Economy

Davos Is Dead


- January 25th, 2019
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The people who ruined the world all gathered high in the Swiss Alps this week to insist, to themselves at least, that all is well and good.

Yes. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, everything is just swell.

President Trump wasn’t there because he is busy demanding a wall across the southern border. British Prime Minister Theresa May wasn’t there because she is demanding Great Britain leave the European Union, kind of. French President Emmanuel Macron wasn’t there because platoons of yellow-vested French citizens are demanding he leave office.

To those engorging themselves on canapés and canned applause in the Swiss mountains, this is just swell.

Germany’s Angela Merkel, of course, was there. And she wasted little time in lambasting British citizens for opting to leave her European Union. In a luculent attack hallmarked of one’s last words, Merkel underlined that the EU, crumbling though it may be, was set up by people who “knew what they were doing.”

Because, apparently, the British people don’t.

But the charm of the Davos set slicks dry. And it is no mystery as to why. They’re terrified.

Another storied buzzwig couldn’t help himself. He seldom can. Former British PM Tony Blair dementia-grinned his way into the TV cameras, insisting that his work in overturning Brexit was, in fact, democratic.

Which is hilarious. Blair’s 13 years at 10 Downing Street adrenalized this great bubbling mess.

It was Blair’s disastrous open-borders fetish that turned British majorities against immigration. It was Blair’s Iraq war that destroyed public trust in the political class. It was Blair’s neoliberal Davos-approved economics that helped plunge the financial system into chaos.

Brexit is Tony Blair. The Rust Belt is Tony Blair. The Gilets Jaunes are Tony Blair.

Of course, he doesn’t get it. Psychopaths never do.

His ilk swans around the ski resort of Davos with an unbridled arrogance, telling each other that this Brexit thing is just a game. A second referendum is coming! And the proles will vote the right way, this time.

But the people that ruined the world are not of the world.

It is they who don’t know what we were voting for. Brexit upended practically everything the Davos set holds dear. They may feign a diagnosis. But their prescription is the same—more globalization. More of this thing of ours.

Because Brexit just cannot happen. Like the wall, it is a total repudiation of the Davos creed.

Which is why, with just over two months to go, they still think 2016 was theater. The audience dare not chime in.

But their delusions are not entirely unwarranted. Our political class remains engaged in a dirty protest against the people. After watching Brexiteers suffocate Theresa May’s withdrawal deal to leave the EU, Remainers are now telling EU bosses that a feather-soft “Brexit” is within reach.

In fact, Europe’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, is now convinced that May’s dead deal fell to historic defeat because it wasn’t soft enough.

Remarkably, Barnier told the Luxembourg Times this week that the hated “Irish Backstop” was “not the central issue.” That is despite practically every Conservative lawmaker stating that it was, in fact, the central issue leading to their overwhelming rejection of May’s proposal.

This is not what they had in mind. The drowning of May’s deal was meant to force the EU to junk the backstop. For now, they haven’t blinked.

But the threat of no Brexit at all is enough for Brexiteers to take it seriously. Jacob Rees-Mogg and company are keenly reassessing their options. As I noted last week, if May secures any change on the backstop, her deal will go through. They just need something.

Yet, Remainers—whom form a majority of lawmakers—are jostling for a second referendum. Or they were. That was until the Orwellian-named “People’s Vote” group of lawmakers dropped their plans to usher in another referendum.

Perhaps they realized that most Britons oppose a second vote. Or perhaps they realized that every Leave voter would relish the chance to boot them again, while a sizeable portion of soft Remainers—many unimpressed with such perfidy—would take a rain check on a second vote.

Because the scare-stories haven’t worked. Rather than the threat of “crashing out” of the EU without a deal spooking people straight, most are happy to do so. The audience of last week’s “Question Time,” a political debate show usually replete with Remainers, raucously applauded no-deal.

Before the referendum, I cannot recall one person whose preferred destination was to leave the European Union with no deal at all.

Which is why the Davosie is dead. Nothing they say can convince people otherwise.

Perhaps they are right. Perhaps we have lost our minds. Or maybe, we can see this grand thimblerig for what it really is—a glittering party for the few.

Well, as the notable absences at Davos underscore, that party is over.

Photo Credit: Khalil Mazraawi/AFP/Getty Images

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