Like a lot of people in the UK I am very frustrated at the result of the EU referendum. It’s not about being a sore looser or throwing the proverbial toys out of the pram just because I didn’t get my way. It’s because the decision to leave was largely based on a mixture of lies, a little England mentality, racism, blind reckless optimism and/or ignorance and stupidity. This referendum really mattered and some are only just realising that after the fact.
My Original Thinking
I had never really been a fan of the EU and my inclination was that the UK should get out. At least that’s what my heart and gut wanted to do; my mind was quietly saying something else.
Like a lot of people I had been listening with half an ear to the radio news bulletins; I also watched some of the TV debates. People complained, and rightly so, that there were too many claims and counter claims and not enough facts. The Prime Minister said that this referendum really mattered, that you mustn’t make a protest vote, it wasn’t just an election (an interesting and rather telling point). Something this important demanded my attention, so I put aside a day to do some online research.
In fact it took just under an hour for a sufficient amount of facts to be gathered and for me to conclusively decide to vote for remaining in the EU. It was clearly the only sensible thing to do. I had consulted both pro and anti-EU sites (were there any neutral ones?). Two things surprised me: One) How obvious what the sensible thing to do was, but also Two) The lies that were being told by the Brexit camp. Granted project fear, waged by the remain camp, was patronising and unhelpful, using guesstimation to try and predict an unknown future out of the EU; but they didn’t actually lie.
Rich Brexit Liars
The first thing that struck me was despite the rhetoric coming from Brexit about them being for and of the common people, how many of the main players were very rich establishment figures. So much for being anti-establishment. Not to mention the mixed motives behind their involvement – the raw ambition of Boris Johnson for example.
The Lies And Half Truths
Some key but false and misleading claims made by Brexit:
- £350 Million A Week Goes To The EU – Err no it doesn’t. Some points:
- Firstly this doesn’t take into account our rebate, which is deducted at source, i.e. some of the money doesn’t even leave the country. The rebate knocks this figure down to about £280m a week, or from £19.5b per annum down to about £14.5b.
- We then get back money from the EU to fund various projects in the UK. This reduces our net payment into the EU even further, down to about £9.2b per annum or £177m per week.
- The £350m figure quoted in the press related to 2014. The amount we pay into the EU varies each year. What we get back vs what we pay out varies also. On average for every £2 paid out we get back £1, but it has been as low as £0.7 and as high as £1 back for every £1.55 paid into the EU.
See here for more details.
- We Are Paying More And More Into The EU Each Year – No this varies from year to year, going up and down. 2014 was a bad year. Look at the table on page 18 (labelled as page 14) in the HM Treasury report.
- We Can’t Spend The Money We Do Get Back On What We Want – This is true but then these EU funds go to help the poorer areas of the country and to help with things like agriculture through farming subsidies. Are you saying we wouldn’t do this anyway. I thought not.
- We Pay So Much Into The EU – Oh please! Even if we were paying £19 billion into the EU, yes I know it sounds a lot, but not compared with the government’s total expenditure of £730 billion (i.e. about 1.5% of the total).
- Immigration Caps – The claim that they will take back our borders is either a lie or worrying. The free movement of people within the EU is not a requirement of being a part of the EU project, the union of states, but rather being a member of the single market. Most Brexit people want us to stay in the single market as that would be good for trade. However, if we were to remain then we’d need to accept the free movement of people, like Norway. Of course we could leave the single market but that would be bad for trade, possibly very bad depending upon how the renegotiations went. Oh and one last thing, approximately only half of the the immigrants come from the EU and the majority are migrant workers that return after a number of years.
- Ignore The Experts – They’ve Been Wrong Before – No expert is infallible, but who do you trust more; business leaders, economists and financiers or self serving politicians that are here today and gone tomorrow. Both have their selfish vested interests, the former want a thriving economy so as to make money for themselves, the latter want more power.
- We’ll Spend The £350m That We Save Each Week On The NHS – Oh no you can’t because we don’t send that much money to the EU in the first place. We also can’t afford not to fund those projects that the EU contributes to either. Further reducing what we could spend on the NHS. What ever was left would be a drop in the ocean as far as the NHS is concerned. Pure gesture or is that jester politics.
The Flawed Reasoning That Leads To A Vote For Leave
As Scott Adams once said:
You can never underestimate the stupidity of the general public.
Quite frankly, as the dust settles after the referendum, it is becoming clear that quite a lot of people voted to leave for pretty stupid or ignorant reasons; some later regretting their decision when the cold reality started to sink in. The time to google questions like `What is the EU?’ and `What does leaving the EU mean for Britain?’ is before you vote in an in/out EU referendum and not after it.
Also the political establishment is guilty, of amongst other things, brushing aside people’s genuine concerns about such things as immigration and labelling all people that dare to raise the subject as racists. One must be able to debate any subject. Should racism raise its ugly head then it can be dealt with at the time. Also the condescending, simplistic messages offered up to the electorate didn’t help either. If you treat someone like an idiot, after a time they’ll start behaving like one. Behaviour like this from our political leaders has certainly contributed to the stick it to them reaction in the referendum.
This is a heated topic at the best of times! I do have some sympathy with a number of the issues relating to immigration but leaving the EU is far less helpful than you might think:
- Control The Borders – As stated before, we would have to leave the European Single Market to regain control of our borders, not just the EU. EU immigration accounts for about half of the 300 thousand that’s been quoted in the press. The remainder are from non-EU countries.
- How Long They Stay – EU migrant workers have a greater tendency to only remain here for say four to five years when compared to their non-EU counterparts.
- They Take Our Jobs – Obviously this can happen as immigrants, on average, tend to be better educated than their British counterparts. But this does not mean that there aren’t jobs elsewhere. Statistics show that the only real negative affect immigration has is on people’s perceptions rather than on wages and the likelihood of finding a job.
- It’s Destroying Our Culture – True multiculturalism as it is today doesn’t really work. You tend to get little pockets of immigrants sticking together, understandably, rather than integrating into society. This leads to crazy situations where we have British nationals living in this country for decades who can barely speak a word of English; living quite often in some form of isolation as a consequence. Far better to have a society that is open and welcoming and actively encourages people of different cultures to mix and integrate, adopting the British way of life whilst retaining parts of their own cultural heritage if so desired. After all that’s presumably one of the main reasons for coming here as against some other EU country. Having said this, the above mainly applies to non-EU immigrants as the EU ones are more closely aligned with our culture. This means that we as a society need to embrace these people and take them in rather than distance ourselves from them.
- We’re Very Overcrowded So Let Another Country Take Them – Wikipedia says otherwise.
- They’re Taking All Of Our Benefits – EU citizens are entitled to benefits, as we would be if we went to another EU country to work. In fact most EU immigrants pay more in taxes than they get in benefits.
- Everything Is Put Under Increasing Strain – Yes this is very bad in many parts of the country. But it’s not the EU immigrants that are to really to blame but the decades long under investment in housing, schooling and other public resources. Our politicians are to blame. Also our expectations. Not every person needs to be housed in their own house. With an increasing number of people choosing to live singly, we need to rethink the idea of apartment blocks. Not the concrete disasters that were left over from the sixties but ones designed to be safe and modern with communal gardens. Other countries rely far more effectively on apartment blocks, perhaps we need to move away from the Every Englishman Owns His Own Castle mentality. After all people want affordable housing and nice communities to live in, the type of building in which they live is a lesser concern as long as it’s comfortable and suitable.
This article may be of interest.
A No For A Better Yes
Whilst this argument sounds reasonable, I think it’s fundamentally flawed. Think about it. Why would they give us a better deal? They are much more likely to say buzz off, or words to that effect. For a long time we have been the grumpy Uncle of Europe, promising at first, but now dragging our feet, complaining and generally not really wanting to be at the party. Why would they want to help us? They’re more likely to say good riddance and do their damnedest to make an example out of us to ward off others contemplating the same thing. Even if they did want to help, how could they give us a significantly better deal than the other EU member states; that would sow disharmony and instigate a possible breakup of the EU as states start demanding the same deal or better.
Bring Down The EU
Maybe this could trigger a rethink of the European project, giving rise to a much leaner more accountable Euro-Lite setup? Possibly but this would only happen out of the ashes of the old EU as those parties with vested interests in the status quo would fight tooth and nail to maintain their power and influence. The ashes scenario could happen, but it would take time, as governments would need to be changed via the electoral process, being replaced by ones promising in/out referendums. I wouldn’t want to gamble the future prosperity of this country on it though.
The EU Is Corrupt, Greedy And Undemocratic
This argument has been around for some time and not without good reason. I’m not going to state how corrupt or undemocratic the EU is nor the cases where the European courts have interfered with our own court rulings. This does go on to some extent, just how much is up for debate. Ok so what do we do about it?
Britain could exert her influence and try and change things, which is best done from within and not without. Inside the EU we could table amendments, build further alliances and change things, possibly quite radically. Yes we would need to be much more pro-active in the European parliament but that’s no bad thing. If we’re trying to do this from the outside then we have far less influence and access; we’re simply not that big a player any more.
As for the greed and cost of being in the EU, I’ve already covered that.
For the most part we are much safer working in close cooperation with our European neighbours. It doesn’t mean that we have to share everything, but breaking down barriers in order to work more effectively can only help.
Anyway the greatest improvement to our country’s safety would be to distance ourselves from US foreign policy; but it’s too late for that.
Ignorance And Stupidity
Obviously quite a few people didn’t really think this thing through. Some wanted to `Get the foreigners out’. Some, despite the warnings, still used this as a protest vote against the establishment. I can understand their hatred of the Westminster bubble and politicians, but shafting the country by taking us out of the EU isn’t the way to get your own back. It’s at a general election and by getting engaged in politics.
The fact that Google reported a marked increase in Brexit related searches the morning after the referendum is really depressing. Some were obviously too stupid to research the facts beforehand and too ignorant to know the truth and recognise the lies that some politicians were spinning in the media.
I used to be proud of being English. Not so now. It’s just embarrassing. Other countries are looking on in disbelief; partially because of the decision to leave the EU but mainly due to the reasoning behind that decision, sorry I meant to say lack of reasoning.
The irony is that the first people to suffer will be the low skilled and uneducated, as companies downsize and even relocate. The better educated and more professional workforces tend to have skills that are more highly sought after and are more able to relocate, possibly to other countries where English isn’t necessarily the first language.
So What Now?
A vote for Brexit was a leap into the unknown as against the status quo. Personally the risk was certainly not worth the small gains that we could get elsewhere. Which ever way you look at it, Brexit is into the unknown. As became evident in the days after the referendum, there was no Brexit plan and, as a country, we are completely unprepared. Hopefully, if we do end up leaving, then things will work out so that it won’t be too bad in the long term.
Of course the referendum result isn’t legally binding. Some argue that since joining the common market and the EU required and act of Parliament, then so should leaving them. Maybe during the ensuing debate they will decide not to enact Article 50. Maybe they will come up with some face saving deal and have another referendum. Maybe a general election will be called and a party offers a second referendum as part of their manifesto. Maybe the petition for a second referendum will gain traction in the House of Commons. Maybe the EU project will fail and out of the ashes comes a better system, one in which we can play a full and active part. Maybe some group will challenge the validity of the referendum based upon the amount of dishonest rhetoric that was banded about during the campaign. Maybe…
However very few of these things are likely to happen unless the general public take a stand and clearly indicate their dissatisfaction with what has happened. So write to your MP, raise more well crafted petitions for parliament to debate, stage peaceful protests; but make yourself heard before it’s too late. Make yourself heard through force of argument, positive conviction, passion and hope.
I do sincerely hope that we don’t leave. Deciding to remain and then becoming a more dynamic driving force in Europe, as Germany had hoped for, would have been a vote for a better future, a vote for hope.
If there is a second referendum then they should have a 60/40 percent mandate before deciding to leave, over 75% turnout, preferably some sort of EU knowledge test to weed out the unthinking voter (but then we probably wouldn’t reach our 75% turnout threshold!) and lastly an age limit so that people over say 65 couldn’t vote (this is a vote for the future, our next generation, pensioners will be the least affected).
Anyway good luck to you all.
These go to a dear friend, who goes under the nom de plume of `Titus Savage’. If any publication is interested in using his artistic talent then please make contact, giving full details, and I can forward the request onto him.