UPDATED! November 2023: New comments policy

Sometime in 2017 I disabled comments on this blog, mainly because of the volume of abuse, mainly from Brexiters. I always slightly regretted it, as it also meant that what could be useful debate and discussion was lost.

Some of the worst vitriol around Brexit now seems to have abated, so I am going to experiment with opening comments again. However, there is going to be a rigorous moderation policy, operated by me and at my sole discretion. The basic principle is that this is my space, and those entering it do so according to my rules.

This means:

All threats, insults, or even snide comments directed at me or at other commenters are liable to be deleted and the poster permanently blocked. That applies regardless of whether the comment is pro-Brexit or anti-Brexit.

Anything that looks even remotely like “sealioning” will be deleted and the poster permanently blocked. What I mean by sealioning is described by Wikipedia:

Sealioning is a type of trolling or harassment that consists of pursuing people with relentless requests for evidence, often tangential or previously addressed, while maintaining a pretense of civility and sincerity ("I'm just trying to have a debate"), and feigning ignorance of the subject matter. It may take the form of "incessant, bad-faith invitations to engage in debate"

If you are blocked for sealioning, it doesn’t mean you have ‘won the debate’. It means you have disqualified yourself from debate by your conduct.

In this experimental period, comments will not be pre-moderated.

Depending on the volume of comments, and the time I have, I may not respond to any/ all comments, but it doesn't mean I haven't read them or appreciated them.

Added in October 2023: Having now enabled comments for three weeks, I would be grateful if from now on posters would comment under a username (not just 'Anonymous'), or at the very least sign their posts with a name. The only way I can actually prevent Anonymous comments would be to restrict commenting to people with Google accounts, which seems too restrictive. 

I hope that this new policy will foster interesting and useful discussion, but if not then I will revert to a ‘no comments’ policy.

Added in November 2023: Due to an influx of automated spam comments, and a small number of highly inflammatory neo-fascist comments, I have now had to introduce comment moderation. This will mean that there will be a delay in comments being published. Apologies to all the responsible posters for this having proved necessary. 


  1. Good luck with the new policy Chris. And I also now know what sealioning is. Every day a school day.

    1. Yes. That was cool. I know now too! #school

  2. Thank you Chris, for the excellent commentary which I have followed and read since probably the start!. Just as relevant now as at the beginning so please continue the documentation. It will be an important historical record.
    Personally as a product/industrial designer Brexit has affected me. I read at least 8+ of the EU papers in full and parts of several others. as they affected CE certification, design registrationm trade marks, intellectual property etc etc.
    One aspect you have touched upon before is the Unified Ptent Court which I belive currently has 18 of the EU countries signed up to. Johnson reneged on his pre 2019 election promise and took the UK out of it. This might be worth revisiting. I intend to patent one idea at least from an EU country using a proxy as a direct result.
    It is also farcical to have to get CE certification which I used to do at a local test house done in an EU country. Especially after the latest volte face. Only your good self and Peter Foster have covered this issue thoroughly and objectively.
    More power to your pen.
    I am still just as angry about the entire lack of proper debate in 2016 as ever let alone the greater geopolitical consequences such as Trump removing GPS from the UK in 2017 while the UK was out of Galileo (technically 2021). If Ministers were to propose the annual defence budget to be equivalent of 800 BN USD I would take Global Britain seriously...

    1. Thanks very much. You have a good memory as it is not since March 2020 that I touched on the Unified Patent Court issue and you're right that it would be worth revisiting. You obviously know quite a bit about it - are there any recent reports/ resources you could point me towards that might be useful?

    2. 1. Re CE the biggest loss is actually at the smaller end of the SME spectrum. A largish company would be able to pay for a test lab and certification body, and it is no big deal to simply switch to a EU-based TL and CB rather than a UK-based one. However a micro/smaller company would often have gone the much cheaper self-certification pathway, relying on their own internal test programme (etc). The self-certification route is now entirely closed to all UK companies (and individuals) and this in practical terms completely closes the entire EU market to all UK smaller companies of manufactured end products. (Not so for materials mind you, but it is so for any products covered by one or more of the relevant directives).
      2. A reason that many people may choose to put forwards entirely reasonable and valid points under an anonymous attribution is so as to speak more openly, either regarding their feelings and opnions, or because of professional sensitivities. I hope your new comments policy does not completely prevent this.

    3. Thanks, David, that's a very helpful and interesting point/ clarification re CE. On your second point, yes, I understand that and, rest assured, I'm not preventing anyone commenting anonymously, just asking them, where possible, to identify themselves (even if by pseudonym) as otherwise it is impossible to tell which 'anonymous' is which.

  3. Starmer has 'asserted' that there is 'no case for going back into the SM and CU'. On what basis? He really must give reasons for the benefit of the reported 85% of Labour voters who would like to rejoin.

  4. I really appreciate your detailed analysis of the impact of Brexit. Sadly, I don't think it will convert many (if any) brexiteers - people believe what they want to believe but the underlying facts will grind down the pro brexit arguments.

  5. This blog has been a beacon of sanity these past seven years. Your patience in refuting the incoherence, bad argument and plain gaslighting of Brexiters is to be commended.

  6. Excellent commentary Chris. Thanks very much.
    Regarding Sir Keir Starmer's ideas about re-engaging with the EU
    On the 4th July 2022 the Labour Party under Starmer issued a definitive policy statement on the EU and ruling out rejoining the EU single market but laying out areas where they would seek to change the current EU-UK TCA.
    If you look at that 5 Point Labour Party policy statement on the EU Point 3 says this:
    "Labour will seek mutual recognition of professional qualifications to enable our world leading service industries to do business in the EU"

    That is nothing less than wanting free trade in services in the Single Market but without being a member of the EU/EEA under EU law and courts.

    In a guest opinion in the Guardian in Dec 2018 Corbyn wrote that Labour would:
    1) "honour Brexit" (ie leave the EU and EEA), but it would negotiate:
    2) "A new, comprehensive customs union with the EU, with a British say in future trade deals".
    3) "a new and strong relationship with the single market that gives us frictionless trade, and the freedom to rebuild our economy and expand our public services"

    Corbyn ended by saying "our plan would not leave Britain as an across-the-board rule-taker of EU regulations without a say." and that Labour would succeed because the EU did not trust the Tories but would trust Labour.

    Not so sure Starmer has realised that the UK is not going to be able to cherry-pick bits of the SM it wants nor that (as you pointed out in your blog of 15th Sept) the UK is going to have to be a rule taker as it cannot afford to diverge.

  7. Just to say, you are an island of sanity and reason in a sea of crazy. Your blog will prove an invaluable historical record of the time the UK lost its mind. The fact that brexiters came here to spout abuse merely proves they know they've made a catastrophic mistake, otherwise they'd be coming here to gloat about it's successes.

  8. Hi there. One of the repeated themes on the pages of the Guardian is complaining about Starmer not rejoining the SM/CU. From here in France I see little enthusiasm. Do you have any feel for what the attitude of the EU is or would be?

  9. Is it possible to get a pdf or electronic version of the Endnotes of the new edition of Brexit Unfolded so that one may relatively easily access the numerous (and longwinded to type out) webpages etc referenced?

  10. I don't think so - unless the e-book version creates html links?

  11. Chris, delighted that you have started accepting comments again. A lively debate is very welcome and I hope the opportunity will not be abused

  12. Thanks for opening this up Chris. I've just followed the link to your blog of April 2020 which was so insightful, I've just printed it off for the record. As I read it again, I thought how sad it is that so many people (in and out of government) are still 'caught' in the cult of the Brexit belief-system and still refusing to even consider the possibility that Brexit has been so damaging on so many levels, not least to our parliamentary democracy as you rightly say. Reading reviews today of a book called The Plot highlights this. To me it's heartbreaking for our nation. But your work in accurately recording the whole journey has been inspirational (even at the worst times) and I agree will be an incredible record for future historians of this period. Thank you.

  13. Thanks, Jane, much appreciated.