I’m just about to leave the country for a conference – and return just in time for the Bremain/Brexit vote on June 23rd. I wrote on the subject fairly extensively a few weeks back, so I won’t repeat what I said there. My position hasn’t much changed to be honest.
And I’m glad to be out of the country for the final week, to be honest. I’m fairly sickened by the tone of the debate (if it can be called that). By BOTH sides. The #LeaveEU political broadcast last night turned my stomach – utterly scaremongering about 77 million Turks plus a few other Balkan millions banging on our doors? The NHS totally doomed if we stay but utterly redeemed if we leave. What palpable nonsense! It is NOTHING like as simple as that. Purely manipulative, scaremongering propaganda. The Remain campaign has been similarly scaremongering I’m afraid, and shoved doomsday scenarios down our throats. I do think that Cameron overplayed his achievements in the EU negotiations earlier in the year (as I mentioned in the previous post). I’ve not seen their tv broadcasts, but I don’t hold out much hope for them to be honest.
No wonder people are jaundiced and will vote with their gut instincts. Which means it looks as though we’re going to leave…
I do respect many of the arguments of the #LeaveEU camp – democracy, sovereignty, localising governance and accountability. These are important issues. They makes perfect sense. I did touch on those in the previous post. The economic case for leaving seems MUCH more shakey (see the WaPo clip below, from yesterday) – but then again nobody KNOWS anything about what will actually happen either way.
And that is why I don’t think this should ultimately be a decision about economics. FAR too much is decided on economic criteria alone these days anyway. Vague and flimsy though this seems, it is about a cultural attitudes and atmosphere.
Which is why I still have a few questions hanging – if you know of measured Brexit responses, please link in the comments below.
- Why is it that the vast majority of world leaders, corporate leaders, economists want us to remain? Is it really a conspiracy of self-serving control-freakery?
- Why is it that some of those who most strongly supported the union of the United Kingdom (during the Scottish Referendum) are most vociferously opposed to membership of the European Union? I certainly do fear political union in the EU – I just don’t think it is possible in an expanded EU. As far as I know, that has always been one of the reasons behind British advocacy of expansion. Isn’t it slightly ironic that some of the arguments of the Stay/Leave camps in both referenda are identical, and yet advocated by the opposite people this time?
- What really is on offer to the UK that leaves? Are these claims realistic? And surely it WILL lead to greater tensions in our union, because the SNP has been consistently seeking a 2nd independence referendum? If Scottish people overwhelming vote to stay in the EU, but the UK votes Brexit, then Edinburgh will have all the mandate it needs to demand this. Why aren’t the Brexiteers really engaging with that question? Especially when they were the British Union’s strongest advocates? Far from being able to punch above our weight (if that is what we want in the world), we will be a rump state of England and Wales (with perhaps even Northern Ireland uniting with Eire relatively soon). Is that really what we want?
- Don’t let it be about personalities. You might despise Cameron, Major, and Osborne, Corbyn, Milliband and Brown, but they’re all ephemeral politicians. As are Farage Gove, and Johnson of course. This is much bigger than all of them. What I do worry about though is that a Brexit vote means much more than leaving Europe. It gives political momentum to a very small clump of fairly uninspiring politicians now, and an irrevocable trajectory for the future. The little X in the box next week will set the political weather for the UK for more than a generation.
- Boris is obviously a character, and I do find him funny from time to time. One or two of the things he did as London mayor (esp at the start) were quite good. But there are few moves as self-serving in recent political history as his decision to lead the Brexit campaign, having been a fairly strong Europhile for most of his political career. But as I said, I don’t want it to be about personalities. This is bigger than Boris. I can respect Gove’s position on this far more, since he seems to have been more consistent, and could easily have submitted to his friendship with Cameron to say and do nothing.
- But the general issue is that I really do fear nationalism. I do understand that immigration is a concern for people – especially when they lose jobs or face long-term unemployment. There are really big problems in the jobs market – but it is surely far too simplistic to scapegoat those problems on the EU? And if we do leave, we will have the issue of literally several million British ex-pats possibly having to relocate back here. Where are they going to live?
I do want to repeat that I do understand many of the Brexiteers’ concerns and fears. They ARE legitimate. They do require political solutions. It just seems to me that voting to leave is neither politically shrewd, nor does it offer a realistic, kingdom-minded solution. All I ask is that the few who were so rudely offensive to me after my previous post can find it in themselves to treat me with the same respect.