.

At this point, I would like to compare the UK and US. The American media – especially their stand-up comedians – have been merciless in pointing out the frailties and inconsistencies in the Trump administration. In the UK, it feels to me as though everyone is muted and scared of the backlash. If, as Brexit becomes more and more ridiculous, it is to be halted or changed significantly, the mass media really need to stop giving airtime to people with wafer thin jingoistic “Britain is best” arguments when real policy and real options need to be presented.

Fake it until you make it is fine, up to a point, but sooner or later you can’t fake it any longer.

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