It’s a complicated story. Prime Minister David Cameron was continuing to have long term problems with so-called Euro sceptics within his party and an emerging threat of losing votes to UKIP. He thought a good way to quieten the Euro sceptics and minimise vote loss to UKIP would be to have a referendum on the European Union. This promise was made before the last election and was probably an important element in the Conservative win.
Most unusually, the Great British Public was invited to vote to Remain in the EU or Leave. We have never been invited to vote on other serious issues, like Hanging or Fighting in the Falklands/Iraq/Afghanistan wars or even declaring war in 1914 and 1939, so why choose this subject? The promise of a referendum was a device to save the Conservative party and most immediately enhance their chances of winning the last election.
Aren’t our politicians voted into power precisely to discuss and attempt to resolve disputes? Now, generally speaking, MPs are well educated and better informed than a large proportion of the public. If they’re not knowledgeable about a particular matter they work to acquire the facts and their advisers, including a large band of public servants, help them to understand.
There are some MPs I respect who stated that leaving the EU would be good for the UK. I don’t understand their reasoning. Very little has been explained concerning the outcome of their solution to leave the EU. It is difficult to find any factual basis for the assertions that we would be better on our own, without the support of the other nations in the EU, that our trading potential would be greater, that we would be able to regain control of our country and our borders.
Here are the ten points made by the campaigners for Leave.
1. Freedom to make stronger trade deals with other nations.
Apart from other members of EU we already trade with Russia, China, Canada, USA, Japan, South Africa, Algeria, Brazil . . . need I go on?
We’ll need all that rather illusory freedom since our EU departure means we will cease trade agreements with the whole of the European Union nations. Moreover, trade agreements take considerable time so it will be quite a while to get back to where we were before Brexit even assuming that such an outcome is possible in the long term.
2. Freedom to spend UK resources presently through EU membership in the UK to the advantage of our citizens.
This doesn’t even make sense! I think there’s a verb missing.
3. Freedom to control our national borders.
We already control our borders, possibly not well, but much of that is due to our poor Border Agency performance not Brussels. On the matter of immigration, Brexit is critical of the numbers but repeatedly fails to give answers about what they think are the right numbers.
4. Freedom to restore Britain’s special legal system.
A system so ‘special’ that is it full of outdated and anachronistic laws. EU legislation and policy is the main driver of UK law and policy in agriculture, fisheries, external trade and the environment. In other areas, like welfare and social security, education, criminal law, family law and the NHS EU direct influence is far more limited. Brexit fails to mention that the vast majority of these laws are wholly acceptable and we played a major part in their creation. Moreover, the move towards EU common law enhances trade since it reduces the complexity of commercial legal matters and cost. Brexit also fails to mention that leaving the EU will involve a huge legal task that will affect both Westminster houses with the obvious impact on time available for other important legislative measure and that all this legal retrenching will require civil servants with their host of expensive private sector consultants, mega quangos which the overtaxed British public must pay for. Recent press reports suggest that it will take ten years to unravel EU laws.
5. Freedom to deregulate the EU’s costly mass of laws.
6. Freedom to make major savings for British consumers.
The argument here is that British money from British taxpayers should be spent on British interests. We will no longer receive money from EU. The argument is pure blind assertion with no supporting evidence.
7. Freedom to improve the British economy and generate more jobs.
This is a very woolly statement and does not explain HOW. It is wholly at odds with the views of most business leaders.
8. Freedom to regenerate Britain’s fisheries.
The Common Fisheries Policy sets quotas for member states stating the amounts of each type of fish they are entitled to catch. Fishermen claim it threatens their livelihoods, although fishing stocks were in decline long before the policy was framed. The CFP was created to manage fish stocks. Isn’t that a good idea?
9. Freedom to save the NHS from EU threats to undermine it by harmonising healthcare across the EU, and to reduce welfare payments
It will cost the NHS more to continue in its top-heavy, over-managerial ways. The NHS needs overhauling.
Moreover, the NHS has considerable catching up to do to equal many of its EU equivalents.
10. Freedom to restore British customs and traditions.
This is ludicrous. We still have cheese-rolling, Easter egg hunts, Maypole dancing, Morris Dancing, Guy Fawkes (usually called Bonfire Night), ceilidhs, Jack in the Green, well-dressing, wife carrying, pancake races, ferret racing . . . I suppose that some want to see fox-hunting restored, then why not cock fighting and dog fighting, and let’s import a few bears for bear baiting.
The young people in UK who will have to live with the fall-out from the decision by the so-called Brexiteers to leave EU, are rightly angry, for they will be affected for the rest of their lives – job prospects, housing, pensions, freedom to work in Europe.
The Referendum Leave campaign relied heavily on scare-mongering about immigration. I don’t know why they didn’t simply say, ‘Charity starts at home . . . and that’s where it should remain’ for when (some of) those who voted to leave were questioned it was immigration that they all mentioned. I am reminded of Enoch Powell’s infamous ‘rivers of blood’ speech in 1968. The full text is here and his reasoning is chilling.
Nothing much has changed. Great swathes of people fear and despise those they do not understand. When will the penny drop that Great Britain is and always has been a melting pot? We have been invaded, occasionally enslaved, for centuries. There is no such thing as a pure-born Brit. When will we appreciate the rich diversity of our ‘new’ countrymen and the things they bring for us to savour?
However it would appear that the United Kingdom is less united and more divided than ever. Scotland wants independence, Wales wants independence, Ireland wants reunification, London wants independence. How long will it be before the UK, or England at least, returns to the Heptarchy of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages?
The Heptarchy (from the Greek ἑπτά hepta, "seven" and ἄρχω arkho, "to rule") is a collective name applied to the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of south, east and central England during late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, conventionally identified as seven: East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Mercia, Northumbria, Sussex and Wessex. The Anglo-Saxon kingdoms eventually unified into the Kingdom of England. By convention, the Heptarchy lasted from the end of Roman rule in Britain in the 5th century, until most of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms came under the overlordship of Egbert of Wessex in 829: a period of European history often referred to as the Early Middle Ages or, more controversially, as the Dark Ages.
The term has been in use since the 16th century, but the initial idea that there were seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms is attributed to the English historian Henry of Huntingdon in the 12th century and was first used in his Historia Anglorum.
Meanwhile the pound continues to fall, meaning that goods will be more expensive and our standard of living will fall. Mortgages will be more difficult to arrange. The interest rate is falling. We must hope that we do not once more become the Sick Man of Europe as we were before we joined the EU.