Subreddits like r/unitedkingdom, r/ukpolitics have many Remainers who loathe Brexit, and there're unquestionably more who aren't on Reddit! English cities have had protests, but why haven't there been protests in the UK against Brexit as grinding as those in HK?

Does "stiff upper lip" explain the more hushed protests? I would've guessed HKers would be more hushed, because it's safer to protest in UK. The British have unequivocally less to worry when protesting.

[China's courts] must firmly resist the western idea of “constitutional democracy”, “separation of powers” and “judicial independence”. These are erroneous western notions that threaten the leadership of the ruling Communist Party and defame the Chinese socialist path on the rule of law. We have to raise our flag and show our sword to struggle against such thoughts. We must not fall into the trap of western thoughts and judicial independence. We must stay firm on the Chinese socialist path on the rule of law.[5]

  • Front-line British police aren't armed. HK police have revolvers. Senior HK police have semi-auto pistols.

  • England and Wales have more vigorous consumer, employment laws. Employees don't have to worry as much about getting fired for protesting.

  • The UK's NHS and subsidized prescriptions can mean that protesters don't have to worry about injuries.

  • The UK acceded to the EU Constitution and ECHR. HK has the Basic Law, but acceded to no international human rights.


4 Answers 4


Brexit is more popular among Britons than what is happening in Hong Kong is among Hong Kong residents

There was a vote for Brexit where a majority of voters voted for Brexit, but there was absolutely no vote in Hong Kong for any of the things happening in Hong Kong.

To draw a parallel between these two events as if something that was actually voted on by the people who live there to do to themselves, is equivalent to a repressive Communist dictatorship externally imposing its will on people who don’t have any say in the matter, very much trivializes what’s happening in Hong Kong and the human rights abuses in China generally.

EDIT: Several commentors have decided to point out in various ways, that Brexit is not as popular now as it was before, that not that many people actually voted for it, and that the Brexit people voted for is not the Brexit that they got.

Those criticisms completely miss the point, which is that there is a fundamental difference between being unhappy about how a representative legislative process is working to answer a foreign policy question in a way that not everybody liked, as opposed to having fundamental legal and human rights being taken away with no representative process of any kind whatsoever.

It is expected any time there is voting, that there will be winners and losers. It is normal that some people will not like how a vote turned out, or that people will regret in retrospect how it was done. Brexit is an extreme example of this, but it should be expected. It is not expected or normal in Hong Kong or anywhere for an external army to show up to demand that you surrender your legal rights to a dictatorial process you have absolutely no say at all in of any kind.

  • 2
    "Every pro-China protest has fewer protestors"... Err... what? Why pro-government, pro-law people need to protest at all and also "outnumber" other protestors to validate their stance? People who are content simply DON'T protest. Plain and simple. Sep 1, 2019 at 2:58
  • "It is not expected or normal <...> that you surrender your legal rights" - the laws that limit what previously was allowed are pushed around the globe every year. It IS expected. Sep 1, 2019 at 16:36
  • @OlegV.Volkov I love how you edited out the part about the external army that was the relevant part of that sentence.
    – Joe
    Sep 2, 2019 at 0:36
  • @Joe because Chinese army is NOT external, no matter how you wish it. Sep 3, 2019 at 2:13
  • @Joe Local garrison is explicitly named "The Hong Kong Garrison of the People's Liberation Army". Yeah, the same army you just called "external". Please stop parroting your lying western "news" outlets, Sep 3, 2019 at 2:19

Too soon

It feels like people are still holding out for political solutions. The normal democratic way of doing this would be a Vote of No Confidence, followed by either the MPs choosing a new PM or forcing a new election. There is still just about time to do this, and people in the right positions are talking about it.

Obviously no Tory MP wants to dynamite their career if they don't have to; the choice between "food riots" and "make Corbyn PM" has to be forced upon them by the clock running out. But it's still an option to get out of no-deal Brexit without requiring street violence.

No material conditions

Brexit hasn't happened yet. The pound is down about 20% and there have been job losses, but the former has only indirect effects and the job losses are hard to definitively pin on Brexit. The potential transport chaos is still in the future, as is the question of what will happen to those EU nationals resident in the UK who have been denied "settled status" or may in the future be denied Indefinite Leave To Remain.

In other words, very few people are uncomfortable enough that risking taking a baton to the face feels like a good option.

No inciting event

All the previous really big violent protests have kicked off after some incident - an arrest, injury or death at the hands of the police. The 2011 London Riots triggered by the death of Mark Duggan, for example. So far this has not happened in mainland UK.

(The death of Lyra McKee in Northern Ireland has been a catalyzing incident for politics there, as has a bombing, but both of those have been blamed on IRA splinter groups and in any case the politics over there is very different and separate)


Brexit is (relatively) easy to reverse. The loss of Hong Kong democracy and self government would be difficult to reverse.

In case public opinion in UK swinging back to support joining the EU, it would be reasonable to expect that the EU would not put much trouble to agree with it. If Hong Kong loses its self government, China will not easily give it back; there would be even no independent Hong Kong government to fight for it.

Brexit is a purely internal affair (which affects international relations); the Hong Kong issues can be viewed as an imposition from China (which is technically not "another country" but can be viewed as one due to the singularity of Hong Kong).

Brexit consequences are expected to be relatively light when compared to; there may be economical hardships but nobody fears the loss of the rule of law, democracy or independence. That is what is feared that could happen in Hong Kong.

  • 4
    Not sure the current coup is that easy to reverse. If they get away with this then it will change British democracy forever.
    – user
    Aug 29, 2019 at 10:40
  • 20
    @user there is no 'coup' there is a legitimate (if probably extremely unwise) exercise of a well-established procedure being used to end a parliamentary session that has gone on for a very long time. I would argue that the series of lawfare and semi-obstructionist amendments have actually been far more damaging to British Democracy.
    – user19831
    Aug 29, 2019 at 11:50
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    The real damage was the Fixed Term Parliaments act; the government should have been able to make the Withdrawal Bill a confidence vote, and either it would have passed or a fresh election would have been fought on the issue. Instead the government can limp on despite not being able to pass critical legislation.
    – pjc50
    Aug 29, 2019 at 12:11
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    @user it is extremely unlikely they will succeed (I say extremely unlikely rather than impossible, as I believe the Gina Miller (not an MP) led lawfare judgement was incorrect (and before you say 'you're not a judge' three did agree with me ;-) ) . With regards to the amendments the way they went about it was clearly not in the constituents interest; hence we are where we are -all they did was attempt to put spokes in wheels rather than actually achieve anything.
    – user19831
    Aug 29, 2019 at 12:43
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    @Orangesandlemons people complain about pro-brexit MPs because they keep lying and changing their positions. The latest example being the long list of them who said proroguing Parliament was unacceptable, until Boris did it.
    – user
    Aug 29, 2019 at 15:58

The level of consequences is very different

All of the points in pjc50's answer, plus, a huge difference in consequences.

Depending on who you believe, Brexit will produce anything from "sunlit uplands" advantageous to the UK, to a plunge into severe recession - but while such economic changes may have serious effects on many residents, for UK citizens, at least, the basic tenets of the rule of law should continue.

In Hong Kong, what people are protesting is an abandonment of the due process that they are used to, and a change to a scenario where anybody can be removed to the mainland and be subject to the whims of the Chinese authorities.

That's a much bigger shift, if not for the country/territory then for its people.

  • 2
    I added some references. Regarding the "sunlit uplands", I assume you mean economic benefits so I added a source regarding that. Feel free to change them if it's different from your intended meaning.
    – JJJ
    Aug 30, 2019 at 5:01
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    Sunlit uplands refers to Andrea Leadsom's leadership bid speech in 2016
    – Jontia
    Aug 30, 2019 at 5:22

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