Brexit is like boiling a frog alive

frog boil photo
Photo by DonkeyHotey
The boiling frog is a fable describing a frog being slowly boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death.

I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that a horrible and destructive Brexit is happening – and quite possibly in Scotland, too – because it’s happening so slowly that the public never thinks it’s time to jump out and stop it.

My point is that the government and most of the media are only admitting very slowly how Brexit will be, and the companies leaving are also doing so quietly. This will probably continue after Brexit – things will slowly get worse, or growth will just be much less than it would otherwise have been.

If the government had announced within a few months of Brexit that they were planning to take the UK out of the Customs Union and the Internal Market, and that this would lead to a recession that’s likely to be five times worse than the financial crash, there would have been an uproar.

However, by this point people are scunnered and hardly pay attention to the Brexit horror stories. I’m starting to think it’s only by the time the transition period is ending (or perhaps not even then) that people will realise what has happened, and by then there’s no easy way to reverse the process.

I worry the same is happening in Scotland. If the Titanic were sinking faster, I’m sure we’d launch the independence lifeboat in time; however, a lot of people are advocating waiting till the ship has fully sunk before thinking about escaping it.

I’m hoping there’ll be a new independence referendum in time, but I’m not seeing any indication that the SNP leadership are making any preparations for this – and I’m sure this is because they’ve sussed people are scunnered and can’t be bothered with a new referendum at this time. They might also think that people will realise after Brexit what has happened, but will they? Will they not simply see that things are bad, but not fully understand why? Will they necessarily think that independence will improve matters?

If you see a frog being boiled alive, should you not provoke it into jumping out of the water while it can? Or should you just leave it to boil and assume it’ll come to its senses afterwards?

3 thoughts on “Brexit is like boiling a frog alive

  • 06/04/2018 at 09:27
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    The premise is faulty anyway. Frogs will jump out, no matter how slowly boiled. Our water simply isn’t too hot yet.

    I know the alternative options, at this point, are scant. The problem is we have a form of Schrodinger’s paradox happening here: the UK may or may not leave the EU. It is technically true that we could wait until middle of March and then withdraw Article 50 notification. That being the case, the mandate for an IndyRef2 is current simultaneously triggered and not triggered.

    Literally all the UK government would have to do to win/block IndyRef 2 is cancel Brexit, however unlikely that seems at the moment. Whilst some of us might be satisfied to see the UK stay in the EU, I think it would be a disaster because the rUKers would resent Scotland for it. And constitutionally, nothing protects us from English goodwill(or lack of).

    IndyRef2 will be happening during the transition period. April 2019 to December 2020 is our only realistic window to slip out of the UK and into the EU.

    I do not think it can happen after the transition, mind you. Early half of 2021 is far too close to the Scottish elections – which will be regarded as a referendum on the referendum if one isn’t held before then.

    My money is on Sept 2019.

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  • 06/04/2018 at 10:11
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    I think it’s only fair to let you know that The Boiling Frog was originally the name of a good pro-Brexit website. It was on blogspot, as I recall.

    The contention was that membership of the EU was like the frog’s immersion in the slowly boiling water. Our sovereignty – the power that ordinary people wield by voting in general elections – was being steadily and stealthily stripped, without any real democratic consent. Powers were being taken from the people at general elections and then given to the EU, rather than being handed back to the people at the next election.

    This is even happening today. Recently the EU Commission proposed introducing new ‘harmonised’ taxation powers over digital companies. This is a political power-grab dressed up as technocratic management. So far, happily, the Dutch are blocking it. But it shows the stealth and manipulation of the EU class – an anti-democratic pathology that ordinary people saw through on the day of the referendum.

    I don’t use cliches in my own writing but you can see, surely, that the boiling frog anthology fits the EU far better. Boiling frogs are passive – but ordinary voters have been active in rejecting the ruinous EU project.

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  • 06/04/2018 at 10:28
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    True, I think. Possibly, twenty years into the future people will not have noticed a difference even though, relative to their alternative-reality self where the UK stayed in the EU, they’re 10% poorer, so stuff is 10% more expensive. They get a TV for £300 when they would have bought the one for £330. Stuff like that. It’s hard for people to reason about how they’re doing in alternative realities. Of course some will be winners and some will lose.

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