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How worried should Asia be about Brexit? Here’s the number to watch

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There is an academic experiment that demonstrates the “wisdom of crowds”. It consists of placing a large jar of jelly beans on a desk and asking a classroom full of people how many beans are in the jar. Of course, no one has any idea – they have to guess by looking at it.

The experiment reveals that, even though individual guesses may be wild, the average or median of the many guesses usually results in a remarkably close crowd estimate of the actual number of beans in the jar. This exercise illustrates the wisdom of crowds over the power of a single individual.

For the moment, Brexit is in an infinite legislative loop with no majority for any course of action under the current party system. Yet, the British Parliament is developing a crowd process if recent murmurs are true of backbenchers taking things into their own hands to seek agreement outside the traditional parliamentary and governmental decision-making process.

It would be a most unconventional way to run the mother of parliaments, which prides itself on having a centuries-old unwritten constitution (Churchill would spin in his grave). But these are unusual times and convention has been shackled. Respect, decorum and protocol have been absent in the House of Commons chamber in recent weeks. We have seen aggressively personal attacks by both junior and senior political figures on the Speaker, John Bercow, from the floor of the House. While respect for the Speaker only recently dimmed; respect for and confidence in the........

© South China Morning Post