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Four Years Gone

About Brexit and Trump and the legacy of the past four years.

Four years ago, in a piece called ‘Which is Worse?,’ I wrote that:

Brexit is worse than Trump, because Trump is only for four years — less if he gets impeached or twenty-fived, which is almost certain; but Brexit is forever.

Who would have thought, back then, that, while Trump would be gone (having been impeached not once but twice) but Brexit, in its final form, would only be getting started?

I use the word ‘final’ facetiously. David Allen Green has been writing about this too, and he avers:1

In 2016, American voters (via the electoral college) elected Trump for a term of four years, while those in the United Kingdom voted for Brexit with no similar fixed term.

One decision was set to be revisited in four years, the other was not.


There will be no cathartic Biden-like ceremony to bring Brexit to a close.

This is because of the nature of the 2016 referendum (which, unlike the election of Trump, was not a decision for a fixed period); and because of the dynamic structure of the new relationship as set out in the trade and cooperation agreement; and because of the unsettled politics both internally in the United Kingdom and of its relationship with the European Union.

And so, to a significant (though not a total) extent, the United States was able to bring what it decided in 2016 to a formal and substantial end, the United Kingdom cannot similarly do so.

For the United Kingdom, 2016 is here to stay.

His ‘here to stay,’ and my ‘forever’ could be overstating the case. I feel sure that the United Kingdom, in some form, or at least parts of it, will join the European Union again one day. How far away that day is, and what form the accession country or countries of the time will have, we can only learn by living through it. It will be more than another four years, that’s for sure.

  1. As he loves to do. It would be hard to find one of his posts without the word ‘aver’ in it. I think they get inserted by automatic operation of law.

    He also loves a long title: ‘The United States had its cathartic post-2016, post-Trump ceremonial moment – but the United Kingdom cannot have a similar post-2016, post-Brexit moment’.