It sometimes feels like the British public rank a vote for Brexit as having as much impact upon them as voting to name a research ship “Boaty McBoatface”. You know, a bit of a laugh – sticking it to the man. Yet polling shows that in issue after issue we know that Brexit will be a disaster. The economic argument has been won. Yet 58% of voters think that Brexit will have no impact upon their standard of living. We live in economic-denial. We entertain a fantasy where we know that the economy will be poorer but it will be alright because, magically, it will only effect somebody else. Bremain camp have won every battle yet still look like they could lose the war against indifference.
Your own standard of living would (X) in the event of a Brexit:
Stay the same: 58%
(via Ipsos Mori)
— Britain Elects (@britainelects) June 1, 2016
When the referendum was announced I thought it was a big waste of time. Why would anyone in their right mind vote to trash the trade deal with our nearest and biggest economic trading partners? Why, by the same measure, were we not voting on membership of NATO, the WTO or the UN? However I was open to the arguments of what could replace the EU trist. After-all it looked like the EU might just steam-roller in the TTIP and undermine our democratic rights. What happened? On issue after issue the Brexit camp remained clueless about their vision for the glorious sunlit uplands of a UK after-Europe. When they wheeled out a handful of pro-Brexit economists it soon proved that their economic models had been debunked in the 1970s. Their case was sunk by, yes, the London School of Economics. Then key members of the EU decided that TTIP was not a great idea and kicked it into the long grass. Case closed. Or so it seemed…
No country can divorce itself from a successful trading partnership and believe it will improve anything. Membership of the common market is a reciprocal deal. Yet the argument in favour of leaving only frames it in terms of costs – there is never a benefit. The Working Time directive is always written up in The Economist as if everyone agrees it was bad legislation that cost British industry. They neglect to mention that Germany, France, Spain, Italy et al all have the same legislation. Hence the word “common” in common market. Even with that example Britain negotiated itself an opt-out which effectively gave the UK an economic advantage. Yet still we claim it somehow isn’t fair!
Even if were were sending £350 million a week TO Europe (we are not) the only number that matters is the NET figure, ie, what we send versus what we receive. Seeing as trade is good for wealth generation then the economic activity may well generate up to ten times that number of net worth in the UK economy. Nobody got rich by not trading. The number of organisations benefiting from EU funding in the UK represents a very long list. Pulling out of the EU won’t save you a penny, you will just have to find that funding out of diminished UK economy. We will all be poorer. Yet this has not stopped Brexit campaigners spending the money they “save” ten times over. How can anyone takes seriously the claims of the loony-Right of the Tory party that that would like to spend more money of schools and hospitals? Such utter populism bares no relationship to the actual views of people who would privatise the NHS in a heartbeat.
EU legislation presented as “threats” from Brussels are mundane attempts to standardise the market. Myth after myth has been drummed up by the media, each one as absurd as the last. You can even go on-line and see and A-to-Z or Euro-myths. The claims have been laughable and surely all driven by mindless xenophobia. We forever cry “victim!” There are no victims, we are all in the same team and bide by the same rules.
But this is the point isn’t it? Some people don’t like playing by the rules.
This is the rationale of the playground. The motivation for the OUT camp, in choosing to hobble the UK economy, is that screwing over the Brits is a job for the British establishment, not Jonny-foreigner. Cry sovereignty! All this at a time the UK is struggling to come out of a depression as bad as anything seen since the 1930s. A crash caused by our bloated Financial Markets and the Banks, not the EU. The unspoken problem about membership of any trading club is that it requires us to grant up a small part of ourselves to a greater good. So some on the political Right this is anathema.
The EU is a democratising project. Some see the granting of democracy coming at a cost to the power of a privileged few. Of course it is. All effective democracies erode centralised power. European Members of Parliament get in on proportional representation unlike the elites of Westminster. The Brexit campaigners continually point to members of the European Commission and cry that we didn’t vote for them. Well, guess what? I never voted for a single Whitehall mandarin either. The Civil Service is a mechanism of governance yet they have no voting power in Parliament. The European Parliament passes the laws, not the Commission.
The Brexit team do not wish to share their toys. They wish to preserve some notion of privilege and block these meddlesome outsiders from their preserve. Brexit is a pogrom. An undemocratic coup against all common sense paid for by a narrow band of very wealthy people with more money than sense. Brexit is the ultimate example of the 1% buying an election to the detriment of the 99%.
History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. Some are attempting to wind-back the clock to some mythical land of unicorns and notions of sovereignty that existed in some people’s minds in the 1920s. Or was it the 1950s? Who cares. To be against Europe is to be so very anti-modern. It is a rejection of progress. How we delight in our old-fashion-ess! The EU was formed shortly after World War Two in the realisation that the wars had to stop. Europe had to be bound together in peace through trading. It was very successful. To rip that up now makes no sense at all. The EU is so evidently a good thing that is has taken a tidal wave of propaganda and lies to make the public entertain its xenophobic nature. Richard Corbett MEP wrote a good blog that highlighted just a few of the utter absurdities of the OUT campaign.
Study after study has shown that immigration is an economic stimulant that has virtually no impact upon wages. Immigrants are more likely to be in work and more likely to pay taxes. They remain a massive boost to the UK economy. Of course the economy would be strained by mass, uncontrolled immigration but we are nowhere near that level. In fact the new schools, houses and hospitals that a growing population needs are being paid for out of the taxes and economic activities of the newcomers. They are no burden at all.
Turning back the clock now dooms Britain to join the third world and become irrelevent. It would be a betrayal of the entire enlightenment project. To vote for Brexit is a vote for obscurity. It will have far more serious implications and costs than some flippant vote to rename Britain “Silly McSillyCountry”. This is not the Eurovision Song Contest. It is time to grow up and reject the patronising lectures of the swivel-eyed loons in Brexit. They can choose to ignore reality and wear their tin-foil hats if they wish….
…but the rest of us cannot afford that luxury.