First published 22/06/2016
I want to use this post to get a few things off my chest. Most people who have an interest in remaining or leaving the EU recycle other people posts that align with their point of view. I am no different and where I thought something merited a repost – I've done it. Mostly on twitter, with a little on Facebook.
Anyway - as voting day looms, here are my closing thoughts on the whole affair.
Firstly, the pretext for the referendum had little to do with Europe. David Cameron offered to hold one as part of a deal to postpone Tory splits and arguments over Europe until after last year's election. The referendum was a bargaining chip in a rather grubby deal made inside the Tory party. With hindsight, he regrets this, as the continuing implosion of all opposition meant he would have been elected anyway.
For weeks, in the build up to the formal campaign it seemed like the facts will out, that people would make the decision on the basis of information. Being a rational sort, all looked good to me. People would make a well-informed decision. The clear and present shortcomings of the EU are easily articulated. The benefits are harder to pin down monetarily, but are substantial.
The performance of the Remain campaigners has been rather limp and incompetent. The Tory leadership have argued for remaining but you can see their heart is not in it. On other days, those same people would be harsh critics of the organisation they profess to support. The performance of Labour has been pathetic, but worse it has been late in coming. The biggest dent in the voting numbers may be due to Labour failing to take a position in time. Many labour voters have not registered or because of poor leadership, may vote "against the Tories" - but the wrong way.
The behaviour of the Brexiters has been disgraceful, disrespectful, undemocratic and frankly, un-British. With their distortion of fact, the fabrication of arguments, the rabid anti-foreigner rhetoric the Brexiters have adopted campaign slogans and arguments and expressed views that used to be confined to extremist right groups or oddballs like UKIP. No more it seems. The views that, when expressed publicly, meant you were kicked out of office or out of a mainstream party altogether have become mainstream. This is a disgrace and shames our political system.
It's a pretty sorry state of affairs.
So bear with me, and let me summarise the main issues from my own personal perspective. If you don't know what the issues are, look here here for an example list: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36027205
I'll highlight some of the facts and misrepresentations. These figures come from the BBC. Some people might argue the BBC is biased. I think the BBC, with all it's own faults (some of which mirror the EU's) is, when all else is considered - a rock.
The costs and economics of leaving. The gross contribution in 2015 was £17.8bn but the UK rebate was worth £4.9bn. £4.4bn was also paid back to the UK government for farm subsidies and other programmes. The net or actual payment is 8.5bn per year which amounts to 163m per week. Certainly not the 350bn quoted by Brexit. You can see in the BBC page, that Brexit argue that this net payment can be used to fund other things (but the Tories have shown no enthusiasm for this in the past). They have decided to lie, and everyone knows the bigger the lie, the more likely it is to be believed.
The net loss to the economy of disturbing, let alone leaving, the single market outweighs our payments many times over. In the period 30 May to 13 June, the stock market lost more than 300 billion pounds in value. The improving chances of Brexit caused a major exit from UK shares and Sterling. Shares have recovered as the polls show Remain to be recovering ground again. But given that a large proportion of all of our pensions are invested in the UK stock market, everyone with a pension in the UK suddenly became poorer - we're talking thousands of pounds poorer - at a stroke. Consider the numbers. Investors were 300 billion pounds poorer in just two weeks. Compare that with the COST of membership of 8.5 billion pounds.
We'd be INSANE to leave the UK. Of all the countries inside and outside the EU, only Russia and Donald Trump think Brexit is a good idea to vandalise our economy in this way.
The economic argument is one perspective. The statistics used to make a case for leaving across all of the issues are, when the rhetoric is peeled back, of only marginal importance.
Migration is the Brexiters trump card supposedly. If we leave the EU, and refuse to trade with EU countries on the current EU terms, much of our trade with Europe will be suspended. Typically, the largest companies exporting aerospace technologies, other high end manufacturing and services at scale could be forced to adopt emergency plans. Hundreds or thousands of companies might be affected and go out of business, or choose to base their business elsewhere. Many companies have been making emergency Brexit plans as a precaution. No future government could defend that situation. So we would have to do business with the EU on their terms. Terms which include free movement of people.
So leaving the EU would cause a chilling effect on our economy - it would be affected adversely but no on knows by how much, but make no difference to the numbers of EU migrants. To think differently is fantasy.
The so called loss of sovereignty doesn't stand up to much scrutiny. Whenever, we join any organisation - we hope to benefit by being members, and we lose a little sovereignty as a consequence. What have we lost so far? Only a few percent of UK laws derive from the EU. our most important ones (e.g. common law, tax, criminal, defence etc.) are unaffected. EU laws are almost entirely focused on protecting workers rights. These rights benefit all citizens of EU states. The only people who would benefit from losing these rights are owners of companies who wish to run companies along, what to most people would appear to be, Dickensian lines. Cruel, crooked employers who currently outsource work to other countries anyway. (Check out the Brexit employer supporter backgrounds).
These laws protect your rights. Why would you want to lose them? The EU, with our involvement and agreement define these laws. The UK judiciary applies them. The European Court of Justice exists to resolve inter-member disputes, or gross breaches. Doesn't that seem reasonable?
The same case for remaining in the EU can be made across all of the issues. Common sense says, it would be a foolish thing to do.
Enough - the facts don't provide much support to change our status in the EU. Michael Gove's astonishing suggestion that we can't trust 'experts' or anyone with an opinion whose view do not align with his are a corruption. People who our government employ to conduct research, act as guardians of our laws and economy are no longer to be trusted. The Bank of England is not to be trusted. The Institute of Fiscal Studies, not to be trusted. The IMF, not to be trusted. Our trading partners, inside and outside the EU - are not to be trusted.
Who the hell can we trust then?
Apparently, we can trust Newt Faced Loser Gove - most hated, incompetent and eventually fired Education Secretary. Or swivel-eyed over-ambitious Boris, known to be economic with the truth, always good for a quote or a laugh, rarely answering a direct question. Or most scary of all, Nigel Farage. The foreigner-hating, bigoted fruitcake, who is still under a cloud for fiddling his expenses whilst wasting the time and losing the good will of EU MPs.
Perhaps we can just trust the Tories? Those pillars of society, so desperate to get in to power they break the election rules in marginal seats to influence undecided voters with battle buses, parachuited-in ministers and creepy bullying activists. As for Labour - give me a break.
All in all, it's a rather public and embarrassing performance on all sides. Countries in and outside the EU look on, perplexed that we should so publicly exhibit the worst of our politics and nature and risk making the biggest mistake in generations.
For heavens sake, use your COMMON SENSE and vote to REMAIN, stop this madness and let's get down to sensible life again.
Tags: #EU #Referendum