Fighting Brexit, One Caller and 100,000 YouTube Clicks at a Time

The talk radio host James O’Brien argues with Brexiteers every day on his show. It’s unclear if he has changed any minds, but it sure has made him famous.

Comments: 134

  1. Hold a second referendum. If "Leave" wins again, that's it. If "Remain" wins, declare a moratorium on the issue for one year, then hold a third referendum, which will decide the issue once and for all, i.e., two out of three.

  2. @C.L.S. Leaving the EU without a plan is not the way to run a country, just as trying to kill Obamacare without a plan to replace it with something better is. Conservative leaders in both countries are bereft of ideas and are relying on spiteful emotions from their base for support. They are too embarrassed to admit they were wrong to vote for Brexit or Trump and do not understand that they are voting against their own best interests. They simply do not utilize their brains when voting.

  3. @C.L.S. When you say, "if 'leave' wins again, that's it", what actually is "it"? Two years and a half after the referendum, the UK have been unable to agree upon what "leave" means. Parliament rejected Theresa May's deal, which was the result of two years of negotiations. So what does "leave" mean? Does it mean crash out without any deal at all? Or does it mean Theresa May's deal? Or perhaps joining EAA like Norway? Or staying in the single market but outside of the custom union while recognizing freedom of movement and paying into the EU budget, like Switzerland? A second referendum where the choice is between a very specific outcome, "remain", and a completely undefined one, "leave", is pointless.

  4. I think GB needs somebody from outside to clearly tell them first, not what to do about Brexit, but where they are now as a nation at this very moment and not based on their past history. Then the next step would be to tell then what non-England parts of GB really prefer for their own future within the GB. This should be followed by how other members of EU look at them and why. Then and only then, they should decide about the options available to them for Brexit. They are smart people but working with wrong data.

  5. There false equivalence is the cause of the world’s disruptions. Brexit, climate change, evolution, and equality conflicts arise from emotionally driven abandonment of reason that is given equal time with reason. Strangely, giving permission, or license to everyone’s opinion has escalated to the point of absurdity. Opinions not based on facts and evidence have no place in public discourse. Such opinions should be confronted and dismissed. Instead dangerous opinions like Brexit and science denial and most of Trump’s claims are given air time as if they had some equal footing with facts and evidence. This is so juvenile that rational people have turned it all off. The consequences threaten civilization. Mr. O’Brien is doing hope to rational thought. Brexit and Donald Trump were “sold” to an unsuspecting public based on lies, propaganda, and the efforts of Russia to overthrow the west. Someday soon, articulate, prepared persons will step forward and denounce false equivalence and demand justice. Persons and parties that promote hysteria, irrational dangerous lies should be halted before they can arouse an audience of compliant sheep ready for sheering. Censorship? Science denial should be censored in all public and all rational conversations. Who should decide what are scientific facts or evidence or what is rational? The dictionary would be a good starting point. Any point of view that “comes from the gut” is definitively irrational and demonstrably dangerous.

  6. @Joseph Huben i agree "Science denial should be censored in all public and all rational conversations" good luck with that. the alternative is to ban mathematics perhaps lol

  7. @Joseph Huben: What's really scary is the total GOP buy-in to Trump's lies about everything. I watched Bill Maher's episode from last night and this yahoo named Jack Kingston was one of the panelists. He was rude, obnoxious, and talked all over everyone, including Bill. Most of what he said were exaggerations and outright lies, and like all GOP bigmouths, his voice got louder as the other person tried to explain his/her viewpoint. I think all of the GOP supporters, politicians, and media personnel go to some sort of cult training school and take Rude 101 as a way to get their propaganda message out there.

  8. We need a version of this gentleman in the United States explaining to Trumpers that facts matter. Newt Gingrich and Roger Ailes decided years ago that they were going to appeal to the feelings of conservatives, nevermind facts. If they could win on feelings than they win. It seems like they've been rather successful to date as the right use misinformation that helps to make them feel the way they want them to (usually fear) as opposed to arguments of fact.

  9. @chalky: I agree with you, but you can't make people hear what they don't want to hear or see what they don't want to see. And it has been shown over the past two years that even if the deplorables see and hear it, they have amply demonstrated that they don't care. They love the Trump Show, period. Sad but true.

  10. Exceptional radio - an intelligent, well-informed voice and a rapier-like intellect. I listen on line at five every morning. He has a lovely sense of humour too.

  11. Not being British I am sure I do not understand all the reasons Leavers want to dissolve their relationship with the European Union. But I have the impression since before the referendum that outside the cosmopolitan big cities, it was mostly the influx of "others" - people who did not speak, eat or dress like Britons that caused unease. Leavers failed to relish the diversity migration provides. Sadly much of the US is taking the same turn. Briton's economy will suffer with the diminishment of London's financial center. Would it not have been better to stay in the economic union and pay a large fee to the Union for some ability to control migration? I do not mean closing down the border but slowing the flow to ease tension. Britain could offer to shoulder a disproportionate part of the costs of assimilation of refugees in the rest of the Union. Perhaps, with time Leavers could become less anxious and border control less restrictive.

  12. @mzmecz Ironically, many of the places which voted to leave have very low levels of immigration. The problems they have are, like in the US, those of marginalisation, disenfranchisement, and loss of pride. Old mining towns in both countries are a good comparison. Once well-paying, but in areas that had little else to offer economically, residents are generally a little older, a little less educated, with less chance to get away to bigger cities and the opportunities they hold. The big cities, on the other hand, which have understandably had the largest influxes from abroad, voted to remain. They've seen the benefit of immigration because they've also seen the benefits of everything else. Their environments have remained vibrant hubs of novelty, thriving with change. The Leave vote is largely (in my opinion) a response to being ignored by politicians for a couple of generations. When an opportunity came to poke both parties in the eye at the same time, that was too good to turn down. Sound familiar?

  13. Leave is the meeting point for many dissatisfactions within the UK. Some of these things ordinarily would not be compatible, but are unified in their solution to their respective problems: Leave. In short; sovereignty, business, finance, economy, austerity, nationalism, xenophobia, immigration, change, political frustration. All with different segments of voters often from completely different demographics, from rich to poor. This probably explains why finding a middle ground is so difficult; Not all Leavers want the same things (a Leave businessman who wants free of EU regs still wants migrants as a workforce - which is not want the anti-immigration Leaver wants, for example). This is of course before you factor in the 48% who voted against it, and thus you have the makings of a debacle.

  14. This is spot on. The latest in depth social and economic analysis of Brexit shows that 3 million people, and possibly more, were influenced by the very factors mentioned. These numbers interestingly coincide with the Leave majority in the referendum.

  15. The key question I'm taking from this article is, as is stated, if I'm not mistaken: Why has politics in the UK, America and elsewhere it seems, devolved into tribes. The answer to me is now quite obvious: Change has come too often and too fast for many people around the world in stable countries. So when those not ready for change get, what they feel, slammed with yet another social or economic change, they bite back with a huge change of their own. Almost always designed, at least in theory, to take them back to the past - when things were perceived as being better. I know it's tortuous for those in the Western nations and a few elsewhere to watch civil rights, environmental rights and other forms of necessary progress become stagnant so there should always be a strong push to resolve these age old issues but just remember the backlash by those not ready or capable can be overwhelming in their destruction or rather deconstructionist vision.

  16. @Clearwater And capital, and with it influence, has accumulated in too few hands. A solid-paying job for a high school leaver is now dead, and with it the aspirations of anyone who, for whatever reason, doesn't go to college. If you're hard working and want to work with your hands, you've been stuffed.

  17. @Mike agreed

  18. James O'Brien is a warrior for the Truth. He regularly points out the flaws in Leavers' arguments, but he has not persuaded many to switch from Leave to Remain. Brexit is a vast chasm of ignorance. We need to revisit democracy when it produces such a suicidal decision as brexit. As with the driving test, there should be a minimum requirement of knowledge and ability before a person is allowed to vote. And people should be allowed to vote from age 15 or earlier as it is 'their' future. And maybe over-70s should not be allowed to vote at all.

  19. @Kevin Harrigan excuse me! Why should over 70s not be allowed a vote? Some of us have been avid supporters of the European Communities for over half a century, have taught 2 generations about the EEC and the EU, and voted Remain from a far more knowledgeable standpoint than the majority of voters in the country.

  20. @Kevin Harrigan "We need to revisit democracy when it produces such a suicidal decision as brexit. As with the driving test, there should be a minimum requirement of knowledge and ability before a person is allowed to vote." The no-Brexit crowd - your favored side - wasn't even bright enough to understand the need to show up at the polls at the moment of truth in 2016. They already failed your test, Kevin.

  21. Watching James O'Brein trying to talk sense into somebody, where facts don't matter is as frustrating as watching (and listening to) 110 million Americans state that Donald Trump is doing a fabulous job as President of the United States. Its very, very frustrating. I feel his pain.

  22. @Richard Gordon I've not listened to Mr. O'Brien, but I'm sure I too would feel the same as you, Mr. Gordon. Fortunately, my work as an executive coach in psycho-linguistics tells me that tribal politics among English-speakers can be averted. Inside us all is an "I am ..." statement and it's the driving force of our systems of reactions to any argument. To be rational, we must examine the "I am ..." statement we learned in childhood, That, of course, is the purpose of education. But patterns of English language we learned at our mothers' knees such as our "I am ..." statements are the origins of the tribal politics now engulfing both the UK and the US. In the world of psycho-linguistics "I am ..." statements are called "I am whatever" (IAW -- pronounced 'Eeyore') statements. AA Milne, the author of Winnie the Pooh books and an acute observer of humans in the early stages of learning to speak and think, called his donkey 'Eeyore' because donkeys can't change their inner IAWs. Human beings can, however. Once we do learn to examine our inner IAWs, we can learn to change them, and then rational problem-solving conversation can begin with such admissions as "I am experiencing X emotion now". Proof of this welcome development can be found at this link: http:/ Knowledge of the practice described there is growing and, when that happens, astoundingly good things follow. Perhaps Mr. Segal can pass this link to Mr. O'Brien ...

  23. Trump pushed Brexit for Britain, at this point it's surprising that anyone still doesn't know that it is a poor idea founded in racism and xenophobia.

  24. JOB is fantastic! Both witty, accurate with the politics, rights and facts and also excellent at asking the larger questions about society and pointing out its contradictions. He is also hilarious, and makes good comfort food when one is feeling particularly angry at events or individuals. He’s also quite fair, definitely no fan of Labour either. If you can find it, look up his conversation with Rory Stewart MP (also an interesting chap). Two grown-ups having a fascinating debate. My only gripe is he can come off as a bit self-satisfied and unmerciful in his dismantling of the parade of angry Brexiters calling in who utterly HATE him. It’s not good when at some point we need to put the broken pieces back together, and maybe sometimes it’s sensible to bite one’s tongue rather than detail point by point exactly how and why they’re utterly wrong.

  25. Brilliant review of James O'Brien and his programme.

  26. Hard to imagine in USA you say? Isn’t this a lot like The Majority Report?

  27. @Joe No. The majority report is not a calm and measured as James is, also not as quick off the mark. Sam Seder is American, and he and his crew yell and shout like Americans do, and generally put people down on a personal level like Americans do. James picks out your points of argument and runs with those, whereas Seder will just say 'Trump voters are stupid' etc etc. Americans are all about personal attacks.

  28. "It might be the most English genre of all viral media — radio arguments — and it’s hard to imagine them catching on in the United States." However, one can hope.

  29. They say people tend to vote not with their brains, but with their stomachs. To Leavers, getting out of the EU just feels good: it feels good to retaliate, to strike out on one's own, to make others suffer. Same with Trump supporters, making America great "again." It's sad, and infuriating, to see a great nation stake its future on lies, misconceptions and irrational nostalgia. Neither Trump nor any of the Brexiters could care less about their supporters' future and livelihoods. They just want to show their power.

  30. It sounds like Mr. O'Brien is pursuing a noble but hopeless cause. I sympathize, but facts are no match for emotion, however misplaced. Unfortunately, it may well be the reality of leaving without a deal that will provide the antidote to the Leavers' passion. The economic pain will be severe and very real. Perhaps it can only be then that the whole matter can be revisited in another referendum.

  31. The point is that 'Leavers/Brexiteers' will not acknowledge the economic crash that will result is a result of the UK leaving the EU.

  32. @Applecounty Until they experience one.

  33. @Rick Morris Nah, then they'll blame it on those dastardly Europeans. Sorry, but they'll never accept that they were wrong. Never. As in: NEVER.

  34. Donald Tusk, president of the EU Council said yesterday there's a special place in hell for those who have encouraged Brexit without a plan. Mr. O'Brien is determined to navigate this purgatory of pre Brexit anxiety every day. Kudos to him for attempting to break the trance-like march over the cliffs. Meanwhile, Theresa May shuttles to and from Brussels clearly for the photo ops--she's not getting anything else out of it. What's maddening is to realize the whole referendum is NON BINDING. It's all made up. The whole thing. A second referendum would be equally non binding. It's an exercise in futility. It is parliament that will make the ultimate decision. That's why it's called a democracy.

  35. @Lillies: the referendum was not binding, but Parliament DID vote on this, two years ago and accepted the referendum as the will of the people.

  36. Proper article title: FIGHTING DEMOCRACY Remoaners are the drunk party guests who just. won't. leave. If the EU is so great, move there.

  37. @Charles - The problem is, the result of the referendum has taken freedom of movement away from 66 million British citizens. We’ll no longer just be able just move freely from the UK to France, Germany or any of the other EU countries just as someone from Alaska might move to Florida, California or New Jersey.

  38. @Charles if 90% of the country had voted to leave, you might have a point. But it was barely over 50%. Obviously half the country isn't going away.

  39. @Charles That's just pure ignorance. You know how many Poles, Romanians, French, and Germans are in the UK? Lots. Half of their healthcare system, the NHS, is made of foreign, European, physicians—all of whom are now having to leave.

  40. Throwing a little truth onto the dumpster fire called Parliament: 1. Membership in the EU is better than any of the alternatives, period. 2. The Brexit Tories will do anything to achieve Brexit, up to and including carpet bombing Brits economically, something like Bashir al-Assad. They are doing this to conceal, protect and further offshore interests the EU crackdown on tax avoiders. They have formed what is truly the most divided, incompetent, venal and mendacious government since Lord North and George III. They've even encouraged widespread racism and xenophobia to gain their ends. They promote pompous delusions of freedom from geopolitical and economic fact. As a result Britain is a now a world-wide joke. 3. Worse is the fact that there is no focussed opposition to stop this madness. We Britis are going to find out the price of their shabby delusions and we will pay. But they won't. 4. Brexit threatens to paralyse the working economy and thereby choke off public services, including health and education, creating a mass of ignorant, desperate people primed for servitude, exactly like Trump's base, a worthy goal for some apparently. The British media are entirely complicit in this. 5. What an opportunity for Labour, one might think. Not, apparently, when dotards rule. The main problem for Britain now is Corbyn. Wake up Labour and dump him. He's useless. 6. Britain must express itself legitimately, now there can be no doubt what is at stake. Another referendum, please.

  41. Congratulations on the well-deserved attention, James. We've been listening since 2012 and really enjoy your thoughtful and well-informed commentary and the Socratic way you try to draw listeners toward your conclusions. It's a welcome counterpoint to the shouty talk radio on the one hand and non-interactive news on the other.

  42. @D. Green In countries across the globe, people who object to globalization, multilateral trade agreements, and human rights for all, are afraid. They fear that their status as the 'favored political cohort" is disappearing. In fact, what is happening is that people of color and other minorities are demanding their rightful place at the table. For the most part, these easily-manipulated voters do not have the energy to seek out a balanced variety of news sources and are emotion-driven. Until catastrophe - on a personal level - strikes them, they have no motivation to seek out facts, understand candidates' positions, or study serious news articles about complicated subjects such as the Brexit referendum. There will always be more uneducated voters/screamers than educated.

  43. Delighted by this well deserved recognition in the NYT. Just a little apprehensive he will now be enticed to the US.

  44. @Didi S Oh, not to worry. The biting satirical humour, as it is spelt in the U.K., wouldn't fly on a three hour radio show everyday over here. Our radio talk shows are chock full of inanity, insanity and feature a rampant lack of intelligence. We call it hate talk. It foments hate.

  45. Just a guess, regardless of what O'Brien argues, a no deal Brexit is just about certain at this point. The future will then be decided by a new crop of "Leavers" and "Remainers". Namely the Scots who will vote to leave or remain in the United Kingdom and those in Northern Ireland who may vote on the same issue. Maybe Wales will decide to go in that direction also. Great Britain may not be so great in a decade.

  46. There needs to be a no deal Brexit, if on to teach these people a lesson that votes have consequences.

  47. Fighting talk while you live in the US Frank, but I wouldn’t totally disagree. The problem here in Scotland is at least two fold, firstly 62% voted Remain and secondly many health centres, community help schemes, road infrastructure etc is funded by EU, when that goes.... will a Westminster Government short of funds replace these services for our Priority Groups in Scotland who didn’t vote with them... rhetorical!

  48. I predict that Scotland will vote to leave Great Britain and remain in the EU. Not sure about the mechanics of that move but it is coming I think.

  49. @Frank Ramsey The problem with this idea is that everybody gets hurt. Then there is a lot of resentment, an economic downturn, and the Leavers will never acknowledge that this is their fault anyway. Finally the UK will not be allowed back in the EU for a long while, if ever.

  50. Just one small point. Farage was not a future brexiter in 2014. He founded the anti EU party, UKIP, in 1993 to campaign for the UK to leave the EU.

  51. @Tim The same EU from which he'll receive a generous life-time pension as he enjoys all the benefits of his German citizenship. A more loathsome hypocrite in this national suicide would be difficult to name.

  52. @Tim He didn’t found UKIP. That was Alan Sked, who was, I think, more moderate in his political views. He felt Farridge hijacked it.

  53. I have long believed that the real aim of Farage, Johnson and rest is to tear up the British welfare state and the fiscal structure that supports it. A no-deal Brexit = economic crisis = fiscal crisis = calls for austerity on steroids. Any thoughts?

  54. Jeff... there are competing views that the real financial elite bet against the value of a falling GBP in exchange rates, and the quest for zero tariff, zero rules imports means the UK elite owned companies in poorer countries can impose the usual dangerous working practices, low wages etc that they couldn’t do in Europe or US.... I couldn’t possibly comment!!

  55. @Alan Harvey They clearly do not understand how the bureaucracy of the WTO works then. All 159 countries have to be eligible for a deal, all can veto it, and a typical deal takes eight grinding years. BTW, what has the UK got to export? The thuggish days of the British East India company pushing cheap illegal Opium into countries (in exchange for silver) are well and truly over.

  56. @Jeff - Good article by George Monbiot in today's Guardian about disaster capitalists circling like vultures, waiting to land on the stricken corpse.

  57. I prefer listening to this host--and most of this UK radio station, LBC--than US stations, which is where I am from. The approach is both intelligent and quite different than American counterparts. Generally speaking, the radio host challenges everyone right from the start, asking direction questions to counter their argument. The same approach goes for interviews. The result is no "filibuster" or spouting lies sentences at a time by the guest or caller. Interestingly, Farage is most like American hosts, and is most aligned with Trump.

  58. The importance of the role LBC and precious few other broadcasters here in DisUnited Kingdom play in the Brexit debate cannot be minimised. Whether or not you agree with the style of broadcast, it is a welcome change from the BBC/ITV majors whose attempts to walk a middle line may well be judged historically as fiddling while London burned... at best. Looking back in both US and UK, we may well wonder why and when the Grand Age of Information became the Age of Disinformation instead. For that singular reason we need factually accurate, open to all Freedom of the Press and Media. Thank you James O’Brien and Editorial Staff.

  59. I have been in a hotel in Sunnyvale, CA not so long ago. I chatted with the employee at the restaurant and was a little bit shocked when she told me that she needed a work permit when she wanted to work in any other country than the US. Most countries would ask for academic degrees as mandatory qualification or a wealthy filled bank account. After I told her that having one of the EU citizenships I have the right to work and stay in any EU country I want she couldn't believe me. "Without visas and work permits?" I answered "Yes sure". That is exactly what the UK will lose. The UK will become a small US and its citizens will need work visas/permit if they want to work and live in another country of the Europeans continent. And so many UK voters voted for Leave applauded to that. Do they think more people will be forced to stay in the UK "for national benefit"?

  60. Thanks for reminding us Pascal... very many Scots like myself regard themselves as Scottish first, European second, and rarely if ever British. We voted 62% Remain.

  61. @Alan Harvey my big hope is that Scotland will take leave of the English UK (FINALLY!) and will put into effect a citizenship through ancestry, similar to the Republic of Ireland... i find Scotland's social, moral and economic vision far more compatible to my view of the world, than even the country i'm from. If this ever comes to pass... sign me up! My Scots grandparents would love it.

  62. Irrelevance of facts and false equivalency are the new cognitive dissonance and rationalization disorder. It is very probable the Russians fully succeeded in brainwashing half the population of their two greatest adversaries.

  63. @Tim I met two old people in France recently. Both voted for Brexit and both had been coming to France for decades. Their augments were straight from the daily mail tabloid. Critical thinking is sadly lacking in the Anglo Saxon world.

  64. Such a breath of fresh air listening to a calm, sensible, yet dogged pursuit of truth. Sad that it doesn't seem to make a difference. My first thought is that we should clone him to talk sense into Trump supporters; my second is that it would likely fail in the same way that he's failing to sway Brexiteers. I was also shocked by the clip with Nigel Farage—how amazingly evasive and slippery he is. Not shocked by him so much as that people salivate to those kinds of dog whistles. Of course this is the same man who swelled with pride and called Donald Trump 'a great silver-backed gorilla' after one of the 2016 debates. I fear for our world.

  65. The EU claims to have brought peace, growth and stability to Europe. It looks increasingly unstable, its economic growth has lagged all other major trading blocks for decades and for peace, correlation does not imply causation - you guys (Americans) probably had more to do with it. There are opportunities for Britain free from the suffocating control of Brussels. The doom forecasters are the same folk who have forecast doom previously and been wrong in virtually every case. Of course there will be negative consequences but we Leavers believe they will be overcome. It amazes me that more Americans don't value freedom and democracy more highly, except they probably don't know much detail about the issue. Some of us will be surprised if the EU even exists in 5 - 10 years, given the situation in Greece, Italy and other countries. I have written a brief summary of why I believe the EU is a false (but persuasive) ideology and there are plenty of link to detail and sources if you're really keen. Maybe I'm wrong but I doubt O'Brien could persuade me:

  66. @Nick -- OK, I read your blog piece, and it reiterates many petty grievances but it doesn't address any of your major contentions. My problem with your position is that all the original claims about how great Brexit would be are now exploded, you admit "of course there will be negative consequences but...It amazes [you] that more Americans don't value freedom and democracy more highly, ... Some of us will be surprised if the EU even exists in 5 - 10 years, given the situation..." That's pretty crazy blarney, and entirely unpersuasive. And on top of that it's pretty insulting for you tell us well don't value freedom -- remember mate that we fought a revolution to through you out. A relatively salient point in the USA is that we have the Trumpers, whom a lot of us despise and would really like to have nothing to do with ... but we are gritting our teeth rather than deciding that we are going to rip the USA apart. We figure it's better to hold the country together and wait for the Trumpers to die out ... that they seem to be doing. There are very few Trump supporters in those under 30. Now your problem is that the polling in the UK shows that your under-30 population is substantially against Brexit ... so your goal is to rip the UK out the EU while you have the votes (maybe) even though your younger people don't want to.

  67. @Nick You'll have to do more research on the EU economy which is quite successful and certainly has not lagged behind other 'major trading blocs' which you forget to mention!

  68. @A. Brown I have done a lot of research, much of it is there if you follow the links I provide in the blog summary. We cannot re-run the last 40 years and prove what the economic outcome would be for Britain - or Greece, Italy, etc. - but there is trend evidence suggesting the EU is a relative laggard. You haven't recommended any contrary research, just asserted an opinion. What is its basis?

  69. You can't refute 'populism' with logic. 'Populism' is grounded in emotion--fear--and using logic is a useless waste of time. If emotion-based populism declares the moon is made of cheese, then it IS. Period.

  70. I think the UK is mad to leave the EU and I'm glad there is someone quoting facts, but James O'Brien is the worst sort of debater. He doesn't give the people who call in a chance to finish a sentence. No wonder he doesn't convince them! He just annoys them and probably makes them hate the Remainers even more, leading to a strengthening of their Brexit position.

  71. @MJ I disagree. You must NOT allow someone to spew lies and false jargons and not confront them. A good interviewer stops that in their tracks. Once you allow lies into the conversation, the conversation is over.

  72. @Anabelle How does one know if a person is lying if one doesn't allow that person to speak? Why not allow the caller to finish and then show the lies for what they are? Reminds me of those who no platform the speakers from whom they dissent. Lies take root in darkness, they die when exposed to light.

  73. James O’Brien shows us that you can't reason with stupid. He has very reasonable thoughts. Most of his callers don't.

  74. Kind of weird watching an entire country commit suicide. Especially when Briton has a pretty good deal. So now all the people too lazy to inform themselves will be crying in their beer as they view their country becoming the runt of the Union. The levels of stupidity one encounters these days is astonishing.

  75. @The Iconoclast: it's not suicide, and the UK will do absolutely fine without the EU, which is failing anyways.

  76. @Concerned Citizen I think you are desperately wrong. Already there I see talk of 111,000 highly paid aerospace jobs being lost. 4000 car jobs just left to go back to Japan because they have a deal with the EU. 100s of HQ are now moving to the EU. Yes EU is not doing well right now but Britain , how much worse when we actually leave? This is a great big mistake. Lots of people harking back to a byegone Era that never was. Also it may well harbour a return to the troubles. For what? Freedom to become a vassal state of the USA. Not really my cup of tea.

  77. @Concerned Citizen No.we won't. Some will, the disaster capitalists. The EU are bringing in tax avoidance laws this year. Hmm. Trigger any alarms yet? The Dunning Kruger effect on half of the population.

  78. If Britain can secede from Europe then how can they complain when Scotland and Wales talk about seceding from them?

  79. @The Dog -- what's stopping Scotland and even Wales moreso is that their budgets would be a train wreck without the subsidy from England. Both have high levels of social support that would need to be cut back very sharply if the seceded and joined the EU.

  80. @Lee Harrison As a wales resident, I suspect the car crash of a no-deal exit will drastically reduce support for most regions of the uk. Most infrastructure in the area i live has the 'funded by EU' signs. I doubt England will match that level of investment/subsidy. Even if it could.

  81. @The Dog Save the Wales!!

  82. I love his show. I listen online and found out about him on YT where he is one of the very few voices of reason. I've learned a lot about how Brexit works just by listening to James.

  83. The moon? Not just cheese. Green cheese.

  84. ‘I once asked Rupert Murdoch why he was so opposed to the European Union.’That’s easy’ he replied ‘When I go into Downing Street they do as what I say,when I go to Brussels they take no notice’ Anthony Hilton,London Evening Standard. Thus 30 years of anti-EU stories in UK papers The Sun,News of the World (now closed due to phone hacking),The Times and Sunday Times....this man used his money from the U.K. to buy Fox News.This Australian now American mogul supported the Brexit campaign whose main slogan was ‘Take Back Control’ .....the irony is hilarious/heartbreaking.My country is committing this act of irreversible self harm thanks to likes of this appalling man.

  85. You can’t debate with “blind tribal loyalties”, so you might as well enjoy making fun of them. Nationalistic slogans and flag waving have led many a nation to ruin and Brexit will be no different. The fall will break the back of Empire madness and serve as a warning to others. The only question is how many generations will be sacrificed to drive home the point.

  86. @C. Neville No, you mean you won't debate because you have "blind faith" in your opinion. I urge you to take your interest up a notch.

  87. "The talk radio host James O’Brien generally speaks to callers in the calm, resolute tone of a guy working at a suicide prevention hotline." Because suicide prevention is precisely what he's engaged in!

  88. A man with a brain, using it in a constructive manner. He is pointing out to the nation that they are engaged in lemming type behaviour. Unfortunately, a significant portion of his audience are led by tabloid headlines in 60 point font. Once a sentence explaining brexit includes a comma most are lost.

  89. @John Nolan Unfortunately, we are taught from the cradle to believe that faith is more important than works. I'm a big fan of the Jesus of the Gospels, but this ability to dismiss reality comes from the Church (with a capital C) and far too many predators who take advantage of the power system, along with a whole lotta naivete. Reality? I don't think so. Rather have floods, fires, etc. at my dooryard first.

  90. @John Nolan Well John, judging from the support your comment gets, It would seem you are quite right. nothing to be done. The human species is at its primitive stage of evolution. Expecting more from the average brain than what it is humanly capable of, is rather pointless.

  91. @citizennotconsumer You appear to have entirely misunderstood my comment. I am suggesting that we all work together to solve our mutual problems, and I support John Nolan's premise. I'm just explaining that we are not good at acknowledging problems and getting together to solve them. We'd prefer to find somebody to blame.

  92. It never was about anything other than race - of immigrants, that is. Had they all been coming from Scandinavia or Minnesota, Brexit would not even have come up. We all know this. It is the elephant in the room.

  93. @citizennotconsumer Actually, among the most ardent Brexiters I have met have been 1) an immigrant from India and 2) and immigrant from the Philippines. Something about pulling up the ladder after you are on top.

  94. @citizennotconsumer : If you're talking about freedom of movement within the EU, most people who moved are white and christian (e.g. Poles etc). I wouldn't be surprised if O'Brien hasn't pointed this out on his show before.

  95. I am delighted to have been introduced to this wonderful, reasonable guy. Thank you! I don't have much hope that people brought up to think there is nothing more evil than a democrat will pay attention to reason, but I'm glad that reason is still sticking up for the truth!

  96. Perhaps the Brexit movement is a reminder of a simple reality. We need families, we need neighbourhood, we need towns, counties and nations that we, and no outsider controls. Profits do not care about International Borders. The economy of the U.K. is not going to collapse if Brexit occurs.

  97. @John Brown Brilliant John! I think that's the most succinct statement I've read of a deep truth. Government should be bottom up as far as possible. Life is not only about economics but the insuperable problems raised by experts are challenges to be overcome. There is usually another way, we Brits need to find it.

  98. @Nick Hi Nick, Keep up the Good Fight. I was born in London back when there was still an Empire and George VI was on the throne. You could actually walk where you liked and take the Underground and feel comfortable and safe back then. What is so wrong with putting the citizens of your home country first ?

  99. @John Brown You can still walk around and take the tube and feel safe. Perhaps you feel more vulnerable because you’re now an elderly visitor to London?

  100. After reading this piece, a recurring prediction remains... several years after a no-deal Brexit, UK unemployment doubles and voters castigate the government. Apart from banking, finance and tourism there are not many areas of their economy that are noticeably powerful and capable of resisting a downturn.

  101. @Mike M But maybe better than much of Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, ... France? Every Germany's looking at a little shaky at the moment. The EU has troubles for worse than Brexit and no clear way, or plan, to escape them. How soon before the Italian banks collapse (due to EU fantasy ideas) and spread contagion to the rest of us? What the escape plan (for Greece it was bailout delay, not a fix, but Italy is 10 times worse)?

  102. Brexit is a case study for how Rupert Murdoch controls the political debate in the United States via his Fox News channel and Fox News Radio. Murdoch's dislike for immigrants and the European Union is precisely the same formula in the United States. Similarly politicians in the UK and the United States are stampeded by Murdoch's propaganda to slash and burn international agreements and dislike people of color. Murdoch has plainly stated, "When I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice." In short this isn't about the best interests of the UK or its people this is and always has been about Murdoch's power and warped vision for both the United States and Great Britain. The Fairness Doctrine should be brought back for the damage Murdoch does to public debate is simply atrocious; he propagates hate filled hysteria disguised as fact----and it's not just for the advertising money. Believe me.

  103. @Zdude Doesn't Murdoch still own The Times (of London)? That paper's not keen on Brexit. Sky News isn't mad for Brexit either. Is No 10 doing what he wants I wonder?

  104. I'm an American living here in the UK and it does not surprise me in the least that nobody knows anything about Brexit because the media is absolutely atrocious. Head on over to the web pages for The Independent and The Telegraph, The Guardian and The Times, which are supposed to be the most respectable newspapers in the nation. You will see glossy front page articles about Meghan Markle and other frivolous celebrities, big fun color photographs of Jamie Oliver or Kate Middleton, click bait articles about some sensational murder and then, if you look closely, one or two tiny 200 word articles about 'serious' subjects (i.e Brexit) Listen to Radio Four (the British NPR). Some surface news in the mornings followed by four hours of incomprehensible radio plays and a Q & A gardening show. The number one newspaper in the country? The Daily Mail. Head on over to their site to see click bait produced at the very 'highest' level. Fiddling while Rome burns...

  105. @Luciano :Don’t think so. Let’s take a look at today’s (Sunday papers) front pages, if you can view it at this link: Times – main story is about child victims of dating apps but there is a Brexit story (Labour’s no deal ambush), bottom left, continued inside. Observer (Sunday Guardian), main story (MPs unite to tell May: sack Grayling for his ferry fiasco) is a Brexit story about a shipping company’s contract to supply extra ferries if there was a no-deal being cancelled (even though they have no ships). Telegraph – main story is about Philip Green as they’ve just won a court case against him. The Mail is going after Corbyn, given their view of him unsurprising, while the Express has a go at the speaker (Bercow) in a Brexit related item. As to Radio 4, the morning news show (Today) is 3 hours long and always has a Brexit related item on it as does the evening hour long pre-news show (PM).

  106. @Luciano Do you buy and read these papers yourself or subscribe to get behind their paywalls? Check the Daily Telegraph and you will find on average about 3 news articles on Brexit even when nothing new and remarkable is happening; of the usual 4 editorial comments 1 or 2 are usually about Brexit; the Editor's column is typically 50% Brexit related; the Business section will have another 2 or 3 articles at least; even the Sports section may say something (if it affects visas, say). If you're short of news and opinion while you're on our little island you could start here:

  107. @Paul Unfortunately, Today, edited by Boris crony Sarah Sands, usually has a pro-Brexit person being allowed to speak at length followed by a pro-Remain person constantly being interrupted by John Humphries. And as for Question Time...

  108. "But logic is of surprisingly little help in the epic, quasi-comical confrontations" . This sounds too much like the Political situation situation here in the US. Trump supporters, who have become detached from reality, exclusively watching Fox News, and worrying about violent migrant caravans even as they live in a Northern rural State, far from the Mexican border. But Fox News has convinced them that this is the greatest threat in their lives, not farm foreclosures, Medical bankruptcy, or worrying when you send your children to school if you will see them again.

  109. @skier 6 "detached from reality" means this is an emotional position and intellectual arguments do not operate in that realm. As I understand that aspect of neuroscience an idea that is vigorously outside of a well established world view goes in one ear and vanishes long before it is rationally considered. The ability to change your mind based on reliable evidence contrary to your established world view or position is a sign of intelligence. Changing your mind based on less reliable evidence (such as someone told you about a friend who made a fortune in pyramids) or changing it many times before breakfast is a sign of something else. In the US we barely teach civics let alone critical thinking, logic and other vital decision making skills. Too many voters have been failed by an educational system still structured to turn out sheeple for a bygone industrial age. This makes too many voters subject to emotional pitches based on what the voter wants. Not what they need. Not what can actually be provided. Just the dream of what they want. In the sunlight of reality that pitch is seen to be smoke and mirrors and the charlatan has already escaped. Farage, BoJo and donnie - charlatans all

  110. Another insidious reason for the destabilization of Western democracies has been the ongoing propaganda perpetrated by Putin over the past 15 years or so. I'm sure N. Korea and China are doing their parts as well. Enough articles and documentaries have been done since the 2016 election and the Brexit vote to show intel reports indicate this and is not stopping in our country thanks to Trump and the enabling GOP. There is a great documentary out there called The Brainwashing of My Dad. It sums up how many old white folks here are easily manipulated by right wingnut radio and tv shows as well as fake facebook posts strongly influence them to fear and hate.

  111. @Sheila Putin is not the main reason our democracy has been so weakened. “The Brainwashing of my Dad” shows the effect of right wing American propaganda perpetrated by people like Roger Ailes, Rush Limbaugh and Steve Bannon with the approval and participation of mainstream Republicans. Putin had nothing to do with what happened to this man (or some of my family members). This was going on for decades without Putin’s help. Remember how those media outlets pushed the insane story that the Clintons had murdered their dear friend Vince Foster? Republicans in Congress, as well as Ken Starr literally spent milions of our taxpayer dollars investigating that claim. (The man who aggressively led that bogus investigation for Starr was none other than Brett Kavanaugh.) Until recently the mainstream media has done little to counter the lies and smears from this propaganda machine. In fact they often they aided and abetted it. In fact in 2015 the NY Times worked with Steve Bannon to publish accusations from a book written by Peter Schweitzer whom Bannon had commissioned to write a book alleging the Clinton Foundation was corrupt. The Times published those accusations (e.g. Uranium One) which were easily debunked by other outlets. Putin has certainly added to the damage but his contribution was just icing on an already well-baked cake. Or maybe just sprinkles.

  112. I think I'm like most Americans in that I would like an understanding of the Brexit situation. The HBO movie, "Brexit", gives us an excellent, detailed, (and entertaining), commentary of how the UK was dupped into passing Brexit... then it ends minutes after the vote is tallied What most of us would like to see a list of the issues that the EU is demanding the UK adhere to for them to again be an independent country. This would be the most recent EU list that Parliment voted against. A second list we'd like to see would be the one Prime Minister May most recently presented to the EU. Then we could compare the lists and draw our own conclusions. One other bit of information that would be interesting is what are the legal procedural hurdles in the path of the "do-over" vote that many think is the answer?

  113. Cognitive & Neuro-Scientist have been making the case for quite a while that decision making, as in what to buy or who or what to vote for, is highly reliant upon the emotive sphere of the mind. Inside of all of us there is the intellectual sphere and the emotive sphere. The intellect is like the adult in the room, it can learn quickly, it can even learn from reading a book or from another person’s experience. The emotive sphere is just the opposite. It is stubborn, at times vendictive, slow to learn and can only learn from experience. This is why the choices we make, good or bad, are not easily reversed. There’s a Ted Talk of Simon Sinek floating around that demonstrates that markertiers & corporations are aware of this & use this to manipulate us into buying what they are selling. When Britain’s economy collapses, then a lot of people’s minds are going to change their opinions. But it won’t be contained to Britain. Economics thrives or shrinks at the margins. Brexit will raise transaction costs for both UK & EU & the ripple effects of that will in turn, reduce aggregate demand everywhere. Histrorically this is like watching Europe stumble towards the abyss during the Summer of 1914. In 1914 Europe was at its apex, the center of the world. The war that ensued made it dependent upon foreign (American) capital, & when that collapsed in 1929 & forward, turned Europe into dependencies of the flanking powers (U.S. & USSR). Ironically the EU offered a way out of that.

  114. New York times reader and def a James O'Brien listener on LBC radio. It saddens me to see the demise of British Politics at the current state it is in. James certainly brings a voice of reason to the airwaves in the UK.

  115. The Brexit process has been a masterclass in how to ruin your beautiful country in a few short years, shift the blame and watch the culprits leave the sinking ship whilst the rest of us look on in utter disbelief at the carnage, and wonder how such a crime against the people has been made in the name of democracy. The insult to our intelligence is very hard to bear. Surely, we must be able to correct our path? And yet many people it seems, have lost the capacity to think clearly and apply logic, or are so entrenched in dark places with out-dated and spoon -fed opinions that they may well be lost forever. Sacha Baron Cohen shows us it is not only in the UK where this kind of trouble strikes. James O'Brien is a rare breed, caring more about truth than being popular, although he is extremely popular with those of us who still dare to hope for sanity to return. He holds a torch and shines his light into the darkness. He exposes the lies and myths, and yet, still the crowds bellow for Brexit. I am so grateful that James works in his unique way, one of a band of honourable gentlemen and ladies who are brave, strong and can see and report the truth in these rabid times. May more be encouraged by their shinning example. Whatever the ultimate outcome, thank goodness I can tune in to his sensible rhetoric sufficiently often, and be reassured that if there is a slither of a chance for history to sort itself out before it is too late, then Mr O'Brien helped to make it so.

  116. I just wanted to say that I try to listen to him every day. His calm style of questioning, not allowing misinformation or platitudes and always digging for specific details unhinges many Brexiters. I have definitely modified my forms of argument and debate, listening to him. Unfortunately, carrying his style of argument forward does require one to be well-researched on a topic, another thing that most Brexiters do not appear to be. Brexiters have a great deal in common with Trump supporters, and I would advise Trump supporters to pay very close attention to what happens if (when seems more likely) the UK leaves the EU without a deal. I look forward to reading his book.

  117. Big fan of James O'Brien. Read his book over Christmas and am 100% on the same page as him with Brexit. I do have to limit the amount of time I listen to his programme though for the same reason that I left Twitter... the sheer lack of rational argument from the Brexiters twists my brain so much it ruins my day. I used to believe that rational discussion and establishing premises from which we build arguments would lead to people adopting similar understanding of the world. Where there was difference it was due to not having established the common ground sufficiently. This belief in rationalism and evidence based decision making is pretty fundamental to my vision of the world. Brexit and the rise of anti-intellectualism that it has spawned has undermined by belief that people are fundamentally rational. On, another note, while the story about him working in the menswear shop is good, his father was also a journalist for a national newspaper, The Daily Telegraph. Not saying there is even a whiff of nepotism, just that he grew up in a journalistic environment.

  118. The Daily Telegraph, a right wing establishment publication.

  119. @Snapper I don't know if I would classify The Daily Telegraph as a 'news' paper... more like what you wrap your chips in because that's all it's really good for. (That's hot chips for you Americans who don't speak proper English.)

  120. I listen to James every day. He makes excellent arguments (most of which are well known to us who wish to remain). The people who fall foul of him just look foolish as it is clear a lot of them do not understand what voting 'Out' will mean. Quite a few of them reel off the lines given by those who are pushing to leave but when James presses them for an explanation, they are reduced to stuttering indignation. Keep up the good work sir!

  121. I am not seeing a lot of discussion about what else the UK may be leaving at an EU level. Greece came close to bringing the euro to its knees and is not entirely out of the woods. Italy is taking agressive budget stances and has been of concern for a while and could take down the euro and EU unity in short order (just because the media is not focussing on the issue doesn’t mean it won't happen). France is a lower but continual level of concern for similar reasons. Poland seems to be moving towards Russia in its political behaviour and could become a conduit for even more Russian meddling-influence in future. There is a small but clear East-West fissure developing politically. Even allowing that the UK did not adopt the Euro, it may well be thankful in fewer years than one might suppose that it is not entangled in ever larger and more threatening crises that seem inevitable for the EU.

  122. Or not. Don't forget, it's also leaving behind over 70 years of peace with its neighbors, after centuries of wars.

  123. @Janet What about the rights of future generations to move freely in Europe and take degrees in Europe's great universities, what about the loss of EU graduate students in the UK, lack of recognition of UK certifications for those wanting to work in the EU - Janet what you seem to forget is that the current EU was in fact a creation of Margaret Thatcher - the EEC morphed into the open EU market at the prodding of the UK Conservative party. How easy to you think it will be to reverse 46 years of alignment - a staggering amount of work will be required. Vast expense to the British tax payer replacing all of the inspectors, certification processes, standards organizations, etc that are now shared across the EU. Monumentally short-sighted this. Pushed by the moneyed newspaper owning elite that don't want broad institutional oversight of their business and financial dealings - sold to a bunch of xenophobic right-wing nut jobs....

  124. @FiveNoteChord Just say it, Rupert Murdoch, the man who decides who governs in three countries across three continents, the biggest threat to world security in two generations.

  125. O'Brien is brash and bullying, he often 'plays the man, not the ball' (if you understand that saying in NY). When interviewing Farage he confronted him with once having been company secretary of a firm that failed – nothing to do with Brexit but intended to undermine his character. In a discussion about Boris Johnson he mentioned that he'd met Steve Bannon and this proved he was a racist – guilt by association (he probably met Bannon because he supports the Brexit cause). Interviewing Jacob Rees-Mogg he constantly interrupted – JRM is always scrupulously polite and answers all questions rather than dodge them. The slim majority that voted to leave was 1.7 million or 4% in favour of quitting the EU – some US presidents take office with less support. Americans proclaim their love of liberty but probably don't understand that the EU is autocratic, it is also heavily biased towards the Franco-German axis to the disadvantage of Britain in particular. Some other countries may have benefited and some have undoubtedly known worse government. The EU claims to have brought peace, growth and stability to Europe. It looks increasingly unstable, its economic growth has lagged all other major trading blocks for decades and for peace, correlation does not imply causation - you guys (Americans) probably had more to do with it.

  126. @Nick I don't believe the EU has lagged behind other Economies for decades. That is simply not true. For instance Japan. Yes China has outstripped it and so has India. But they have done so against everyone. EU growth has been sharper than the USA over a 30 year period. The idea of the EU being undemocratic is simple tosh. The idea of it being pro German is also untrue. Why does so much money flow out of Germany to support the other countries through aid not loans. Britain will be very isolated in a world of trading partners. I fear for Britain.

  127. @Nick You think Farange is in it for the best of Britain? Farange is one of Putin's stooges. I saw a news report where he was seen leaving Trump tower and 30 hours later entering the Ecuadorian embassy. He's part of Putin's cabal to break up and undermine the west. I don't know anyone who would hire Boris Johnson for anything. England is going to go into a melt down when it wakes up and find that all of its transaction cost for every thing it needs as an Island country goes through the roof. This is mass insanity on a scale not seen since Germany made Hitler its chancellor.

  128. The Brexiteers are NOT going to change their minds. They understand two basic facts, which O'Brien can't seem to comprehend. First, they see British culture as badly diminished by uncontrolled immigration. Second, they see that restricting trade with the EU will hurt the EU just as much (or more ) than it will Britain (Britain has a sizable trade deficit with the EU), and they are willing to take the consequences. Not complicated.

  129. @c smith So let me get this right, if I may? You are saying that because the UK has a sizeable trade deficit with the EU, the latter will be more hurt by Brexit? That’s a bit like saying that if Maine left the US, it’s the US that would be more hurt than Maine, since Maine has a trade deficit with the rest of the US. Convert your raw numbers to percentages and I think you’ll see a different picture. “Fog in the Channel, continent cut off” sound familiar ?

  130. @c smith I haven’t laughed so hard in a while. Thanks.

  131. It’s not true that people havent had a change of mind, many people who voted for Brexit have changed there minds. At least enough to switch it from a yes to a no by the same margin it won by. But that will not solve the problem of a country split with two vastly different opinions of the future. The country bumpkins will stick to their “keep England English views” as long as they live. Many of the no voters are ready to pack up and go. It will be devastating for England’s future if they do not remain in the EU. But many Brexiters do not care. It’s the best example of a country that wants to cut off their nose to spite their face.

  132. Hey Mr. O'Brien, welcome to Trump Country! The US has had the opposite of this kind of talk radio hosts for years (think Rush Limbaugh), who rather than a debate, indoctrinate. There is no convincing the people who have already swallowed their Kool Aid and are slowing poisoning themselves. To me this wouldn't be a problem except now those ill-educated, willfully blind -to-the-truth morons are in charge everywhere.

  133. Unfortunately, trying to reason with a Brexiter is like trying to teach calculus to your dog.

  134. It is hopeless to reason with anyone firmly holding on to their faith or belief which is not based on verifiable facts & evidence. They embrace superstition, fantasies. Like a magic wall on USA Mexico border. Logic and rationale are not their thing. Kurt Andersen has pointed that out in his book "Fantasyland" - A 500-Year History about America. Nevertheless, the world need more level headed people like James O'Brien to drown out the voices and tweets of cults. The whole world needs much better education in STEM: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Don't pin hope on miracle though. So just sit back and watch the pending no-deal Brexit, and may be another government shutdown in USA.