If you’ve already made up your mind which way to vote in tomorrow’s referendum, you might as well give this a miss. Italy are playing Ireland tonight and, frankly, that’s a far better use of your time. But, for the rest of you..
I read Paul Mason’s Leftwing case for Brexit a couple of days a go, and must say I found it a thoroughly enjoyable character assassination. If you haven’t already, I would advise you to do so, for the opening sentences could not be clearer:
“The EU is not – and cannot become – a democracy.”
In fact, I could just copy and paste the entire opening paragraph here and it would decimate much of what Remain put forward, certainly regarding such issues as protection of worker’s rights or respect for democracy. He goes further. He points out that austerity is not some wicked Tory scheme. It exists as gospel within EU law, and highlights how even if Jeremy Corbyn were to be elected, the vast majority of his policies would contradict EU law. Don’t believe me? Just look what happened when Greece tried the same.
I’ve never really understood the British Left’s infatuation with the EU. It is, and always has been, a rich man’s club. It isn’t interested in the plight of refugees; it actively cut funding to the Italian government’s Mare Nostrum program when it realised the scale of the crisis in the Mediterranean last summer, and sends EU taxpayer’s cash to countries like Hungary and Turkey with the express intention of denying refugees humanitarian aid and asylum.
The character Mason really assassinates, however, isn’t the EU.
His admission that he will be voting to Remain, even though he is a Eurosceptic, to prevent Boris Johnson from becoming Prime Minister, demonstrates how the Labour Party has exposed its flank over this referendum.
This is, in a nutshell, a surrender. Either Labour is too weak to stop the Tories, or it isn’t prepared to put the hard work in to do it; either way, they would rather sit in their ivory tower, sticking to their unpopular principles whilst ordinary people suffer at the hands of a conservative government and the EU.
If the Left had courage, they would realise that the EU hurts working people every bit as much as Tory governments do. Whether they choose to admit it, or just pretend everyone who says it is racist, mass migration depresses wages at the bottom, and massively increases pressure on local services. There’s no getting round that. It doesn’t matter what colour they are, what their religion is: controlled migration stimulates economic growth, but uncontrolled causes unemployment and serious social issues. Economics is fairly indiscriminate about these things. The left, and certainly the ‘intellectual’ side of it, prefer instead to shout names at and demonise the working class people who point all this out, than address any of it as a serious problem.
I seem to recall a prominent leftwing journalist writing a bestselling book on something similar… but his name escapes me. Funnily, I think he’s voting ‘In’.
They should also admit that the current state of British industry, almost irreparably damaged, is as much down to the EU as successive governments. The fishing industry is down to its bare bones, having once employed tens of thousands. Of course, to metropolitan elites, this doesn’t really matter. It’s almost funny. I mean it must be, for multimillionaire virtue-signaller Bob Geldof to have hired a huge yacht, and to sit in the Thames having a party, calling them all wankers, right? Yet those workers rights we go on about also don’t seem to have done much for British miners. Or shipbuilders. Or Liverpool’s dockers. Or, more recently, the steel industry. Tens of thousands are on zero hours contracts. So how exactly is the EU helping these people?
You may not want Boris Johnson to be Prime Minister, either. For the record, I think if we vote Brexit, that Theresa May will be Prime Minister. But if who gets to be the next PM is a reason for voting one way or the other, ask yourself, seriously. Would you really rather George Osborne than Johnson or May? That’s the choice you’re making, and it won’t just be until 2020. The way Labour are going, the Tories have that election tied up, too.
Voting to Leave would at the very least split the Tory party down the middle, negating the need for Labour to modernise in order to oust them from power. They don’t seem to have picked up on this.
My reasons for leaving the EU, however, are down to sovereignty and democracy, and not the next PM.
This is something which seems to wind people up, especially us young’uns. When I say this, the responses range from ‘what?’ and ‘who cares?’ to ‘we already have that’ and ‘what about the House of Lords, eh?’
The long and short of it is this. The mother of parliaments is subordinate to an unaccountable political body which we, now, have the chance to unchain ourselves from. Why would we not take that chance? The right to govern yourself, to make government the servant of the people, is something Britain has long held sacred. We fought a civil war for it. Suffragettes chained themselves to railings and died in prison for the vote. Men and women have fought terrible conflicts globally for the right to determine their own fate. Why should we be so keen to toss ours away? For the sake of what? A bit more short term cash? Not having to get Visas to go interrailing? Internationalist principles the EU doesn’t subscribe to? Your football club’s latest signing? Please.
The economic arguments are dangerous territory, as no one can predict them either way with any certainty. I’ll admit, I have no expertise in this area. When it comes, to expertise, however, I’d like to offer a suggestion. All the financial institutions telling us to vote Remain failed to foresee or forestall the global economic crash in 2008, or the ensuing Eurozone crisis. Many of the politicians telling us to remain were complicit in it. Many of the banks telling us to remain were the root cause of it. And many of the multinational corporations are the ones who use EU laws to not pay their taxes in the UK. These are also, incidentally, the same people who said Britain would sink without a trace if we did not doing the Euro.
I’m not Michael Gove. I’m not arrogant enough to suggest we don’t need experts. But experts are never impartial, and they very often do make mistakes.
Just today, the head of Germany’s CBI suggested that any attempt by the EU to stifle trade with Britain wouldn’t make sense. Can you honestly envisage the German government turning round and telling its business that they are prepared to risk trade with their largest single export market… out of spite? What about French farmers? Do you really think they’ll put up with being told their exports to Britain will be threatened?
Here’s my prediction: The UK will vote to Remain. Even if we vote Leave, Parliament won’t repeal the 1972 European Communities Act. We will probably have another referendum in that event, with new ‘improved’ terms put to the British people. But make no mistake, the issue will not, as many have said should be the case, remain settled for good. The EU is going to fail. Greece is on the verge of another bailout. The Italian economy is on the brink of collapse. Turkish ascension beyond candidate status will (disgracefully, in my opinion) cause a surge of ill-feeling in Northern European countries (though anyone opposing ‘ever closer political union ought to welcome Turkey’s admission). Europe’s collective economy is staggering towards a grinding halt. Her response? To continue down the unpopular, protectionist path to full federalism and full monetary union, with her eyes closed and fingers in her ears, as the poor of Europe cry out for change.
Now, however, the British public, once blithely unaware of the workings of the EU, have had their eyes wrenched open by David Cameron’s foolish decision to hold a referendum at all. They won’t close them again. Now their gaze will remain firmly fixed on Brussels.
They will vote to Remain, narrowly, this time. So the EU will assume all is well, and continue to push people to the brink.
Next time, it will be for good, and people will ask ‘why didn’t we do this sooner?’