The LSE’s Nicholas Barr explains why he will be voting to Remain in the EU referendum – citing a wide range of arguments about sovereignty, migration, international influence, regulation, democracy, trade and the single market to make his case. He concludes the economic and foreign policy costs of leaving are large, and the gains in sovereignty in today’s connected world are limited.
This article, written for many friends who have asked for a reasoned view of why I will vote Remain, summarises a longer article which sets out the supporting arguments more fully. I include links to evidence from credible sources, none (with the essential exception of the Financial Times) behind a paywall.
Before setting out, some caveats.
- We can’t predict the future with certainty. The world faces major uncertainties – economic (another economic crisis?), political (instability in the Middle East), environmental (climate change), societal (population ageing) and technical (nuclear safety). Thus this note does not claim to be ‘right’, but rather to set out arguments based on respectable theory and evidence.
- The EU hasn’t got it all right – far from it. But that on its own is not an argument for leaving. As William Hague (Telegraph, 22 December 2015) puts it,
‘I haven’t changed my view on the EU: I have often denounced how it works but never advocated withdrawal from it. This is one of many situations in life where finding many faults with something is different from thinking it best to leave it.’
UK opt-outs. The UK has a series of important opt-outs: from ‘ever closer union’; from the Euro; from the border-free Schengen Agreement; and from policies on asylum, migration, justice and internal security.
Trade. Figure 1 shows that British trade with the EU is much larger than with anyone else. Trade with China is growing more rapidly but is still very small (2.9%). In round numbers, about 45% of UK trade is with the EU, 18% with the USA and 7.3% with the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa).
Trade matters greatly. There is near-universal agreement among economists that trade contributes to higher living standards, and that reducing restrictions on trade generally increases the gains.
The Single European Market. Free-trade agreements are mostly about goods (cars, chemicals) rather than services (insurance). The Single European Market is about both and therefore has harmonised regulations to avoid non-tariff barriers (e.g. different or incompatible regulations designed to make it hard to break into a domestic market). If the UK is not in the single market, trade in services will be damaged. That matters because only 10% of UK output is in manufacturing.
Members of the European Economic Area like Norway have access to the single market without being members of the EU. However, as a former foreign minister of Norway explains, Norway must (a) accept free migration of EU citizens, (b) contribute to the EU budget, and (c) comply with all EU rules but with no say in making those rules.
Figure 1: Percentage of UK exports to other countries, 2014
Source: UK Pink Book 2015, Table 9.1.
Economic effects of leaving
A short Financial Times video gives an excellent summary.
There is little dispute that leaving would create short-term losses. A Treasury report (BBC 23 May 2016) on the short-run effects suggests a recession, a view confirmed by the respected independent Institute for Fiscal Studies who point to the resulting increase in the budget deficit and argue that ‘It is unlikely that government would respond with bigger spending cuts and tax rises in the short run. More likely “austerity” would be extended by another year (optimistic scenario) or another two years.’
There is also widespread agreement among economists that leaving would reduce economic growth over a longer time horizon, and that the loss could be large.
How large a loss depends critically on which trade regime is in place after we leave. The Treasury’s medium-term assessment models three options: ‘Norway’(remain in the single market); ‘Canada’ (a bilateral agreement with the EU); or based on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules without any specific agreement with the EU.
‘Britain would face an invidious choice …. The EU would insist that in return for full access to the single market, the UK must continue to sign up to EU laws, pay budget contributions and accept the free movement of people. As Britain would have voted to escape these perceived burdens, higher barriers to trade with the EU are all but certain. The higher the barriers, the greater the damage to the British economy’ (Centre for European Reform, 21 April 2016).
The losses will not fall evenly, but on particular regions (e.g. Cornwall), particular sectors (farming), on particular parts of the country (e.g. where foreign-owned car plants are sited), and on tax-financed public services such as the NHS if lower growth adds to fiscal pressures.
The argument that the UK will be able to negotiate good trade deals quickly is implausible.
- The EU is more important to the UK than vice versa, so our bargaining power is limited.
- Brexit risks a chain reaction, given rising nationalism across the EU (on which more below). Thus the EU’s rational response is to make a horrible example of the UK.
- For non-EU countries (e.g. USA, China), negotiating with the EU offers access to a market of 500 million. The UK is much less of a magnet.
‘The claim that the outcome will be fine because Britain is the fifth-largest economy in the world is technically wrong, a non sequitur and a fundamental misreading of history. It is hard to think of a worse argument’ (Chris Giles, Economics Editor, Financial Times, 4 May 2016).
Do we really send £350 million per week to Brussels?
The claim that membership costs £350 million per week, i.e. £18bn per year, is plain wrong.
‘First, the rebate [negotiated by Margaret Thatcher] on Britain’s contributions means the annual contribution is expected to be £13bn in 2015. Of that money, another £4.5bn comes back to the UK as farming subsidies and regional development funds. Another £1.4bn comes back in grants to the private sector. These adjustments reduce the £350m a week to £136m (Financial Times, 1 April 2016).
‘Claims that we would have an additional £350 million a week to spend are wrong. They imply that following a UK exit other EU countries would continue to pay a rebate to the UK on contributions it was not making. Such claims also imply we would simply stop all existing EU subsidies to farming and poorer regions (such as Cornwall and west Wales)’ (Institute for Fiscal Studies 25 May 2016).
In everyday terms, the cost of EU membership is less than 30p per person per day, roughly the cost of a cheap mobile phone contract. The reduction in the government’s tax revenues from even a small reduction in growth rates after leaving would dwarf any saving in our net EU contribution.
Potential international effects
For a summary, see William Hague’s articles in The Telegraph, 22 December 2015, 18 April and 9 May 2016).
Someone misspoke on the radio, asking ‘Will you vote to stay in the UK?’ – but was right. A vote to leave risks destabilising the UK through the possibility of a second Scottish referendum. There are also ramifications for the Irish peace process (Financial Times, 28 April 2016), which depends crucially on both UK and Irish Republic being members of the EU, with no border for people, goods or services.
Leaving also risks destabilising the EU economically and politically. Marine Le Pen is already calling for a Frexit referendum, with a risk that populist parties in other countries, including Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark, could follow (Financial Times, 26 February 2016).
If the UK and EU are weaker, the US is weaker. These pressures enact what has been Soviet or Russian foreign policy for sixty years – divide Western Europe and destabilise and weaken the EU – see the powerful article by Garry Kasparov, Guardian 13 May 2016.
Kevin Featherstone summarises some of the findings of the LSE Commission on Britain’s Future in Europe.
‘A “no” vote … will greatly extend the crises that the EU is already trying to manage. Geopolitically, a Brexit will weaken Europe’s ability to stand up to Putin’s aggression and the challenges of jihadism. The EU would lose a member that has one of its biggest military and diplomatic capacities, its main advocate of interventionism, and the strongest link with Washington. Brexit will threaten the global role of both the UK and the EU. Internally, a Brexit will rejuvenate fears of Germany hegemony, with France alone unable to be the counter-balance, with concerns revived in Europe’s east and south.’
For some, the economic and international costs of leaving might be a price worth paying if it restored UK sovereignty.
Economic sovereignty. The Westminster government has less sovereignty than in the past. First, globalisation has reduced the independence of all countries. For example, the internet makes national boundaries more porous (music downloads, Netflix), making competition global and reducing the freedom of any country to have taxes and regulations too different from competing countries. That said, the UK retains significant sovereignty over fiscal policy (taxes and government spending) because of the opt-out from the Euro.
In addition, the UK shares sovereignty with the UN, NATO, the World Trade Organisation, etc. (the UK has signed 14,000 treaties (Financial Times, 3 May 2016)); and within the UK, central government has devolved significant powers to regions and cities.
International reach. Though there is room for disagreement about how strong the effect would be, it hard to see how the UK becomes a more powerful global actor by separating itself from its own continent.
Migration. For many, this issue is the crux. The question is not whether the issue is real (it is) but the choice of policies to address it.
In 2015, ‘Net migration of EU citizens was estimated to be 184,000 (compared with 174,000 in YE December 2014; change not statistically significant). Non-EU net migration was 188,000 a similar level compared with the previous year (194,000)’ (Office for National Statistics 26 May 2016).
Historically there have been great benefits from waves of immigration, from the Huguenots to today’s NHS workers. The best available evidence shows that current immigrants are net fiscal contributors and ‘[t]he contributions of those who stay in Britain may well increase. It is a new form of foreign direct investment’ (Economist, 8 November 2014).
Research by LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance (see Independent, 12 May 2016) finds that immigration from the EU does not harm wages, jobs or public services. The view that there is a fixed number of jobs, and hence that immigration reduces the number of jobs for Brits, is widely believed but mistaken (what economists call the ‘lump of labour’ fallacy). Immigrants to the UK add to domestic demand for goods and services which helps to generate employment.
Those findings, however, do not rule out local problems if numbers increase rapidly. The case for targeted action is strong; it does not follow that leaving the EU is a good answer.
Even if the UK were outside the EU, reducing immigration would not be easy.
‘Migrationwatch has estimated that applying the current non-EU migration rules to EU nationals would reduce the current 323,000 net migration total by about 100,000’ (National Institute Economic Review, May 2016, p. 20, quoted in the Guardian, 10 May 2016).
Finally, the flip side of ‘gaining control of our borders’ is reducing the right of younger Brits to live and work in other EU countries and of older Brits to retire there.
‘A lot would depend on the kind of deal the UK agreed with the EU after exit…. If the government opted to impose work permit restrictions, as UKIP wants, then other countries could reciprocate, meaning Britons would have to apply for visas to work’ (BBC, 12 May 2016).
Security. The argument that free movement allows criminals to enter the UK should not be overstated. Driving from Brussels to Amsterdam, the only evidence of a border is the sign ‘Nederland’, like ‘Welcome to Somerset’. Such borders offer no security against terrorists or criminals. But the UK has an opt-out on the border-free Schengen agreement and thus has passport control at its borders. Failures of security are largely domestic, including self-inflicted cuts to Border Agency staff.
Democracy. The argument about ‘unelected bureaucrats’ is spurious. We never get to vote for Treasury or Home Office officials. The real questions are:
- Is there a democratic deficit in the EU, i.e. does the European Parliament exert sufficiently powerful democratic oversight over the activities of EU officials? There are legitimate doubts whether that is so.
- How likely is it that the problem will be addressed? There are grounds for optimism: the problem is recognised and other member states share UK concerns, so that pressure for change will comes from multiple sources.
- Is this issue a reason for leaving? Clearly views can differ. Mine is the same as William Hague’s in the quote at the start of this article.
For what it is worth, there are 55,000 EU civil servants; the UK has 393,000 (BBC, 13 May 2016) .
Regulation. It is argued that the EU imposes heavy and unhelpful regulation.
- OECD studies show that the UK has the second least-regulated product markets among industrial countries and the least-regulated labour markets in the EU.
- Regulation has benefits. Co-ordination (for example, common safety standards for electrical products) is a necessary part of a single market, making it easier to trade. It also provides consumer protection, e.g. cheaper air fares, lower roaming charges, cleaner beaches.
- What many regard as the most burdensome regulations – planning – are self-inflicted.
Leaving the EU would not reduce regulation substantially. The issue is not regulation as a whole, but removing or revising the bad regulations that undoubtedly exist. That is a highly worthwhile task, but not a reason for leaving.
In sum. The UK remains a sovereign country in the sense that we can at any time decide to leave the EU. However, we cannot as easily decide to rejoin. The opt-outs described earlier were negotiated when the UK was a member state, hence with veto power. Were the UK to leave and later to reapply, the opt outs would no longer be on offer.
Benefits of EU membership
The argument is not only about the costs of leaving but also about the benefits of membership.
- Peace should not be underestimated because so few people are left who can remember the Second World War. The EU has also helped to consolidate democracy in Southern European countries formerly under military dictatorships and in former communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
- Membership of the world’s largest economy creates considerable economic benefits.
- Membership gives greater control of the international environment (climate change, control of multinationals, action on tax havens).
- Free movement benefits the large numbers of Brits who live and work in other EU countries, something of particular relevance to younger people who live and work in other EU countries for part of their career and older people who retire to warmer climes.
For different mixes of these reasons,
‘Best friends from Washington to Wellington, Ottawa to Canberra and Tokyo to Delhi are unanimous that their relationships are tied to Britain’s place in Europe. Nato, the ultimate guarantor of British security, thinks the country would be disarming itself by quitting’ (Financial Times, 19 May 2016).
Comparing costs and benefits is not as exciting as a rousing political speech, but is the right way to approach a hugely important decision. For me the balance of arguments is clear: the economic and foreign policy costs of leaving are large, and on my reading the gains in sovereignty in today’s connected world are limited. The issue is not about the older generation’s past but about our children’s and grandchildren’s future. For those reasons, I shall vote Remain.
A minimal reading list
On factual matters, see the BBC reality check, www.bbc.co.uk/realitycheck
On economics, see the short video by Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator of the Financial Times.
On international aspects, see the articles by William Hague in The Telegraph, 22 December 2015, 18 April and 9 May 2016
On sovereignty, see Martin Wolf, Financial Times, 3 May 2016.
LSE Commission on Britain’s Future in Europe
LSE Centre for Economic Performance
I am grateful to Alok Basu, Iain Begg, Richard Bronk, Anne Corbett, Richard Goeltz, Abby Innes, Waltraud Schelkle, Ros Taylor and John Van Reenen for helpful comments on the longer version of this article. Remaining errors and the views expressed are my responsibility.
Also by Nicholas Barr: EU membership is not the only way to foster labour mobility. But it is the best
This post represents the views of the author and not those of the BrexitVote blog, nor the LSE.
Nicholas Barr is Professor of Public Economics at the European Institute, London School of Economics. N.Barr@lse.ac.uk
A deluge of pro EU data descends on us.
However, no one looks at what happens after a remain result.
The Euro-zone will come together as the United States of Europe because it must or its Frankenstein currency will implode.
Britain is to be the Puerto Rico of the United States of Europe? Is that it?
We WILL be dictated to. Make no mistake.
The track record of “experts” at prediction is alarmingly bad – throughout history.These studies are notorious for finding a result & then posing a question.
The smart move is always to keep your powder dry – but the remain camp want to dream that the French & Germans & Dutch have our best interests at heart. They do not.
It was German & Dutch politicians that came over to Britain before we joined the EEC to assure us that they were really on our side & they would ally with us against the French to stop “ever closer union”. But once we joined they did nothing. They lied then & they lie now.
It’s frustrating to read a balanced and well presented argument with none of the usual rhetoric or fear mongering about the referendum only for the first comment to be full of unsubstantiated rhetoric and fear mongering about the referendum. Nothing you have written can be backed up. And before you start, I’m personally still undecided.
Yes we can all of us put together a well reasoned position paper for the EU, but what about the important questions? Where are they?
You ask for back up.
Do you accept that there is something fundamentally wrong with the Euro currency?
If you do then what would you have done about it to put it right?
At this point you should have a queezy feeling in your stomach.
That is the back up!
So to be clear: get out of Europe if you have a spot of dyspepsia? Do we invade Poland if we have a mild migraine? How about we jettison London if we have a really bad case of food poisoning?
Your kind of comment makes the Brexit campaign look pretty bad. No discussion of points but remarks about gurgling stomachs.
PS You forgot to end your posting with CAPITALS!
Were we all to descend into sarcasm as you do then an already confused argument will go further downhill to chaos.
Tough questions need to be asked & if possible, answered. Produducing neat summations of economics [for example] goes only so far. These same economists told us that unless we joined the euro-currency we would become a “has been” economy. There were 2,000 economists & World “experts” during 1999 just before the euro currency launch telling us to join that club.
The big question is all about that currency & what is to happen to it.
Answer that question then be as sarcastic as you please.
I look forward to your contribution Adam.
Interesting, Mr. Wainwright.
However, you perhaps need a little education! The UK has never invaded Poland and indeed that was the trigger that started WW2 when the bully boy of Europe, Germany, invaded Poland in 1939. It was the UK and France that joined forces to come to the aid of Poland. End of History lesson!
Your asinine comment about London beggars belief! By chance, do you happen to know what a “non sequitur” means? If not, please research it!
Perhaps you can help my education. I am unaware of any requirement to end a post with capital letters in the English language. Please could you direct me to your authority? End of English Language lesson.
Your fixation with biology is interesting, but it does have a rather narrow focus. When you wrote your post, did you have a bad case of Montezuma’s revenge? If so, perhaps not the best time to try to write an academic reply! End of science lesson.
Please do not criticise others for “No discussion of points …” when you do not make a single point on the debate itself. End of lesson on hypocrisy.
Before you think about it, I am well aware of sarcasm and how it is used. However, are you aware of Wilde’s definition of sarcasm, namely “the lowest form of wit”? I am aware of Wilde’s continuation, but do not believe he was right all the time and that is exemplified in your post!
Seriously, perhaps it may help If you think carefully about all the issues. In particular, look at the promises made by our PM before his meeting with European leaders and then examine what he achieved. The key issue is not economics, but sovereignty! Did he achieve anything on this issue? In my opinion, if we do not leave the EU, the peoples of the UK will become little more than serfs to our masters in Europe. Look how the EU tries to bully us and how the so-called “independent” BBC behaves in presenting the arguments nearly always from Cameron’s point of view. If you want to live in a control freak state perhaps North Korea might oblige.
“The key issue is not economics, but sovereignty! Did he achieve anything on this issue? In my opinion, if we do not leave the EU, the peoples of the UK will become little more than serfs to our masters in Europe.”
And who exactly are our “masters in Europe” – the French? The Germans? The Italians? The Dutch? Saying we will lose our sovereignty is tantamount to saying that Cornishmen are indistinguishable from Yorkshiremen, despite both being part of Europe’s oldest federal super state since the time of King Alfred. Or Queen Anne, if you care to include the Scots. ‘Sovereignty’ is one of those emotive buzzwords that gets bandied about an awful lot but doesn’t really mean much to any one particular individual living in an island that has been continuously settled – sometimes peaceably, occasionally not – since the time of the Beaker people. I have to class myself as “white British” on forms, but that includes Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Dutch, and Huguenot (going back about 5 generations) in addition to English. For every one of your “sovereignties” I’ll see you and raise you a mongrel Brit.
TiddK your reply is interesting, but is little more than a feeble attempt to divert attention from the key issue, that of sovereignty, to a would be history lesson! Incidentally, it is poor English to start a sentence with a conjunction. In your case, the word “And”!
To start, the way in which I used “sovereignty” is the standard usage. To wit: the right of a country to make its own laws and to rule itself. Sovereignty is NOT “an emotive buzz word” for it has a precise meaning and usage. The Shorter English Dictionary defines sovereignty as follows:
1. Supremacy in respect of excellence or efficacy; pre-eminence.
2. Supremacy in respect of power or rank; supreme authority.
3. The position, rank, or power of a supreme ruler or monarch; royal dominion. b. The supreme power in a community not under monarchical government; absolute and independent authority of a state, community, etc.
4. A territory under the rule of a sovereign or existing as an independent state.
Interestingly, the next entry in that dictionary is “Soviet”! Perhaps appropriate as Marxists hardly ever tell the truth and attempt to disguise their lies and/or dissimulation.
Your attempt at dissimulation is to try to argue that sovereignty is something to do with your feeble attempt at a history lesson. As usual for the Remain campaign, completely removed from reality and attempting to mask the truth by any means that come to their (increasingly desperate) hands!
To answer your question about “our masters in Europe”, I find it interesting that you list 3 countries, namely, France, Germany and Holland. All three of the countries have been at war with Great Britain at various times. If you don’t know or understand to whom I was referring by “our masters” then perhaps you have been having too many late nights playing poker and ignoring what is happening in the world! I refer, of course, to the unelected rulers of the EU.
In your attempt at dissimulation, you list your bloodline and your ancestor’s nationality. In my opinion, you ought to go down on your knees and thank Great Britain for giving sanctuary to your Huguenot antecedents! Had Great Britain not done so, you would not be alive today! Ever heard of the word, “GRATITUDE”?
In conclusion, I should love to play poker with you! It has been ages since the poker school to which I belonged ended and the money would come in handy to help launch a legal challenge against the Government for illegal use of taxpayers’ money and the BBC for blatant bias in its news coverage.
Raise, call or stack?
First, I will take no lesson in English grammar from you : starting a sentence with a conjunction is perfectly acceptable (a stylistic device) and I fear you have unconsciously taken on board the so-called “rules of English” promulgated by a certain 18th Century clergyman which were actually based more on Latin than on our unique blend of Anglo-Saxon, Nordic, and Norman French.
Second, it is obvious that I was not giving a history lesson. I was simply pointing out that England (and only later , the UK) is one of the oldest federal unions in Europe, and we therefore have nothing to fear from (an imagined) European superstate. One day it might happen, but even so we would not lose our unique Britishness which – as I said – is comprised of many races and ethnicities over millennia.
You say that our “EU masters” are “the unelected rulers of the EU”. There ARE no such thing. There are only unelected bureaucrats in Brussels, akin to our unelected Civil Service in Whitehall. There IS a European Parliament to which all MEPs are elected. And each nation is ruled by its own government, in our case by a parliamentary democracy loosely underpinned by a monarchical head of state; the French have a Republic as do the Germans; the Dutch have a similar system to ours, as does Spain, and so on. And (note that conjunction again – I choose it carefully) we have an independent judiciary that administers a blend of Common Law and statute; any decision can now of course also be referred to the European Courts, but only in certain circumstances. But (another conjunction) I do accept that the EU makes laws about things like workers’ rights, which we must accept – and thank God, we do! – while being in the EU.
I am well aware that the nations I chose have been at war with us at one time or another. That is precisely why I chose them. Well done you, for spotting that. It is because of the original Treaty of Rome that Europe has enjoyed a period of peace since WW2, at least between the countries that make it up.
I am now very tired having penned this long reply and I am to bed. You will have to start your all-night poker game without me.
Thank you for your reply.
It is a great pity that you do not wish any help with your use of English from me. Before I retired, I taught English at A level to a variety of students in state schools with considerable success. My credentials: I hold a degree from the Institute of Education, University of London. At Birkbeck College, University of London (part time whilst working) I achieved a very high two/one in compulsory Anglo-Saxon and a very high first in my thesis on Mathew Arnold assessed by Professor M. Allot, one of the two foremost world experts on Arnold at that time. So I feel I am fairly well qualified to assess the use of English.
You are right that it is possible to open a sentence with a conjunction, but rarely and used with considerable care. In your last missive, you used one unattributed sentence starting with a conjunction and two attributed ones. Three in about two hundred and twenty words. Rather overkill methinks! Further to your use of English: “First, I will take no lesson in English grammar from you” and “… there are no such thing.” Both use the negative and that may imply that some instances are extant! Not good style, I’m afraid. Sadly, there are some less than attractive split infinitives in your document! In addition, “…there are no such thing.” Is a mix of singular and plural. I will assume that “The nations I choose … (sic) could be a typo, but perhaps more elegantly phrased as “the nations I have chosen …”. Chose is the correct form!
I do not make any apology for the English lesson, but my original comment about conjunctions was somewhat lighthearted. Perhaps a little work needed on sense of humour?
I assume that the 18th century clergyman to whom you refer is Robert Lowth and his book, “A short introduction to English grammar (1762)? Sadly not, I’m afraid, but I was fortunate to have an outstanding Teacher of English, Mr. Hugh Kelly, now sadly departed.
You claim you were not giving a history lesson, but as your post contained slightly more than 20% of history, It seems fair comment. In any event, another whimsical remark intended to lighten the mood. Perhaps a little more work on the sense of humour?
I notice you do not address the substantive issue, that of who rules the UK, its people or bureaucrats in Brussels? At the moment it is Brussels and we have very little say in decisions about our lives and how our country is run. Perhaps the reason that many citizens of the EU are rejecting the idea of the central government is that citizens feel helpless and disenfranchised! Furthermore, recent behaviour by EU. leaders has not reassured the public, including those in France and Germany. The behaviour of David Cam Moron in his recent trip to Europe, beggars belief! The reason why it looks likely that the Leave campaign are winning is that the Moron needed to attend RADA rather than Oxford. His acting ability is close to zero and I doubt many were fooled by his claims of an Exhausting workload and Successful concessions from the EU!
Your admission that the EU makes laws about “things like workers’ rights” is correct and in many ways helpful as it tries to redress the balance between poor quality employers and employees. If the Leave campaign win, how long do you think the Tory party will keep the Moron and his mouthpiece clown (Osborne)? Why do you think the level of desperation from Downing Street is increasing daily? I notice from your other posts that you dislike IDS and I agree with you. My wife and I are disabled so are well aware of what is going on!
Finally, two points: unfortunately I do have the energy for all night poker. You cannot be all bad for it appears you like Dad’s Army. Don’t panic Mr. Mainwaring (it’s not the glorious 23rd yet!).
Mike Stringer – two things that really aren’t done: (1) correcting one’s interlocutor’s English during a conversation or debate; (2) falling back on a list of one’s academic qualifications.
The rest of your comment is so full of logical fallacies, paranoid fantasy and plain untruths that it’s difficult to know where to start. Really, it’s quite an achievement. Were I to set out and try to write the most absurdly illogical and asinine non-argument for Brexit, I’d struggle to do as well as you. Chapeau!
[I shall skip the English lesson you began with, as well as the insults you decided to employ in your response to me – you demean yourself when you argue like that, not me.]
“I notice you do not address the substantive issue, that of who rules the UK, its people or bureaucrats in Brussels? At the moment it is Brussels…”
You describe the question “who rules the UK” as the substantive issue. Firstly, this is begging the question (an informal fallacy): you’re trying to frame the debate so that it depends on answering a question of your choice, and then immediately answer it without providing any evidence. The reality is that in 21st century democracy, all modern states devolve some of their sovereignty to international organisations. This was explained quite clearly in Nicholas Barr’s article.
There is no factual basis for your claim that the EU “rules the UK”. What is true is that the UK has agreed to EU rules concerning some aspects of governance. But in the most important aspects of sovereignty – control of territory and frontiers, and the ability to exert power or force – the UK has not ceded any power whatsoever to the EU. It has ceded some power to NATO – because of our membership, we are not allowed to raid France’s channel ports or bombard Cadiz – but nor are our fellow member states permitted to do the same to us.
Finally, in a legal, constitutional sense, the Crown is sovereign in the UK. The Crown’s power is based on the Queen herself, and exercised through Parliament.
“Your admission that the EU makes laws about “things like workers’ rights” is correct and in many ways helpful as it tries to redress the balance between poor quality employers and employees.”
I don’t know what this means. His admission was helpful? Or the EU laws are helpful? And what are “poor quality employers and employees”?
So your whole basis is on the Euro. Something we are not a part of, and won’t be a part of unless we decide (this would have to go to referendum).
That like being scared of a bogeyman hiding in a cupboard.
The author has made many reasoned arguments. Debate them on those.
You seem to think that the euro does not affect us because we are not a euro-zone country.
Not so. The euro may well destroy the EU & do so in circumstances that cause real havoc to us.
Also you want to debate on what Nicholas Barr wrote leaving out the elephant in the room. This we must not do.
The euro is the dangerous fault line in Europe & how it is dealt with is crucial.
There are very limited options as you should know.
Consider those options.
I encourage everyone to just think – hard & long about those options because the euro is still on a roller coaster ride & is still not under control & can never be under control without a united government of Europe [a United States of Europe] which we will be outside of but which we must accept as the big boy on the block..
Please think. I encourage everyone to think.
Jim, there is indeed a lot wrong with the Euro, the lack of political union precludes any sort of fiscal union and therefore the economic tools to deal with the severe crisis the Euro is currently facing. Issues of sovereignty make any potential future political and fiscal union between EU member states very unlikely in the forseeable future. However, the goal of “ever closer union” is nothing new and its function to create political and fiscal union and therefore empower the ECB to tackle such economic crises more effectively. This said a few points for you:
1. The UK doesnt use the Euro does it? Nor does it ever look likely to do so?
2. Even if the Euro failed and all member states reverted to sovereign currencies would that automatically mean a failure of what was the EEC and the basis of what is now the EU?
3. “Ever closer union” is nothing new, if you do your research you will realise that this was the idea in the 1970s. Sectors of the British public are only just waking up to this 40 years later. De Gaulle vetoed UK entry due to a deep seated hostility toward the European initiative. If your comment represents the majority of Britain it serves only to prove that De Gaulle was correct to twice veto entry of the UK.
4. If the British public decided to remain a member of the EU, how would this stop implementation of article 50 of the Lisbon treaty at a later date? Before you say that the EU would plug that hole with a new treaty, that would require the consensus of all EU member states before it could be ratified.
Of course ever closer union is not new. We all knew this on entry to the EEC. That was when many German & Dutch politicians appeared on our TV screens nightly telling us that you can`t change the [then] EEC from the outside but come on in & we will support you to change ever closer union & the CAP et al.
It didn`t happen because once we joined they forgot about their promises.
As for article 50, forget it. It is the Euro zone that will decide matters as Cameron found out when he was out manouvred by the EU taking their decisons within the Euro zone not the EU per se.
We must all be careful not to indulge ourselves in a leap of faith.
Buit, at least you are thinking. Good. Keep it up.
Well said, Jim. Your comments and responses to those that are challenging them are cogent and we’ll thought out. Nothing in this article convinces me to vote ‘Remain’.
These economist types are almost consistently wrong.. about everything. Didn’t hear any of these geniuses predicting the 08 crisis for example. Do yourselves a favour and watch this – https://youtu.be/UTMxfAkxfQ0 (brexit the movie)
Remain – I finally get it, it is about the economy and jobs. If we want those we must listen to the experts from financial institutions, investment bankers and hedge fund managers, they will give us jobs, if we only surrender some of our liberties, if we don’t they will punish us, I get that. It is scary.
But before we give them democracy just think of this first … Many countries of Europe flirted with fascism in the 1940s, (even Vichy sad to say), extremism was on the rise. In Great Britain, we gave the fascists a voice but they gained no traction, mainly richly deserved ridicule – that was because we had fully functioning parliamentary democracy, everybody had a voice. Our parents and grandparents knew how valuable that was so, they downed tools and risked all, to fight for it. I am eternally grateful to that generation. By their example, they brought peace to Europe and for the longest period in its history (with a little help from the US and commonwealth soldiers in Nato), I know that others claim all the credit. By doing that their generation also showed what free and democratic people can do in the face of dictatorial government oppresing its own people and conducting unspeakable terror., power has always corrupted, always.
So, do as the money people say, back in the fold with us, they can keep the control. We will be just fine, we can’t all end up like Greece – 40 years of austerity to pay off EU enforced to banlks to pay for work undertaken by their corporate confidants.So our european cousins in Greece have 55% youth unemployment – but they can come and get unskilled and lower paid work in the North of Europe – which will admitedly lead to a reduction in wages – that is good for profit.
The EU trajectory has been higher debt, lower employment, more extremism and more state control of security – I don’t want that future, I want what we had,
This article is yet more personal opinion masquerading as balanced scientific analysis. Why do universities no longer teach students to be sceptical? When I was a student in the early 1970s, we were anti-establishment and pro working classes. Today, it is quite the opposite.
What’s even worse are rather odd individuals who claim they are undecided in order to make their eventual (inevitable) remain stance sound substantiated. Lying is typically consistent with both sides it seems.
Everything I said was based on logic and analysis and will become self evident, all backed up by Mervin King Ex-Governor of the Bank of England. The Italian banks are collapsing, economies of Greece, Portugal and Spain being ruined. The eurozone is now in serious trouble and cultures, countries being destroyed by free movement, and the terrorist threats never greater. In a few years people will realise Brexit was the best decision we ever made.
This is your conjecture, but you offer not evidence for what you claim about the Euro or otherwise. Besides which, not all EU countries are part of the Euro, notably Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary. There are others! Also the EU will not disintegrate, as too many of the Eastern European countries have a large vested interest in belonging to something which allies them to Western Europe, for security as well as other matters.
On the other hand this blog is extremely well argued and makes many sensible points, but is not wildly partisan.
You lost any sympathy to your argument when I read the stupid phase “Frankenstein currency” . The more I read, Brexit have to use repulsive terms like “enslaved by europe” as in UKIP literature, “we want out country bank” is another banded about freely and ignorantly. Why are you so insecure in your nationalism, Germany isnt or France? Im British European simple. We need to stay in to reform the market 45% of our trade is with and is what makes us the 5th largest economy because of it. Norway pay £135 per household to trade with EU from Outside and accepts its rules, we pay £87 per household. Immigration in UK DOES have a points system already while to keep quoting Australia, their system is not to curb immigration but select who it wants, creaming skills off other nations. A while Im at it, Gibraltar…. what happens when we are ‘outside’ and Spain wants to close a boarder on mainland europe as it will be a prime target for refugees……?
Well I am sorry indeed to have lost your simpathy & even more sorry that you lost your manners.
The Frankenstein currency is exactly that. A cobbled together elitist idea based on the old 1854 LMU single currency which also failed & from which France & the others did not learn anything.
The fault line is there if you look for it.
Infants in a BIG wide world.
Why do you assume that the French, the Belgians, the Dutch won’t have ‘our’ best interests at heart but fellow Brits in charge of our own country after Brexit will ?
It all really depends on who you are referring to when you use the word ‘us’.
For me ‘us’ doesn’t mean I always give or expect favour from someone else purely and simply because they happen to come from the same country as me.
I prefer to see ‘us’ as any one of the vast number of people across Europe who share the same social values as I do and I would much rather trust them to make the decisions that will have my best interests at heart, than I do the many members of the British ruling classes that make the decisions which effect me in my own country.
You are far more trusting in the continental Europeans than I am & I truly wish you well with that trust.
Most contributors here have long since made their minds up as to what their vote will be on the 23rd June.
As for the “British ruling classes” of which you write – well don`t you think that people should stop voting for “Them”? Why don`t you persuade the people not to vote for “Them”.
But that surely is a different issue altogether [it really is].
“The track record of “experts” at prediction is alarmingly bad”.
You said it.
Tony Blaire made a much broader argument for staying in the EU, that trade is at the heart of our relationship and that if we left we would have to renegotiate trade deals. That being part of the EU is better for our security as there are world-wide wars being fought in Africa, in Phillippines, in Afganistan, and that we are safer staying in the EU. Staying in the EU we will also have a chance to reform the EU.
Sorry if i am incorrect but being in EU does not make us safer as there is NO EU army or deface organisation, that is NATO and has nothing to do with EU, we would still be part of NATO should we choose to leave the EU, being part of the EU many high ranking military actually say makes us weaker and at more risk as we don’t in reality have control of our borders and with the economic migration being what it is today surely that does pose a huge risk to the UK
You’re really going to listen to a man openly lied about reasons for going to war with a country. This is a man who is guilty of unlawfully killing thousands of British people in a war for oil money and is a proven liar and you think listening and acting upon this persons advice is sensible?
If Tony Blair was the leader of a middle eastern country he would be considered a tyrant, and the vote in camp looks to this guy for advice?
Are you being serious right now?
Am I being censored?
So because Tony Blair was wrong about Iraq, he was wrong about everything else? That winning 3 General Elections in a row was simply a trivial chimera? I have the teensiest-weensiest feeling that I would sooner listen to and believe Blair than Nigel Farage, Michael Gove, and Katie Hopkins.
This is an excellent presentation of the reality surrounding Brexit – I couldn’t agree with you more. However, if logic fails we have a powerful partner in Behavioural Economics to fall back on. We can most certainly count on the Default Effect ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Default_effect_(psychology ) to boost ‘Stay’ votes. Between the two, it should be enough to keep us in the EU.
The EU have no agreement regarding services the same as they still do not have an agreement with the USA. If you start your article with lies how can we believe anything.
Not only that, but he says, “Norway must … comply with all EU rules but with no say in making those rules.” This is completely untrue. Norway, sitting as it does, on many international standards bodies (compared with Britain, which can’t due to its membership of the EU), in many respects has more influence over policy than any EU member state. This article also counteracts the views of the Norwegian foreign minister: http://eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=84212
As the article says., Norway does not need Brussels to tell it what to do, neither can Norway tell the EU what to do. And with the stagnation of the price of Oil. Norway will have to make sure it holds onto its markets if it wants to remain Not being told what to do…..Norway is also a part of the EEC, I believe the Brexiters want a complete break. Norway also has the toughest immigration laws which are contrary to EU laws. On many occasion Norway has been accused of cherry picking. And they still have to pay to remain part of the EEC something which they definitely cannot afford to lose.
The EU will still exist once we leave; Climate Change will still be tackled, the southern states previously at war will remain at peace. I am majorly pro-EU for many of the benefits mentioned however, the constant assumption that everything will collapse when/if we leave pushed me to look at the argument from the other side.
I’ve now come to the conclusion that, fundamentally, democracy far outweighs economics for me. Imagine if Robert Mugabe decided not to hold Zimbabwe’s next election based on the economic costs involved? There’d be an outcry! Yet here, and all throughout this debate, we are being scared with respect to money; that we might be a tenner a week worse off… There’s a bigger picture here guys and, frankly, I’d happily take a small financial hit in the short term if it means the people we elect into Parliament are the people responsible for making and voting on our laws. That’s what democracy’s about; and I’m sorry, but we shouldn’t put a price on that.
Andy – “That’s what democracy’s about; and I’m sorry, but we shouldn’t put a price on that.”
Beautifully put. For me that’s it in a nutshell!
I’m right there with you Sir. I am still not decided myself but all of this ‘stay or suffer death by a 1000 cuts’ rhetoric has me ill with contempt for leadership that seems to have no consideration for what might simply be ‘right’ despite the costs amd sacrifice. Its cowardly and leads us down a path of perpetual dependence and control because we will always be afraid of what might be if we have to stand alone.
As you have also said, the right to directly influence the political decisions that govern our own country and lives is a right worth fighting and sacrificing for. We are not a small, weak, or incapable nation and forcing ourselves to dig deep now and build a solid (and sovereign) foundation for the future seems to me to be short term sacrifice for long term freedom and independence. Hmmm…maybe I have decided after all.
So much talk about democracy, but what does it really mean? If you live in certain parts of this country, very little! Outlying regions such as Cornwall, Cumbria, and parts of East Anglia are utterly neglected by Westminster politicians because there are not enough votes to merit attention. The EU makes investment decisions on the basis of economic need, because they are not directly dependent on votes. There are huge areas of our lives over which the EU has no influence, and neither do voters. Increasing government interference in education, for example, has damaged both teachers and children with ill-conceived and inappropriate testing, and we have no way of changing that because there are no safeguards. Taking back control is a useful slogan for exploiting popular frustration, but that frustration arises from British government policies, and the EU has little to do with it. If we vote out we will have an extreme right-wing regime in England (the other parts of Britain may be able to escape) and ‘democracy’ will count for very little!
Except what is right for most, especially the most disadvantaged is that the country prospers financially as a whole. The argument is that even if we leave we’ll have to follow many of the laws of the EU to trade in the single market (as Norway does) so being out wont really effect the sovereignty much. It actually explains this in the article.
Well put Andy. That’s what matters most to me too.
Not withstanding the evident intelligence of this excellently written and factually supported letter, the EU system of government nevertheless strikes me as hugely undemocratic and extremely resistant to change. Although it may have substantial benefits, this drawback is all-important to me. Some have suggested it should be changed from within and this, of course, would be preferable but there is no evidence, in my opinion, that the political elite within the EU are prepared to consider change and certainly not radical change as would be needed.
The democratic recourse to remove those with power every 4 or 5 years, if we are not satisfied with their performance, is an absolute pre-requisite in my view. However, if we vote to leave, in particular by a small margin, perhaps that would force those in charge to wake up and realise that we may be serious and that other members may indeed sympathise with our dissatisfaction and start a more genuine negotiation in a serious attempt to preserve the integrity and cohesiveness of the EU.
I have recently started to think that it might have been better, for this increasingly rather ugly campaign, if the referendum had been set up as a two step process. An initial referendum on 23rd June as currently set with a second and final referendum set for two years later if the result is a win for Brexit. i.e. If the Remainers win then we just get on with it but if the leavers win we have a two year period of intense negotiations during which we would try to establish a clear picture of the differences ahead of us. The EU could come to the negotiating table and clarify how much they are willing to change if we choose to stay and put that in writing so that it is unequivocal. Furthermore, they could clarify exactly what deal we would have on offer should we make a final decision to leave. We could also, at the same time, negotiate some other deals with other countries to try and see how they progress.
In the last couple of months we could then have a second and final referendum having removed much of the uncertainty and consequent conjecture that has led to the feeling of scare-mongering on both sides that has bedevilled the campaign we have had. Perhaps then we would have fewer voters being pushed in one direction or the other by “fear of the unknown”.
I wouldn’t mind betting that this is what we will end up with anyway if Brexit wins, in particular by a small margin. The EU is simply likely to say “OK. You mean it so we will negotiate in better faith now and then we expect you to repeat the referendum” which is what they have done in the past when they haven’t liked referendum results, further supporting the accusation that they have no interest in democratic processes!
Andy, Alister, Wayne,
I agree with the importance of democracy but can’t see BREXIT as a viable solution here.
Every political institution is created to solve the political problems at the time of its creation. The modern sovereign nation state which came into existence in the early 18th Century was created to solve the political problems of that time. Over time things change and those political institutions are seen to be no longer valid so change, that change can take some time to happen. As an example we’ve been a democracy for hundreds of years but over that time the number and type of people who can actually vote has changed dramatically.
Then, over the last fifty of so years there have been huge changes to how the world operates and is understood. Commerce is truly global, markets are global, people can move continents (let alone countries) overnight, ideas flow freely in all but the most censorious states and we better understand the global nature of the environment and our impact on it.
Given this the key question is whether the sovereign nation state is the best political institution to solve the global problems of the 21st century? By definition you can’t solve global problems by yourself, you have to work with others and that necessitates the need for shared decision making. Something like the EU gives us a way forward to do this. Yes I agree that there is a lack of democracy in the EU, but the answer to this is to push and make the EU more democratically accountable rather than walk away,
Spot on, Andy! Well said. We need to keep a clear focus on the issue: who makes the laws for our country?
The Remain Campaign will use every dirty trick possible to win. Especially David Cam Moron, who couldn’t lie straight in bed.
The so-called “economic argument” is a feeble attempt to divert attention away from the one and only issue. That is SOVEREIGNTY first, last and always! I’m sure you remember how all this started with the EU dictatorship over-ruling our Supreme Court at every opportunity. They forced the great British people to keep terrorists in our country at our expense and at risk of life and limb. They have wrecked several of our core industries by not allowing our laws to govern us. Finally, they are a bunch of self-satisfied, corrupt bully boys whose comeuppance is not too far distant. If we leave, others are likely to follow.
Thanks for this article and for some interesting comments to which I would add these:
1. For anyone who thinks the EU isn’t democratic, I’d be grateful if you could read my post about how EU law is made. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-eu-institutions-how-does-law-making-work-stephen-dilley?trk=hp-feed-article-title-comment In the light of that, I’d interested to hear specifically what you mean when you say it isn’t democratic.
2. For people concerned about sovereignty such as Mike Stringer, here is an insight into that complex issue: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/legal-sovereignty-same-democratic-accountability-brexit-wakefield?trk=hp-feed-article-title-share . I would add to that by observing that Sovereignty is a relative concept. A Brexit that involved remaining in the Single Market like Norway or Switzerland would cede, not gain, net sovereignty. The UK would be required to comply with EU law that it had not influenced, would have to accept free movement of people and would have lost its powerful veto on both the accession of new states and the EU budget as well as influence over development of the Single Market in services, which is only around 25% developed relative to the Single Market in goods.
3. For those concerned about the price of membership, here is an interesting thought: The U.K. Govt’s debt is around £1.6 trn. That means that every 1 percentage point change in the interest rate for servicing our debt adds or subtracts £16bn pa to/from the national budget. Coincidentally, that figure is not so very far away from the Brexiteers’ £18bn per year gross payment to the EU and well above the net contribution. It seems unlikely that a Brexit scenario would therefore free up extra money (whether for the NHS or anything else). That’s without even counting any money we’d have to pay in if we adopted a Norwegian model.
4. Some posts note that the scale of the European market in the global economy has declined in relative terms. Yes – but far more importantly for the UK, the EU market has grown in absolute financial terms. It would still be the second biggest market in the world without the UK, will remain our largest export market by a significant margin, and is geographically closer than any other market.
5. I agree that in the event of a Brexit, the UK would seek to do some sort of trade deal with the EU. However, for those who say a trade deal could be done relatively quickly or easily:
(a) A new trading agreement with the EU would require the unanimous agreement of all 27 remaining EU member states. It is only Germany and the Netherlands who export more to the UK than they import. That leaves 25 members states that don’t.
(b) The EU sells 6% of its goods to the UK vs us exporting nearly 50%. See Bank of England document: EU membership and the Bank of England, October 2015, page 8. I suspect if I were selling, it would be easier to find a market for 6% of my goods than 50% of my goods, if I really needed to.
(c) The EU FTA with Canada took 5 years and 5 months to negotiate and sign. Ratification is expected to take another 2 years.
I am beginning to wish we had not been offered the referendum at all. If the vote is to leave, we may suffer financially and our security could be damaged. Why on earth would the rest of the world want to give us preferential trade agreements? If the vote is to stay, we may well be walked on even trampled by the push for more unity and more faceless control. Before this offer, we had the lever to effect change by the threat to leave, after the vote to stay, that will be redundant.
Security is best achieved by unity, ‘United we stand, divided we fall’. Do we really want to see Putin become more confident and more aggressive? Will our decision to leave cause a chain reaction, pulling everything into chaos? I worry for my Grandchildren, not for me, I’m too long in the tooth to really be affected either way, but they will have to live with the disaster, whichever is the vote. I believe the majority of the under 25’s want to remain. I think we should listen to them a bit more perhaps.
I know one shouldn’t but let’s just look at one fact . I agree that we have been misled with a figure of £350m and that the true figure is £136m. Well I am pretty sure that £136 million per week will go along way to correcting many things in this country. Since I’m talking about money is it correct that the EU financial annual figures have not been scrutinised or agreed by any accountants ever since it’s inception . No wonder they want to keep it going .
£136m sounds like a lot of money but (a) it’s less than 1% of public spending so it won’t really help pay for very much and (b) do you really think Osborne wouldn’t just give it away in tax cuts for the rich?
In answer to your second question, that’s not true. http://www.richardcorbett.org.uk/the-eu-accounts-have-never-been-signed-off/
Well, if £136 million each week [£7 billion a year] does not sound like much to you then I am sure that this £7 billion each year would be appreciated by the National Health Service.
Of course it would be greatly appreciated by the NHS, but everyone knows that there isn’t a chance that all this money will go there. I doubt even 1% would go to it.
What a wild assertion.
Where do you get the 1% from?
My old teacher used to mark my work, “Must do better”.
What on earth makes you think that this government – with its record to date, including selling off much of the NHS on the quiet – would give even a penny to the NHS? Brendan is quite right : any money saved from the EU Budget would not go to the people who need it most.
And you know this because…………?
Oh, I see because you think so.
Fair enough [I suppose].
I know it because I’m a disabled person who’s experienced the brutal callousness of the IDS regime first hand. Therefore opinion has nothing to do with it. I’ve also experienced to inabillity to get many of the services freely available on the NHS some years ago, which now you have to pay for.
But then, sarcasm always gets in the way of properly human responses, doesn’t it (rhetorical).
Your outrage is your business but you are very wide of the mark no matter how much you fulminate.
If it is accepted that a post Brexit regime does not spend an extra £7 billion a year on the NHS that is saved forom EU taxes, well it is still there in our taxpayers pockets & not in EU coffers.
Is that bad?
Do not fight the wrong fight.
To describe my mild-mannered reply as “outrage” and “fulmination” says more about you than it does about me.
As for your analysis about the “7 billion” saved – well, even Boris now admits that that figure is statistically wrong but is (I quote) “a useful tool in the debate”.
If you are for BREXIT, then I’ve not picked the “wrong fight”. Far from it.
As far as I can see, my post has yet to be published! I wonder why? Could it be that the much vaunted LSE lecturer does not agree with what I said? In the past when arguing with left wing university types, their tactic is either to shout one down or to ignore completely the point made! So much for open debate! As open and fair as the proven bias of the BBC!
That’s a very short term view. Lets say in the worst case scenario that this government is actually super corrupt and just stealing money form the poor, in a few years time they will be out anyway.
Another government may use that money better and this time in 10 years we could have a perfect health system.
It seems economy is the latest buzz word to keep people towing the line and keep them in check. Every is being brainwashed to thinking that the 5th most powerful country in the world will implode without the EU. It will not – other countries have too much to lose to stop trading with us.
It’s equally short-term to think the EU is a completely unchanging monolith, whose shortcomings (and yes, they do exist!) will never be addressed. E.g. by Britain, among others.
The NHS staffed by many EU citizens you mean? What will you do when they are required to leave NHS employment?
Where did that come from?
Who wants to expel EU citizens excepting to expel convicted criminals [which we cannot presently do]?
No sensible person asks for that.
I do hope that you support the right to expel EU criminals.
May I refer back to the first question as I think a little mare understanding is required. You mention that Osborne will not do nice things with the money? If we leave the EU surely no one is foolish enough to think that Cameron and Osborne will keep their jobs? I mean I thought that bit was obvious.The Nation has had enough of them and there will be a vote of no confidence and they will be out of a job, I thought that was readily understood after all that is what Boris is doing, he wants the top job.
Yes but the point is that the 136 Pounds a week pale in comparison to the gains to the UK from free trade with the EU. That was the upshot of the recent IFS and OBR forecasts on the costs of Brexit, both based on the NIESR model: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/may/25/ifs-brexit-extend-austerity-budget-deficit-eu-referendum
Sorry, 136 million Pounds of course
One thing that always concerns me when the remain camp talk about the loss of trade deals is this. If the EU and Britain entered a tit for tat with import taxes etc. I think the CEO’s of BMW, Audi, Volkswagen would be straight on the phone to Angie. When Obama said we will go to the back of the queue (good luck in obtaining your Scottish Whisky USA) and that’s just for starters.
Quite right Charlie Robinson! Well said.
You are right about the German car industry phoning Merkel. However, the issue here are the threats by some EU countries and by the liars in the Stay campaign led by our less than illustrious leader, the Oxford oaf! Do we really wish to be linked with countries that spend much of their time threatening us?
Spain has invaded the territorial waters of Gibraltar in recent months. They have threatened to invade Gibraltar if the UK votes to leave! I trust that if we leave the EU our response to such an act of aggression would be immediate and overwhelming! As I have suggested elsewhere, I doubt the Spanish so called armed forces have the capacity to defeat Andorra much less the UK! However, their behaviour shows the contempt in which the EU generally holds GB.
The new dictator of Europe Frau Merkel has bullied other countries with relish. Look at how she has treated the Greeks. She has tried to force other European countries to accept huge numbers of immigrants and tried to stop them from taking steps to deter illegal immigrants.
Then there is the issue of corruption and financial misbehaviour within the EU. I suppose we have a similar problem here with thieving MPs and expenses. However, we have tried to tackle the problem. What has been done in the EU? NOTHING!
In my opinion, the EU is doomed. Please take a close look at what is happening in the US. The prelude to the election is tearing the country apart and the hatred, yes Hatred, on line is really scary. If you doubt what I say, please go online to check the forums such as this. The factions in the USA. have more in common than we do in Europe, so is it likely to happen here? Many countries in the EU hate Great Britain: France (Waterloo et al), Germany (WW1 and 2), Spain (the Armada and the Falkland Islands) just to mention the most obvious ones.
In conclusion, a trading partnership similar to that Norway has with other countries is the way to got and not the overbearing EU model.
In the unlikely that Spain invaded Gibraltar there is very little Militarily we could do about it. We have no aircraft carriers and no aircraft to put on them even if we had held on to Ark Royal.
Deploying a fleet even if we could (without air cover) is tactical suicide. Spain would have overland logistics chain we would not.
If Spain took Gibraltar by force we’d have to go to the International Courts and ask nicely for them to give it back.
I confess that I only worked as an MOD Analyst for a dozen years and so, given you appear to have expertise in everything else discussed on this thread, you could well trump me on this one.
Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit! As with most of the Remain campaign, if your argument is weak, as is your one, you revert to throwing insults about.
No, I am not a specialist in military matters, but I do have a couple of friends who are! Their opinion of the Spanish armed forces is not very high and I believe they would have a much better understanding of such matters than I do.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I have a number of Spanish friends. To say the least, they are not impressed with the Spanish Government’s threat to invade. One of my military friends has suggested that the Spanish armed forces would have to attack across a narrow front that is easy to defend. I suspect, though, that numbers would win the day for Spain. However, the aircraft we have can be supported by air to air refuelling and I believe there is an airport available in Gibraltar. My understanding is that their airforce is rather poor and ours is far better equipped.
As usual with remain supporters, you have missed the point! Perhaps you wish to associate yourself with a thuggish regime, but I do not! The Spanish Government, by making the threat of military aggression, has shown the world how they would behave if they had the power. Fortunately, they do not! Perhaps you ought to read the response by Basque-spaniards to one of my previous posts!
You say you work for the Ministry of Defence. I suggest, with your attempt to denigrate the British Armed Forces, you really should look for another type of work for it is clear you do not have the best interests of the UK at heart! The idea of one NATO country (Spain) attacking another NATO country (GB) would be rather extreme but that is what the Remain campaign is – extreme! I suspect, also, that the Russian “action man” would be delighted if that happened and is over the moon with the Spanish government’s threat. If he ever gets to read your comment on this site, perhaps he may offer a job!
Finally, your post shows a strong anti-democratic point of view! You never mentioned the people of Gibraltar who really do not want to be part of Spain and have repeatedly voted against Spanish control! Interestingly, if Spain did invade Gibraltar, their European Union membership could be challenged legally as respecting the status quo of Gibraltar was a key part of Spain’s application!
“Many countries in the EU hate Great Britain: France (Waterloo et al), Germany (WW1 and 2), Spain (the Armada and the Falkland Islands) just to mention the most obvious ones”
And of course USA (War of Independence), Japan (WW2) , China (Opium Wars) and some of our other new chums must hate us too by your logic.
By the way, we are the United Kingdom not Great Britain
Patrick, your observations are reasonable, but you overlook several points. Firstly, we lost the American War of Independence, so the Yanks are not so harsh on us. Secondly, the USA finished off Japan not Great Britain, so they are more fond of us. We buy a goodly number of Japanese cars, so that is in our favour. I could go on, but feel the point is made. By the way, it is not for you to dictate what we call this country! If I wish, I shall call it Great Britain.
Mike, you are confused.
GREAT BRITAIN consists of England, Scotland and Wales.
THE UNITED KINGDOM consists of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
I have to say, it is difficult to take your opinions seriously when you don’t know the name of your own country.
However you are of course free to continue to arrogantly use whatever term you like, even if it is incorrect……
Sorry Mike – it’s me again.
To use your logic- since we buy a goodly number of French and German cars, that must be in our favour.
Of course we also helped liberate France at the end of WW2, so that must be in our favour too. They might even have forgotten about Waterloo by now, who knows?
We help the Spanish economy with our millions of tourists so I suppose they might just about have forgiven us for the Armada.
I guess it could be argued that we were losing WW2 until the US joined us so, like the Japanese, the Germans might be more “fond of us”
However, Italy is another matter. They are still very sore about the way we attacked the Roman legions.
I’m afraid I am very busy at the moment, so to be brief. Once again, nothing more than low level sarcasm from the Remain side.
Again, a very serious mistake in your post about how various nations like/dislike us. You say were were losing WW2 until the USA joined in on 8/12/1941.Ever heard of the Battle of Britain? Ever hear of a country called the Soviet Union (USSR)? I believe they had just a tiny part to play and lost more killed than UK, USA, Italy and Japan combined! The Russian action man will not be pleased with you! Please take great care, the Russians it seems may come after you with Plutonian or a sharp needle in an umbrella!
Do not know much about preChristian history in Europe, but believe it may have been the Huns who stopped the Legions of Rome.
If you really believe the EU loves us, then vote remain by all means, but don’t blame me when, in the near future, all he’ll breaks out in the EU.
I am also very busy.
You seem to have a sense of humour failure. All this garbage about who likes us and who doesn’t, based on events that happened centuries ago, is just childish nonsense.
Again, a very serious mistake in your reply – as you respectfully admit, you don’t know much about pre-Christian history but I think you’ll find that there were no Huns in Britain in Roman times.
However, I am glad to see that you have not come back on the Great Britain v United Kingdom subject, so at least I have educated you a little bit!
Spain has not threatened to invade Gibraltar. Spain and the UK are both NATO members and there is absolutely no chance of conflict between them. Which you’d know if you knew anything at all about international relations, the subject of this article.
You’re doing great Mike. Thanks for all your arguments and reasoning. I’m in complete agreement with you !
I have been following this thread as I hoped to find some impartial information to help guide me in which way to vote next week, and have found myself experiencing a mix of emotions,especially at the comments of Mr Stringer. Initially I felt frustration that he seemed to jump in with his opinions apparently without reading other person’s threads in detail; then I felt increasing dismay at the low level of courtesy and high level of aggression in the various posts from a variety of contributors; then I moved on to increasing incredulity that such posts could actually appear on an LSE moderated thread; and then, I had a sudden moment of typical post-modern illumination and realised that I had hit on a new conspiracy theory! Mike Stringer is not a real person; the LSE moderators have created a spoof persona to ‘string’ us along by aggressively asserting the ‘Leave EU’ position, in such a way as to discredit the Leave position altogether. Genius! 😉
Baba – oh my I just love your reply!
Here’s the counter argument (i.e. in favour of Britain leaving the EU) if anyone’s interested: http://www.eureferendum.com/themarketsolution.pdf & the longer version: http://www.eureferendum.com/documents/flexcit.pdf
Yeah, but where are the credentials. Dr North’s qualifications are in public sector food-poisoning surveillance. In comparison to an LSE Professor, let’s restrict his opinions to that domain.
Having read the counter argument, I am even more convinced that we need to remain in the EU.
Dr Richard A E North – what are his credentials? Is he not also a climate change denier? Didn’t he destroy the career of Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), accusing him of using his position for personal gain, only to be found totally wrong and the Telegraph having to retract the article and apologise?
Like his saying, “if being wrong gets one closer to the truth – as it does – then it is worth putting up half-formed speculation and letting the debate rage.” Clearly his little papers are wrong and misguided, but it has led to a very good article presented here by Nicholas Barr
I think one should bear in mind that the negotiated ‘opt-out’ from ‘ever-closer union’ doesn’t really have any legal force; it has not yet been voted on by the European Parliament, and in any case will not prevent future UK politicians into being pressured to agree to further political integration, possibly against the will of the majority of UK voters. (Interestingly, Graf Lambsdorff of the European Parliament seems to claim that any agreement secured by David Cameron from other members of the European Council was not legally binding – see http://www.euractiv.com/section/uk-europe/interview/graf-lambsdorff-eu-clearly-went-too-far-in-brexit-concessions/). It may not be wise in the long run for the UK to remain a member of the EU when the majority of European voters desire a far greater degree of political integration than the majority of UK voters.
Thank you for this intelligent and well-reasoned article, in which you back up your case by statistics, quotes and useful references.
It is such a pity that the Brexit case is so often made from a position of emotional reaction ranging from fury to fear, but usually uninformed by ‘inconvenient truths’.
David Ellis’s point about the negotiated opt-out is sound and definitely thought-provoking, but I do not think that – on its own – it provides a good enough case for leaving. There are too many other factors, of which the economic and security issues alone are too large to even consider turning our backs on.
The EU is a slow self fulfilling administration of mediocrity.
It takes years to agree on anything because each member state is concerned with its own interests.
It has failed to act cohesively over the refugee crisis.
It failed go fix the Ukraine crisis.
The potential for war surfaces quickly as a tgreat – why then believe we are truly friends in this EU?
Recent discussions with albeit a few Europeans resulted in them saying they wanted us to remain for the EU would begin to break up if we leave. Suggests to me then that its already a fractured jig saw puzzle.
Look to France just now – they continue to strike, strike , strike – how has the EU changed yhem? Their employment rights are at risk because they cannot compete or survive in the global competitive world.
If UK is so important to the EU why were most of our remain demands unmet?
This administration will lead Europe to a place it can never get back from and it will be too late. Meantime those architects of the catastrophe will have long gone, enjoying their massive pensions after years of milking the system.
A great reasoned argument Nicholas. Here are my thoughts on the matter https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/shall-i-stay-go-peter-cook
And what it Uk leave EU zone?
Is possible for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to make referendum about leaving UK?
It’s an interesting read. But, it’s not exactly a balanced article. For example, and in no particular order:
On the subject of trade; the author fails to mention the important facts, that in terms of overall share of world trade, the EU is in decline. And, that our share of trade with the EU is also in decline. Whilst it’s hard to predict the future, this decline looks to be accelerating and irreversible.
The author fails to point out that the EU single market is an aggressively protectionist construct. It actively discriminates against producers in developing countries. As a result, prosperity in the developing world is held back, making it harder to create wealth, social cohesion and stability. One could argue that the EU is directly and indirectly contributing to conflict and upheaval.
On economic sovereignty. The ability of companies such as Netflix to sell services on a cross border basis has nothing to do with a loss of economic sovereignty and everything to do with innovation and the ability to create products and services that people want to consume. The track record of the EU suggests that the instinct of the EU is to actually stifle innovation and creativity. It is open to debate as to whether a Netflix, Amazon or Uber, could ever be born in the EU and certainly not in the Euro Zone.
On international reach. After a Brexit, the UK would not be separating itself from its own continent. That would be geographically and geologically impossible. And, in any case, Brexit is not about leaving Europe., It’s about withdrawing from the anachronistic concept that is the EU.
On democracy, which, in my view is the key issue. Trying to compare the UK civil service with the European Commission, is plain wrong. The UK civil service exists to enact the executive decisions of directly elected UK parliamentarians – that is it, end of. The UK civil service has no ability to enact or propose legislation. On the other hand, the MEP’s of the European parliament have no ability to bring forward legislation. They are there to rubber stamp legislation, brought forward by unelected bureaucrats.
Peace in Europe, since 1945 has been guaranteed exclusively by NATO and underpinned mainly by the UK and USA. The EU, in its various guises, has been, by and large, incidental to that peace. Especially when you consider, that for most of the 2nd half of the 20th Century, the threat had been from that other undemocratic monster, the USSR. In fact, there exists plenty of evidence that diplomatic blundering by the EU has contributed to conflict and instability within Europe.
The EU is not the world’s largest economy. That would be the USA. And, when you remove Germany, UK, France and Italy from the equation, the rest of the EU combined doesn’t make the top 10. One has to wonder how the USA, China and Japan manage to get by without access to the single market or trade agreements with the EU?
I haven’t mentioned the catastrophe that is the Euro Zone. Whilst for now, the UK is apart from it, there is no guarantee, at all, that we’ll be spared the on-going collateral damage.
Far from being balanced, this article starts from the premise that the EU is the answer, then goes on to bend a series of outdated ideas and plain wrong assertions into making a case to remain . Which is a shame, but, then again, it’s the LSE.
I sought to read this article to see things from the other side of the fence. I too was disappointed by the shallowness of the arguments presented with references to arguably biased sources. The main failing though was that, in common with a lot of discourse from those wanting to remain, there was plenty of speculation masquerading as fact and very little pertinent to a key part of the Leave argument about democracy.
The fundamental issue of this referendum is about the democratic principle of being able to vote against the people making your laws.
But we don’t even have this in this country with our voting system. Margaret Thatcher was allowed to dictate to this country (the UK) even though the majority of people in Scotland voted against her! And over 50% of the electorate voted against her. No doubt there are many reforms necessary in the EU, but many other European countries have more democratic systems in place than we do here. We could learn from them!
No, Giles Moger, it isn’t! It is about the context in which the governments that you elect can operate! The EU does not affect our electoral system, places very little restriction on the choices made by our governments, other than by ensuring certain fundamental rights for those who have no other recourse. As such it acts to insure the minorities that out clumsy confrontational election system ignores and neglects. Do I feel represented at Westminster? No! Is that the fault of the EU? No! Would it change for the bettet if we left the EU? It would get significantly worse unless ‘our democracy’ underwent significant change to make it genuinely representative, and a victory for the Leave campaign would rule that out for a generation!
Thanks Giles. Please could you clarify? We do vote for MEPs who sit in the EU Parliament, one of the 2 legislative bodies of the EU. See my post here on the subject: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-eu-institutions-how-does-law-making-work-stephen-dilley?trk=prof-post
Indeed – and we also need to consider the fact that the EU cannot successfully negotiate trade deals. The deal with Canada which has been much touted is not going ahead because Rumania is upset about visa requirements for Romanian citizens visiting Canada. The EU trade deal with Australia is not going ahead because of a dispute with Italian tomato growers. Britain could make its own trade deals far quicker and easier than the EU by bilateral agreements that match its own interests
It’s not true to say “The track record of the EU suggests that the instinct of the EU is to actually stifle innovation and creativity”. Just look at yesterday’s Guardian article: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jun/02/eu-commission-backs-sharing-economy-uber-airbnb which reports that the European Commission has told member governments to stop trying to suppress innovative products and services like AirBnB and Uber
Rather disingeuous the way sovereignty was brushed over
We have sovereignty because we can leave, in other words we are no longer a sovereign state, EU law holds sway
Laws are now made that effect us, by people we neither elect nor have the power to remove
Regaining sovereign powers is to me the essence of the matter, I also strongly suspect that the economy will trundle along pretty much the same, wether we leave or stay, given that lets leave, we have a strong hand to play, far stronger than the pessimistic account above portrays
When I originally voted to join the EU in 1973 it was expressly stated that it was to be part of a trading bloc, the European Coal and Steel Community. At no time during the campaign was it suggested that it was to be a political union although Heath later admitted on TV that it was always the intention. This has been shown to be so as successive governments have behaved with extraordinary deceit to deny our electorate an opportunity to ratify further integration on Maastricht and Lisbon, deliberate deceit being high on their agenda.I now have complete distrust in the whole organisationand my government and any suggestion that we can be part of a reformed EU is ludicrous as demonstrated by David Cameron having to prostitute himself around Europe to gain ……….nowt.
Well said Kevin Leary! Like you I voted to join the EU. You are completely right that political integration was NOT mentioned and I seem to remember the sailor boy, Heath, admitting that the hidden agenda was a United States of Europe.
I really like your imagery of David Cam Moron prostituting himself around Europe. Perhaps he did learn something from his time at Oxford! If the reports are true he had some practice whilst there. What I find more ludicrous are his attempts on TV to show that he achieved great things for Great Britain. You are right, he achieved exactly nowt. He reminds me, in his antics, of Squealer in Orwell’s Animal Farm. Especially in Squealer’s great alteration: All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others. Parallels of the Moron’s “We are all in this together.” It appears as if the Moron has an affinity with pigs. What he fails to say is that everyone has their nose in the EU trough except Great Britain!
We never voted to join the EEC, either in 1973 nor in 1975 (the year of the previous referendum). In 1975 we were already in the EEC, and the referendum – like the recent one – was asking if we wanted to remain in Europe, or to leave.
The export diagram makes me laugh, when I lived in Ireland most of the beef was English and now living back in the UK it’s mainly Irish. How about we feed ourselves with local produce. The more I read on it makes me beleive that no is the right answer, I don’t want to be told what we can and can’t do. Can you imagine how the NHS would cope with the immigration levels, it’s already struggling. Vote NO
You seem to overlook the fact that the NHS is staffed heavily with EU citizens and foreign nationals.Wait for the brain drain then watch the NHS cope..
My wife is nurse of some 15 years, and she, along with many of her patients, actually struggle (communicatively and culturally) more with NHS employees from within the EU than those from outside, mainly because those from outside have more scrutiny placed on them (in terms of language, experience etc.). However, it is significantly more difficult to err towards non-EU workers when the EU pool is the ‘preferred partner’, shall we say.
That said, I suppose there are a large number of EU nationals using the NHS (UK-based, tax contributors before anyone jumps on that band-waggon), particularly in the London area that may well prefer someone that can speak in their native tongue in a time of crisis…
My gut, and the lack of a post-Brexit plan from the ‘Out’ campaign is to ‘Remain’; however the closer we get, the more I’m picking at each argument trying to find a balance. I guess this is a polite (and ‘oh so English’) apology that yours is one such argument. I do however mean it in a conversive way, rather than ‘dissing’ your contribution.
The larger concern should be how we retain the domestic medial talent who now see Australia, US etc. as an escape from the current ails and politics of the NHS?!
It’s an interesting article, cleverly written, purporting to be balanced, independent and based on data. However most of it is purely opinion. Some key facts are omitted, some statements are misleading and data has been cherry picked. In addition to the points made by Colin McQuade…
Trade: Export figures are wrong. The figure is around 44% and declining. However this is fundamentally irrelevant – there remains no reason why we wouldn’t still be trading with the EU…but we would not be bound by a common customs tariff on the rest of the world.
Schengen Agreement opt out – This only means we check passports. It doesn’t prevent free movement.
Economists ‘expertise’ – We keep hearing from “the majority of economists” about a negative economic impact of leaving the EU. Their track record hardly inspires confidence:
Not surprising though. Funding for these ‘respected independent intuitions’ is at least in part by the state (whether national governments or EU). Whoever pays the piper calls the tune.
Sovereignty – The article is silent on the issue that the EU is responsible for somewhere between 59% and 65% of our laws.
The BBC put the figure at 59% on the recent Paxman documentary.
EU Funding – You can cut statistics in any way you want. Either way you look at it, we are a net contributor to the EU of around £6.5bn. You have to make a judgement on whether the membership fee is worth it.
Net financial contribution of migrants – is based on data from 2001-11. Recent data from 2014/15 demonstrates the those in the UK from other European Economic Area countries, whatever their date of arrival, cost the Exchequer £1.2 billion or over £3 million a day. It also contributes to our population increase of half a million every year – roughly a city the size of Liverpool. On top of this, the migrant crisis will make this far worse and the figures also don’t take into account pressures on housing, house prices, quality of education, healthcare, congestion, public services, crime, social issues etc etc
The reasons why UK wouldn’t be trading with the EU was made clear. The EU is bound by agreement to trade with the EU and US. If UK opts out then the agreements change. There will be a new set of rules for the UK. As the author says, why would the US prefer trade with the UK of 60 million when the EU offers 500 millions. Thew US president says they prefer the UK to stay in and said the relationship would change if the UK left.
I am sure that many Brexit supporters have not really thought the matter through. These people are impressed by patriotic pro-English propaganda. I may be wrong but I suspect that it is pro English rather than pro British. The emotion engendered resembles the climax of the St Crispin’s day speech from Shakespeare’s “Henry V”:
“From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day”
An interesting thought, but please remember: when Shakespeare was writing the United Kingdom did not exist. However, full marks for getting the quotation and the play correct.
Sadly, I believe you are wrong about Brexit being pro English. There is substantial evidence that large numbers in Scotland and Wales support the Leave idea. Unfortunately, I have not seen any statistics for Northern Ireland.
Like you, I am convinced that many people have not thought through the issues. However, many, if not all, are on the Remain side. The issue is quite clear: who makes the law for the UK? At present, the EU does about 60% of the time. Further, many of the European nations do not like the UK for historical reasons. That is why so many critical points go against us.
Finally, please consider the way the UK is treated within the EU. German car makers lie about engine emissions. They agree to compensate American car owners, but NOT British owners! Spain threatens to invade Gib if we vote out! France really does not address the issue of illegal migrants at Calais and so on. Do we really want to be in business with such thugs and telling us what laws we MUST have?
Having read the reasons to remain in the eu I thought it only polite to read them through and see if they were correct.
IMO, being in the eu only benefits the political elite. (The new masters) and their sycophantic hangers on.
It’s totally geared against the ordinary person in the street, (the new slaves).
Here’s the list down below in numerical order.
1. Over 3 million jobs? How many of these jobs are in the European Parliament?
How many have been lost due the demise of our fishing, steel, mining and shipbuilding industries?
How many have been taken by illegal immigrants working for below the legal hourly rate as well as claiming benefits?
2. Lower prices in shops? Isn’t this due to increased trade with China and India where goods are made with less red tape and lower overheads?
Food however, is more expensive due to the CAP.
2. 60 years of peace in Europe? That’s due to NATO & the UN, it’s nothing to do with the eu. In fact, the longer the eu is allowed to exist, the greater the chance of a European war!
4. 44% of our exports which means, despite the eu enforced restrictions, we’re STILL exporting 56% of our goods to the rest of the world. This will increase significantly when we leave.
5. 500 million consumers within the eu is about right which means there’s approximately 6.5 BILLION consumers in the rest of the world.
India & China alone number around 2 billion people.
6. Cheaper flights are due to the competition from low cost airlines such as Ryanair, easy jet, jet 2 etc.
The eu didn’t help virgin when they were undercutting BA, Lufthansa, Air France & Alitalia etc.
7. Paid holiday leave has been around since the early 20th century. It was secured by the British trades unions, the eu hadn’t even been inaugurated then!
8. Maternity leave was again secured by the British trades unions and not the eu. Paternity leave was an eu idea but it’s accepted throughout the business sector as expensive, unnecessary and wasteful.
All the decent men don’t take it!
9. Equal pay was once again secured by British trades unions. What has the ‘IN’ campaigners got against trades unions? They’ve ignored their achievements an awful lot!
10. Stronger voice in the world? We’re joint founders of the UN, (when it was called the League of Nations) & founding members of NATO. We’ve a strong enough voice in the world without the corrupt eu!
11. Consumer protection has been around since well before we joined the eu. We had the trades description act, trading standards department, consumer standards & the citizens advice bureau whilst the rest of Europe didn’t!
12. Compensation for delayed flights has been around since the advent of the package holiday. (Holiday insurance, ABTA).
13. Arts and culture has been around for hundreds of years, the eu hasn’t! These will continue to have philanthropic patrons as they always have had.
14. Cleaner air is a world wide problem which will only be conquered by the likes of government co-operation and the UN council.
15. Rules on working hours, once again, British trades unions. The EU DID issue the time directive capped at 48 hours but it was a voluntary ‘opt in’.
16. Cheaper mobile calls was caused by increased competition not the eu.
17. Tackling tax avoidance? This one’s priceless! There’s untold numbers of politicians with secret offshore trusts, huge chains like Google, Starbucks, MacDonalds etc are paying much less than their fair share, (which amounts to billions) & thousands of immigrants working in the black economy.
18. Visa free travel has done much more harm than good. We’ve no idea who is travelling around Europe unchecked, unhindered and un-noticed. The huge increase in robberies, rapes, murders, civil unrest and terrorism is testimony to that. Restoring border controls should be a top priority!
19. People from the uk have been working in Europe and vice versa for years and years. All that was needed was the correct paperwork, just as it is now!
20. Funding for our regions? This makes it seem as if the money is coming from the kind, benevolent eu when in fact it comes from the UK to the eu in the first place. Every time there’s a middle man involved there’s always a commission to pay so why don’t we cut out the eu and fund our regions direct from Westminster? That way we can keep a better track on taxpayers money and it’ll be much cheaper!
21. Opportunities for young people?
There’s countless opportunities for the adventurous young ‘uns both here in the UK and throughout the rest of the world. (Backpackers spring to mind).
22. Funding for start ups? Refer to point 20.
23. Overseas studies has been going on since well before the eu. I remember foreign students at Sunderland polytechnic in the 1960’s. Schemes like foreign student exchange and the U.K. being world famous for its foreign student admissions.
24. Safer food standards? The U.K. has had health and hygiene standards for years, we didn’t need the eu to implement food standards.
25. Stronger animal rights? Why has the eu allowed bullfighting, cock fighting, fox hunting and dog fighting to name but a few of these barbaric acts to carry on? Why haven’t they been stopped?
26. Rights for part time workers, once again, British trades unions!
27. Tariff free single market? No, it isn’t, there’s still import duty to pay on transactions between European countries, I know this because I’ve paid them!
28. Product safety standards? False. We’ve had trading standards for decades.
29. Standards in the workplace?
(Sighs heavily) British trades unions once again are being ignored!
30. Patent and copyrights? Once again the British led the way in this field without any help from the eu. It’s much easier to buy counterfeit goods in Europe than you can in the uk!
31. Free healthcare? Only for foreigners ripping off our NHS! The ‘reciprocal medical arrangement’ with other countries is quite often useless. The much safer course of action is to take out an annual private medical insurance, that isn’t free that’s for sure!
32. Cleaner beaches and waterways was kick started in the 1960’s to reverse the trend of dumping coal mining waste from the beaches, shipyard waste from our rivers and re-instating our canal networks from years of neglect into a viable tourist industry. (The latter being started by volunteers if I’m not mistaken).
33. EU wide counter terrorism?
Before we had the eu we had Interpol but since the introduction of the eu open border policy coupled with mass, unchecked immigration the threat of terrorism has never been higher.
34. Discrimination? This helps everyone except each countries indigenous population. The whole of Europe is sick of foreigners playing the race card. It’s caused problems and resentment!
35. Strong wildlife protection? What wildlife do we have in Europe? If it’s Africa they mean then they’ve failed miserably, poaching is still widespread!
36. Individual countries have invested in science since the beginning of the industrial revolution, (which was started in Great Britain by the way), and will continue to do so without the eu acting as an unnecessary middleman.
37. European arrest warrant? The extradition treaty worked much better, various national police forces liaised with each other without any problems and that was before mobile phones, computers and the Internet!
38. Improved standards for farm animals? So what about cruel live animal transportation, the goose liver pate trade, veal farming, battery egg farming and the barbaric halal slaughter all being allowed within the eu?
All these false claims made by the ‘remainians’ coupled with the fraud, corruption and complete waste of money on a regular basis by the eu is ample reason to vote to leave!
We’d create history by leading the way to the demise of this corrupt organisation and regaining control of our sovereign nation!
I’m afraid I had to stop reading your response at point 8. What a tragically outdated and frankly sexist view of the world.
I read through and point 1 gives us illegal immigrants working for below minimum wage, claiming benefits!
Firstly, exiting the EU won’t prevent Illegal immigrants. Secondly, if they are Illegal the can’t claim benefits.
This illogical pseudo racist argument seems to be the level of this blinkered pro leave campaigner.
Well done that man! I think you have covered just about everything there, and I agree with all you have stated. I am also voting for leave, and most of the people I know have said that enough is enough. We have been lied to, robbed blind, had our industries stolen from us, bit by bit and it is time we all stood firm and said, no more!
When we leave, we can soon sort out trading with the rest of the world, decide who can stay and who can definitely get back from where they came, and the rest of the EU states will probably follow the British example, and have their own referendum, leaving the corrupt EU like a pack of rats from a sinking ship. Roll on 24th June, when Britain can claim Independence Day!
“The EU is not the world’s largest economy.”
This is false. Please do a quick google check.
“That would be the USA. And, when you remove Germany, UK, France and Italy from the equation, the rest of the EU combined doesn’t make the top 10.”
Again totally false! Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Poland and Sweden alone are bigger than UK as an economy. Probably two times bigger. Just do the math. It is not so difficult… Dont be so blind.
“One has to wonder how the USA, China and Japan manage to get by without access to the single market or trade agreements with the EU?”
1) They are not 50km away from EU
2) These 3 countries are several times larger than UK. Their economies are significant to the world GDP while you can´t even see UK on a pie chart of the world.
Britain is no longer a vast empire. I am sorry.
If Britain wants to commit suicide, you have the right to do so. The rest of the world will move on.
I really must take issue with your list of out of date and incorrect ‘facts’. According to the IMF’s own figures, whcih are conveniently collated here https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal) you are talking garbage. The only bits of your post that are correct are the thing about the empire and fact that the US, China And Japan are a long way away.
Are you an American? What’s with ‘two times bigger’ and ‘do the math’? Are you even able to vote here?
However, your arguments are spot on!
It is refreshing to read an argument that is backed by referenced research and data, and that has been contemplated by someone with many years of experience in the field of economics.
I wish more of the public could read pieces such as this rather politically-motivated newspapers or, most-worryingly, beer mats.
People rage on about this whole ‘ever closer union’ thing, but in my opinion its a good thing – looking forward (and i mean way forward, out of our lifetimes i suspect), as a species we need to get past nationalism and the xenophobia that comes with it, if we want to avoid destroying ourselves. The way to do that, in my opinion, is a slow process of unification heading to an eventual one world government. We need to stop thinking of ourselves in terms of which bit of the planet we happen to have been born on, and move toward thinking of ourselves as simply people who live in the world – and that will never happen while we are split into hundreds of individual countries concerned with their own self interest.
Just my opinion, and i’m sure a huge number of people will take great exception to it, but id argue that is a product of the nationalism and xenophobia that we need to leave behind.
I’m with you on this my friend 🙂
Most sensible thing I’ve read in this whole argument.
I’m happy for the other countries in Europe to form ever closer union.
With no knowledge whatsoever I, instinctively, lean towards remaining in the EU. However, I have been looking for clear, concise, arguments on both sides to check that I am not deluding myself. The quality of debate on both sides has been woeful, with a tendency for both sides to start off on a reasonable tack only to fall into the language of the playground; “it just is!” or “I’m right and you’re wrong”.
I had started Nicholas Barr’s piece with hope in my heart that this would be the beginning of a thread that would help me make a reasoned choice rather than an emotional one. The first reply shot that down in flames. I persevered and have had my eyes opened to arguments I had not previously considered.
And then we came to Colin McQuade’s reply which started so well: ‘It’s an interesting read. But, it’s not exactly a balanced article. For example, and in no particular order:…’. However, as soon as we got to the last time it lost all credibility, ‘but, then again, it’s the LSE’.
Why undermine your argument with name calling? Did they not accept you when you applied? Did you get your car clamped when you parked on their campus? Do they stock the wrong kind of biscuits in the canteen?
OK I love that people are passionate about this but please give us in the ‘want to make an informed judgement camp’ a chance.
I’ve been in exactly the same boat for some time now. However something rather unexpected happened this weekend when someone with no interest or knowledge in the subject piped up to say: “but if you got a balanced and factual argument from both sides, you’d still be in the same boat – not knowing which way to vote”.
I thought that was completely absurd and narrow minded, but then maybe he has a point.
The argument as a whole is enormous, as is the data each side uses to their own end. To process all of this data is a near-impossible task, So I’ve taken out all of the issues I (broadly) have no issue with (e.g. immigration) and those I think are red herrings (sovereignty, which is a near fictional notion in a globalised world, short of becoming the next North Korea).
Everyone needs to have their own ‘thing’. What do yo think it boils down to. Then at least you can focus on those arguments and their outcomes.
I’m still swinging back-and-forth; however I’ve distilled down to what I think it boils down to for me.
The entry of the UK into the ECC in 1972 was very understandable given the undertakings of politicians from all sides that we thought we could then trust to be honourable. I continued to believe that myth until the 1990’s with the realisation that they all blatantly lied to my nation. It was no accident because the original Treaties, that no layman could have understood, made it clear to the Civil servants involved that the European project was to end with a de facto United States of Europe. The British people have never been beholden to the wiles of foreign powers and would never have willingly signed up to this contract had they been aware.
The article is well written but it quotes many facts taking from natural Remain sources such as the LSE, a favourite source of much left wing propaganda. Many comments from politicians have caveats excusing their recent conversion to the Remain camp for economic reasons ignoring the most important issue. Who should govern a sovereign state? We should ask what price is there on freedom to decide that fact? Perhaps we should ask those that have suffered the lack of such freedom before we mark our cross in the box on the 23rd June. Money (economics) should play no part in justifying loss of the right to govern ourselves. Freedom is priceless.
Interesting article, which – understandably – focusses on the economic aspects of EU membership. It would be interesting to hear the author’s thoughts on the cultural considerations. This year alone, I believe Germany has already accepted around 1 million refugees from the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa, large numbers of them Muslim. By 2025, Germany needs a further 6 million immigrants in order to counter, numerically, its demographic crisis. Does the author expect those immigrants to assimilate into German (etc.) culture or can we expect to see more civic strife as the numbers rise?
I am a woman who has been on maternity leave for the last 5 years. I am a foreigner who has been living in the UK for the last 9 years. I am not that clever as you guys. I will vote for remaining in the EU because I believe people are stronger united, when they learn to accept differences, and in arguments look for solutions.
I compare the EU with marriage: my husband doesn’t like my certain hobbies, I criticize some of his, however, we have been married for 14 years because we know that we are stronger together.
I read Barr’s article with hope to understand and be able to explain to other mothers of my child’s school what the referendum is about as some don’t know even this. But I came to the conclusion that any fact can be used to defend the in and the out vote and I am not even sure that some figures are true.
I also noticed that some people vote emotionally not rationally and the ones with strong views are those that don’t want any facts and arguments. I speak about mothers of young kids.
No one would doubt that we are stronger co-operating, what is doubtful is whether the EU is the best way to do it.
The EU is basically yesterday’s answer to the day before yesterday’s problem, namely France and Germany fighting each other. What worked for 6 countries then does not scale up to the current 28 with more to join. It is leading to inertia and massive waste.
The best organisations are those that are the least decentralised, with the ability to take quick decisions locally. The EU actively discourages that. It’s resulting one size fits all rules are inappropriate for a continent as diverse as Europe.
Good luck with your marriage, although would it have worked as well with 28 of you to get agreement on what to buy for dinner every day? I think not. That is the difference.
We should remember the thousands of young soldiers who died for England in two world wars, they gave there
lives so we could be free. Since joining the EU we have aloud thousands and thousands of immigrants to enter our Country never checked for any criminal activity, rape, murder and pedophilia also for any serious illnesses. Australia does this, ask yourself why we do not. Our soldiers should be looking after borders in this Country because we pay for them to protect us but being in the Eu prevents this. What kind of a PM do we have to allow this, should we vote to stay?. Or should we vote to leave to protect our future. I am for one fed up with the scare tactics we have seen and can see no benefit for us to remain, the real people will do the right thing and let us rule our once great Country come on you know it makes sense. TRUE FULLY KENNY.
So its the Donald Trump ploy is it? All the immigrants who enter are rapists , murderer and pedophiles. And yo would no doubt be the first to criticise Trump…. Australia is a bad example of what to do with immigrants as they have been heavily criticised by human rights foundations for their treatment of refugees. And rightfully so. Their governments have been a running joke for a few years now. BTW its also interesting to note their last two Prime Ministers have been British born. No surprise that whenever Brits get involved the xenophobic factor increases.
Bearing in mi d that not only did British soldiers die for the UK, but many thousands of Commonwealth soldiers did too.
If you can’t the benefits of remaining then you need to get out more….
Maybe we should not have opted OUT of ECRIS….
Please don’t use the ‘thousands died in WW2’ argument.
Churchill was pro-European and is thought of as a founding of the EU.
He tried to form an Anglo-French Union in 1940 with the intent of effectively dual nationality for all citizens of both countries but Germany’s invasion naturally scuppered those plans.
My grandfathers fought in WW2 and I object to you presuming their fight could somehow be used 70 years later to justify xenophobic isolationism.
I am not entirely sure that Churchill was as pro the idea of a European union as you claim. I always understood that he suggested British-French union in 1940 in the vain hope that this would keep France in the war against the Axis nations and prevent them making a separate peace. Indeed, I thought he made the suggestion after the German invasion of the West on 10 May 1940, not before it as your post implies; but, I stand under correction here. He certainly did resist the dissolution of the British Empire and, I believe, favoured maintaining the closest economic and political links with the Commonwealth, which the UK deliberately turned her back on when she joined the EEC. As someone from a Commonwealth nation I think that the UK made a mistake in turning her back on the Commonwealth in such a decided manner.
Before discussing the world wars, it may be helpful if I mention that both of my parents served in the Second World War; my father in airborne forces and an uncle, serving in an armoured division, was killed in Italy in 1944. My grandfather served in the First World War and a great-uncle was killed on the Somme in 1916. My great-grandfather served in the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) and was awarded the DCM for bravery on the battlefield. I have served in the British Army in the Balkans and Afghanistan.
I think that the mention of casualties in both world wars is germane to this discussion because it serves as a reminder of the fact that twice in the 20th Century the nations of the British Empire, following the UK’s lead, were willing to fight to preserve certain principles which are the foundation of the contemporary worldview of Western liberal societies, such as freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom to vote for one’s political leaders, and – absolutely basic to the whole Western worldview – the necessity of leisure to pursue the liberal arts in order to contemplate reality and arrive at the truth. I fully accept that it is paradoxical that large parts of the Empire did not enjoy these very freedoms for which so many were willing to fight; but it could be argued that the experience of soldiers from all parts of the Empire fighting side-by-side helped to bring about the realisation in both the British governing class and in the different nations within the Empire that these freedoms are truly fundamental and that the peoples within the Empire were ready to enshrine them in their respective constitutions drawn up at independence. Whether or not the freedoms has been retained in all of these nations after independence is another matter. The question of whether or not remaining in the EU reinforces or undermines these basic freedoms is, therefore, a factor which should be considered in the whole ‘Brexit’ debate. If it is believed that remaining in the EU undermines these freedoms, then it shows a lack of respect for the sacrifices of our forebears who fought to preserve them. (Please note, I say “if”; I myself do not know whether remaining will undermine these freedoms.)
As an aside, mention of British and Commonwealth casualties should remind us that all other European nations, both in and out of the EU, have also experienced similar (in fact, often far greater) losses in the two world wars and we should not belittle the widespread loss of life on all sides in our own internal debate about whether or not to remain in the EU by resorting to allegations of ‘xenophobia’ and ‘isolationism’. Surely we can have a rational, dispassionate debate about the question of what it was that so many people around the world died for in the world wars and in the various wars connected with the dissolution of empires since 1945 without muddying the waters by unpleasant accusations?
In terms of the ‘Brexit’ debate, surely the concern that British citizens have of protecting political and social freedoms from centralised and ‘remote’ governments is a key issue; and, surely, therefore, the question of what our forebears were willing to risk and to sacrifice to preserve those freedoms in the past is helpful in clarifying our thinking on the issue today?
The Result of the EU referendum will be a close-run thing- and UK will be a divided kingdom. This will leave it open to China’s greater influence on our infrastructure and (despite China;s continued assertion that it doesn’t interfere in another nations politics) the social and political life of our country. Infrastructure is automatically politics and government. Of course, our Parliament will believe that to be a Good Thing financially.
Like many people, I think the author of this report is intellectualising the subject, without looking at things from the point of view of the population of the UK. The key issue for me is whether remaining in the EU will improve the quality of life of the individuals who live here. I believe that the population as a whole will be better off if we leave the EU.
Firstly, let me say that I do not own this country just because I was born in the UK. In my own mind, I don’t feel like I have the right to tell anyone else what to do. But I do have the right to vote, so this is why I’m going to vote for Brexit.
I feel like the year on year expansion of population in the UK is untenable in the long term. Our infrastructure can cope with a large population, but the costs to the economy for perpetual expansion is an ever-increasing cost of new infrastructure. Putting it simply, the growth in our population means we need new hospitals, new schools, new houses, new roads, etc.
I feel like the UK infrastructure is like an elastic band – and at the moment it is stretched to the point where it is close to breaking.
There has to be a cap on the number of people living in the UK. I don’t know where that cap is, but I suspect it is nearer 60m than the 65m+ that we now have. More importantly, I believe the UK Government should have the ability to decide what that cap is.
However, EU freedom of movement rules means that we don’t have control over the number of people in the UK. We don’t even know how many people are here at the moment.
I am very much in favour of immigration to the UK, and am very much in favour of foreigners being given the right to live and work in the UK, and these do not have to be high paid jobs. Just because we come out of the EU, it does not follow that EU Nationals currently working in the UK have to leave. But we have to be able to know who is coming to the UK and why. We do this already for every country other than EU countries. I am in favour of economic migrants and emergency immigration, as historically the people who have fought hardest to become citizens of the UK have added greatly to the UK.
But uncontrolled immigration is a model that doesn’t work.
The net price that we pay for our membership of the EU is supposedly something like £160m per week. I don’t think we get good value for this.
I fully expect that the UK will experience a temporary recession if we leave the EU, but this does not mean that we will be worse off as individuals because the reduction in migrant population would also reduce our cost base and reduce the pressure on our infrastructure. In addition, a problem with the EU is that it is a slow and unwieldy machine that stifles economic growth – the EU is the sick economy of the world, with our traditional wealth being eroded over time by the over-regulation and slow reaction times. By coming out, we will be able to compete against our European friends, but with a much faster reaction time – that is a real competitive advantage to us.
What about human rights, workers rights, etc. Will these be abolished?
Just because we are no longer part of the EU, it does not follow that we would rip up the legislation that we have enacted. Yes, a future government may choose to rip it up, but we would have the ability to vote them out. In the same way that a future government may rip up the social charter, a future government will be able to abolish the restrictions on government subsidies, and so help out industries that are in temporary difficulty, such as the steel industry.
Will business leave the UK? We are the 5th largest economy in the world with the best Universities, an educated and innovative workforce, and with huge purchasing power. Yes, some businesses may relocate away from the UK to the EU, but as the UK Government will be free of EU red tape, it will be able to incentivise foreign and domestic businesses in the UK in ways that it cannot currently do.
But in any case, our government has a duty of care to the population of the UK, and has no duty of care to overseas businesses who want us to stay in the EU. As I have already stated, I believe that Brexit will give the individuals living in the UK (foreign or British) a much better quality of life. The Government appears to be missing this fundamental point.
The risk of war? I think this is a ridiculous argument. We are part of NATO and have a nuclear deterrent. Our European friends will still be our friends even if we leave “the club”.
The choice over time is one of two routes.
The first route is that we get closer and closer to a European federation, with our Government gradually becoming the equivalent of a local council.
The second route is that we regain control over our own destiny, opting out of the federation.
I would choose the latter, but I accept that some people would love us to be in a European federation because they do not trust our own politicians. Think back to the expenses scandal, and you can see why this might be the case.
But perhaps they are missing the point here. The accounts of the EU have not been agreed for over 20 years running.
According to the annual report of the European Court of Auditors, £109 billion out of a total of £117 billion spent by the EU in 2013 was “affected by material error”.
On what basis would they be fit to govern me, if their accounts have not been agreed for 20 years.
Our politicians may be bad, but at least we can get rid of them!
That’s actually a more compelling read than the main article…
I have not read all of your article, Matt, because your first sentence negates anything that follows. Anti-intellectualism is not a badge to be worn proudly. It is the business of those that promote one viewpoint or another to educate those who have the right to vote, so they can make fair judgement when they tick the appropriate box. I’d rather know people have been intellectual in their choice rather than either self-serving or emotionally jingoistic.
All you ever say is that the Leave side is emotional and jingoistic! I suggest it is you and the Remain side who follow that path.
You do not provide a scrap of evidence to support your contention. You admit you read only the first sentence of Matt’s article. How then can you understand the rest of what Matt had to say? I wonder what you mean by “anti-intellectualism”. Is it a sign of being intellectual to read only one sentence in an article? I think not!
What you are doing is the ultimate arrogance! You assume that you are in the right without bothering to support your point of view by reasoned argument. You are completely wrong that those who have a view should educate “those who have a vote” because it suggests that those listening are uneducated. The purpose of those involved is to persuade the voters to their point of view! Therefore, you are insulting the electorate by suggesting they need educating. Further it implies that you are superior in intellect than the general population (or is it only those who support Leave in your august opinion)?
It is you who is intellectually dishonest and as ignorantly biased as the BBC. Human beings are not machines and we do have emotions. Most psychologists would hold the view that emotion plays a vital role for human beings. Behaviourists try to eliminate emotion from their experiments, but with limited success in my opinion. The behaviour of a chimp to show extreme emotion when angry is well known as are the tantrums of immature humans!
The electorate will make up their minds how to vote despite your intervention or the bias of the Government, the establishment and most of all, the BBC (Not The British Broadcasting Company any longer, but rather The Biased Brainwashing Clique)! Their rendition of the 11 O’Clock “News” tonight was arguably the worst to date with the representatives of the Remain Campaign screaming, shouting abuse and silly comments who were not controlled by the “adjudicator” whereas the Leave Campaign behaved with some dignity though Boris did show some anger when confronted by the three screaming representatives of Remain. I wonder if that is the level of their intellectual capability?
Finally, it is not jingoistic to wish to leave the EU. There are sound rational reasons for asking for the right to determine the laws by which we are governed!
PS My original first post is yet to appear after ages waiting! In my opinion, it’s meets all the requirements for decorum required by the LSE. If it does not appear soon, I am going to assume it is not poor admin, but something rather more sinister!
I am English and can trace my ancestors in the north of England back more than 600 years. However, I have lived in Helsinki now for 11 years and have been closely following this debate for the past 6 months. Most of my family and friends will be voting to leave the EU on the 24th June. I on the other hand will vote to remain. Being married to a “jolly foreigner”, living and working overseas and wishing to remain so, I obviously have more of a vested interest in the outcome of Brexit than most. I have talked about this issue with numerous family members and friends (all pro-leave) and I have come to the conclusion, that for them, as I suspect for most pro-leavers, it comes down to two issues: immigration and sovereignty. We could debate the £7bn membership cost issue and the economic damage that leaving would cause, however that would be irrelevant. I believe that the relevant issue for many pro-leavers is as one individual put it to me after a particularly heated debate: “I don’t care how much it costs, I just want my country back!”. Right or wrong one has to respect and admire the honesty of that sentiment. Regardless of the result on the 24th June, I am very sad at the deep divisions in our country and frustrated with the skepticism and hostility towards the EU. A colleague of mine, who is Finnish and has worked in London for several years during his career, made a very astute observation that has stuck with me: “geographically, historically and culturally the United Kingdom is undeniably European, however as far as. nationalism and politics are concerned the people of the U.K. are far more aligned with those of the USA.” As for me I suppose historically and culturally I am undeniably British but nationalistically and politically more aligned with Europe. I sincerely hope that the UK remains a part of the EU, however it will not come as a shock if the leave camp were to win.
Thank you for your article and the chance to reply.
After all the arguments, for me it simply comes down to the ability by ordinary people to remove politicians from power every five years. This is simple democracy and for me it trumps any other argument. I still remember with horror the arrogance of an EU representative speaking hours after the Irish had voted against the Lisbon Treaty in their referendum, saying “They will have to vote again” It was an insight into the minds of this political elite and it sent a chill through me. I urge you to reflect on the freedom that our current democratic system brings and fight to retain it.
Tha LSE and all the Economists that are backing the IN brigade are still working on the assumption that DEFICIT SPENDING can continue Ad infinitum..and they can continue to print currency as the ever mounting problems continue to increase. They have learned nothing from the crash in 2008 and the debts and deficits still rise.A French minister this week-end stated that the country was basically BANKRUPT, Italy,Greece Spain and Portugal are also in trouble with rising unemployment And slowing economies. That will add to the UK’s attraction as Europes JOB CENTER . The EURO is very volatile when compared with the other main world currencies and it will take very little to cause it to collapse-that is not to say all the others are in good health, all currencies that have ever existed in the past have eventually over heated and disappeared.or been re-invented after a crash . The KEYNSIAN deficit economic model is a case of the blind leading the blind !!,
All I would say is read this which is much more balanced and informed.
And afterwards go figure why EFTA is included with the EU in figure one (above) if not to deceive?
At this point we should all remember that while we each have economic points to make, then political, democratic deficit facts & all other aspects to consider…..that still & all it is an emotional decison that we will take.
Think hard on the economics & think hard on the democratic deficit & the United States of Europe but most of all be aware that it is at the pivot an emotional decision.
What will make you happy?
I think very hard and I disagree with you, because I feel good about peace in Europe, especially on the anniversary of D-Day.
As has been stated many times, the EU is not perfect, but some things are worth having greater than the arguments about inefficiencies in various fields. Also, we have well-negotiated opt outs.
The only serious emotion I see is from the Leave campaign, since emotion is the USP for the campaign.
Thank you Nicholas. Interesting to see. We could all easily be using a high-grade immersive 3D thinking and analysis program that maps out and highlights differences in reasoning. It reduces the need for there to be emotive personal comment.
Unfortunately what are lacking from this article are empathy and vision. Without vision in either direction all articles become little more than an exercise in cherry picking. And without empathy the article makes itself irrelevant to the vast majority. The simple truth is that Britain will always be better off when it has a bold vision of itself. That is true whether inside the EU or not. More specifically this article fails to address the fundamental the point of the referendum, in as much as it is a direct question of national belief not a discussion of the validity of facts. The voters will be asked “What do you think or feel is best for Great Britain” Actual knowledge is not needed to vote, and having a vote regardless of knowledge is the basis of all democratic thinking. Simple bean counting is insufficient as an argument regardless of whether or not the facts are true or false. In my view both sides have disappointed, and this article is just another example of an intellectual entirely dismissing the sentiments of at least 50% of the population and failing to present anything as a positive vision for the future that people can believe in. The referendum will be won or lost on emotions and this article like many gives a sense of an academic life lived devoid of empathy and out of touch with normal people and their dreams and hopes. As a thinly disguised attempt to convince (“open letter to friends”) it is more likely to alienate that attract the average person in the UK.
I could not agree more. To try to reduce a decision of this magnitude to a simple spreadsheet is to miss a fundamental truth of this whole debate…the future (either future) is unknown…to quote Star Trek (boy I’m gonna cop it for that!) “Your Father called the future – the undiscovered country. People can be very frightened of change”.
I am going to take the advice of a man I never thought I would find myself agreeing with (because I don’t agree with much else he has to say), and I will paraphrase him. Alex Salmond (yes, that’s right) said, “You are going to hear many facts from both sides of the argument, some will be more true than others, many will be compelling, but both sides will seek to sway you to their side. If I could give you one piece of advice it would be to vote on what you believe in, what matters to you deep down.”
If we all honestly do that with respect for the fact that others may disagree with us, and yet still not be wrong, then the ultimate outcome, whatever it be will be the right one because we will all have voted for what we truly believe is important and not what has been driven by convenient statistics, blinkered views, scaremongering, rabid rants and all the rest of it – from both sides of the debate.
I could not agree more. To try to reduce a decision of this magnitude to a simple spreadsheet is to miss a fundamental truth of this whole debate…the future (either future) is unknown…to quote Star Trek (boy I’m gonna cop it for that!) “Your Father called the future – the undiscovered country. People can be very frightened of change”.
I am going to take the advice of a man I never thought I would find myself agreeing with (because I don’t agree with much else he has to say), and I will paraphrase him. Alex Salmond (yes, that’s right) said, “You are going to hear many facts from both sides of the argument, some will be more true than others, many will be compelling, but both sides will seek to sway you to their side. If I could give you one piece of advice it would be to vote on what you believe in, what matters to you deep down.”
If we all honestly do that with respect for the fact that others may disagree with us and yet still not be wrong then the ultimate outcome, whatever it be, will be the right one because we will all have voted for what we truly believe is important and not what has been driven by convenient statistics, blinkered views, scaremongering, rabid rants and all the rest of it – from both sides of the debate.
No mention of the secretive EU / US trade deal TTIP that will go ahead soon – That alone is a very good reason for the UK to leave
This might be if there was any guarantee that it wouldn’t happen in a Brexited UK – what makes you think that Boris Johnson, of all people, would be against such a hugely private-sector-promoting, and potentially public service-damaging deal as TTIP?!
Not at all. The EU is the best protection against TTIP .. what, you think the Tories won’t go ahead with it separately, after Brexit? The EU is at least debating it openly : http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/in-focus/ttip/index_en.htm
Really well written. It provides great clarity. Thank you.
Does the 45% of our trade that Mr Barr cites as being the % of our exports that goes to other EU countries take account of the so called ‘Rotterdam-Antwerp’ factor? I very much doubt it. These are the exports that exit the UK to Rotterdam/Antwerp and other EU ports to be loaded onto giant container ships enroute to SEAsia/Africa and the Americas. For statistical purposes they are counted as exports to the EU s that is technically their first destination. Nothing sinister here it is just the way statisticians have always calculated them but if they were calculated in accordance with their true destinations then I understand the actual figure might fall below 40%. This is still a very large % but one that is declining month by month as the Eurozone continues to struggle to grow. Mr Barr would surely be aware of the Rotterdam/Antwerp factor and had he truly wanted to write a balanced article on the pros and cons EU membership he would certainly have mentioned this.
Furthermore, Remainers like Mr Barr always cite the EU as being a 500 mio+ market without mentioning that 65-70 mio of that total is represented by the UK. The whole dynamics of the EU will inevitably be altered upon Brexit and it seems inconceivable to me that wiser heads wont ultimately prevail and once any temper tantrums in Brussels and various EU capitals have subsided, suitable trading arrangements will be reached for if the EU insists of ‘punishing’ the UK for exercising it’s democratic rights then any fallout from Brexit will be laid firmly at the door of Brussels.
However, I can clearly understand why the EU might be tempted to punish the UK, as a successful Brexit will surely tempt Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and possibly even the Scandinavian members of the EU and even Holland to join us thus creating a second European trading bloc which would ‘look the EU in the eye’. This, Brussels definitely would not like to see happen, particularly since it would be UK led.
Brilliant. Two hostile EU blocs snarling at each other. “Who do you think you are kidding Mr Hitler…”
Figure 1 shows that British trade with the EU is much larger than with anyone else. Trade with China is growing more rapidly but is still very small (2.9%). In round numbers, about 45% of UK trade is with the EU, 18% with the USA and 7.3% with the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa).
That Adds up to 70.3% – where is the remaining 29.7% ?
Also re the EU figure – he should have said what EU countries are made up of that 44% figure
“Figure 1: Percentage of UK exports to other countries, 2014”
Where is the Commonwealth?
The same Commonwealth which is projected to overtake the EU economy by IMF by the year 2019?
UK voters have an historic opportunity to re-position the UK in to a more sustainable, better run country or, alternatively, continue in the fundamentally flawed, dysfunctional European Union.
We should not waste this opportunity.
For all voters, give some thought on the issues below, before deciding.
1. What DIRECT benefits do I get from being in the EU & how significant are these?
2. What INDIRECT benefits might I be getting from being in the EU and these real?
3. What Direct or Indirect impacts of EU membership affect me?
4. Do I want to live in the UK with a population of 70 Million, or greater?
5. Where are all the incoming EU (and other) immigrants going to live, school their children, register with a GP, drive / park their cars and get fixed up after an accident or illness?
6. Would I prefer to have an immigration and asylum policy that works for the UK or continue sharing the EU’s “policy”? Remember in 2015 Germany unilaterally invited millions of asylum seekers / economic migrants in. These very unfortunate people will probably gain access to the UK.
7. Is the UK’s forecast GDP growth, strength of the Pound and business confidence sufficient justification to remain in the EU?
8. Is the Remain campaigns prediction of the collapse of the economy, should BREXIT occur, realistic?
9. If the Remain vote wins, we know what will follow; increased population, over-stretched NHS, GPs, schools, ever increasing house prices and clogged roads; but at least businesses & the economy will be fine, if you believe the forecasts.
10. If the Leave vote wins we are told the country will fall over the cliff; however, this is unlikely. Here’s a strategy in the event of a Leave vote:
A. The UK informs the EU it intends to continue business with EU countries as if it were part of the club & that it encourages (expects) EU countries to do the same. This would be a huge boost to the UK’s & EU’s economies and would take less than an hour to communicate.
B. EU Trade Agreements with non-EU countries will be adopted by the UK with those same non-EU countries; so, business as usual. This would also be a huge confidence boost to the economy & the EU.
C. All EU nationals working in the UK as of the 23rd June 2016 will get an open-ended work permit to continue living & working in the UK; however, they will not automatically get the option to become British Nationals. Likewise the UK expects all British Nationals, resident in EU countries, to be treated in the same manner.
D. A UK immigration policy is put in-place along the lines of the Australian scheme where staff places can be filled via immigration only after demonstrating no British Nationals are available to fill the positions. Companies bringing in overseas staff are directly responsible for their accommodation, schooling & medical costs. Such imported staff have to leave the country when their employment ends. These “economic migrants” do not automatically get the option to become British Nationals.
E. A new UK asylum policy is enacted whereby valid asylum seekers get a temporary renewable work permit plus benefits for a fixed period; however, they do not automatically get the option of British Nationality. Asylum seekers are expected to return to their home country once safe to do so. The UK will assist in re-patriation. Potential asylum seekers without hard evidence of their country of residence will not qualify for these conditions or benefits and should get held in secure basic facilities until either deported or confirmed as valid asylum candidates. Valid asylum seekers can only apply for immediate family members (siblings under 18 & parents), not the older generation, Aunts, Uncles etc.
Would you prefer the Remain scenario, or the proposed Leave scenario, described above?
Any forecast from Remain or Leave, which describes something that could happen, is meaningless unless substantiated by hard evidence. So you can safely discard 99% of the two group’s predictions.
Neither camp has said what will be done in the event of a Leave Vote, which is a significant omission. Voters need to be actively spelling out what we want the United Kingdom to be in the near future.
So, we can actively work for a much better United Kingdom, get our own politicians working for us using our own principles, by voting to Leave the EU. The necessary changes aren’t likely to happen if you vote to Remain in the EU.
I highly recommend Voters don’t waste this hugely significant opportunity to improve the UK’s prospects.
10. If the Leave vote wins we are told the country will fall over the cliff; however, this is unlikely. Here’s a strategy in the event of a Leave vote:
A. The UK informs the EU it intends to continue business with EU countries as if it were part of the club & that it encourages (expects) EU countries to do the same. This would be a huge boost to the UK’s & EU’s economies and would take less than an hour to communicate.
Yes, just like that! You are having a laugh, aren’t you?
B. EU Trade Agreements with non-EU countries will be adopted by the UK with those same non-EU countries; so, business as usual. This would also be a huge confidence boost to the economy & the EU.
Yes, you are having a laugh!
C. All EU nationals working in the UK as of the 23rd June 2016 will get an open-ended work permit to continue living & working in the UK; however, they will not automatically get the option to become British Nationals. Likewise the UK expects all British Nationals, resident in EU countries, to be treated in the same manner.
I like it. but seriously, in the real world…
Good job Rotterdam / Antwerp have got decent trade agreements with the rest of the world, as they are part of the EU. We might not have soon.
Haven’t heard from Jim for a while.
If that is a reply to my posting above you must have a Phd in missing the point. Anyway to clarify. Exports to SEAsia/Africa/Americas are sometimes routed via Rotterdam Free Port, Antwerp or Hamburg for loading on to containerships ex those ports. These are counted as exports to the EU instead of exports to their ultimate destinations thus giving a misleading picture of our trade flows by inflating the statistics of our exports to the EU at the expense of exports to non-EU countries.
NB. If only the EU did have decent trade agreements with the rest of the world then UK exporters would not face high tariffs when seeking to export to numerous non EU countries, eg the hovercraft manufacturer cited on TV last week who is unable to fulfil enquiries from Brazil for their products due to high tariffs owing to the EU having no trade agreement with Brazil.
Just wanted to make you aware that posting a completed ballot paper online is an offence under the electoral laws in the UK
Taking a photo of a ballot paper’s unique identification number is against the law, but not a simple shot of what the paper looks like – these are freely available online. The ballot paper is not actually Nicholas Barr’s and is for illustrative purposes only.
At 11:19 on 06/06/2016 I replied to a comment on this article. Since then many new replies have appeared, however mine is still awaiting ‘moderation’…starting to feel more like censorship now – though why I do not know?
Sorry, Simon, I can’t find a record of your comment. Could you repost?
I have re-replied (it was to Greg June 6, 2016 at 7:51 pm). Still showing as requiring moderation and yet another post, in reply to my reply questioning ‘sensorship vs censorship’ (which you replied to) has subsequently appeared. I really don’t understand what is going on here…but I generally go with cock-up in the “cock-up vs conspiracy” theory!
The re-posting of my original reply has now appeared. My original posting is still showing as ‘requiring moderation’ 😉 … Good enough.
Seems we are both being moderated. Oh well there they go again
You are lucky! I replied to Barr very early on, so long ago that I have given up waiting for it to appear online. Like you, I have checked (several times) and each time “moderation”! You are right, it is a obvious way of Barr ensuring censorship!
As a graduate of University of London (not LSE thank God!) I am concerned for the future of university education. At another London university college, my daughter achieved an honours degree last year. For her sake, I have to be careful what I say. For the most part, her tutors were very good, but two were dreadful! One told all the students on the course that all they had to do was to buy his book (he was not joking!). The other, “assessed” my daughter’s mini thesis. They published a 1st class thesis on a very similar subject. There was little if any material difference between then the two of them. Unfortunately, the tutor took a view that is not really viable – my daughter disagreed with her personal viewpoint! My son is NOT going to London University in September. If university tutors hide behind censorship or imposing their viewpoint on students, then higher education is at risk.
With regard to Brexit, the LSE is in bad company when trying to limit or deny the public access to an open debate. It has been shown (beyond reasonable doubt) that the BBC is completely biased in its presentation. I am presently investigating what action can be taken given the BBC is required BY LAW to be neutral. I discovered late last night that there is a requirement for the Government to remain neutral in the debate. It appears as if public money, raised by taxation, has been used to support the Remain Campaign. If true, then I shall to find a legal remedy. Wishful thinking: a tax rebate and interest lost by me!
I am in favour of a full debate on Brexit and hoped that would be the outcome. Now it appears there is a move afoot that MPs are going to refuse to implement a vote to leave if that is the outcome. If true, then democracy is dead in the UK and an alternative method on representing the public will be required, at least in the short term. In any event, given recent polls, it is difficult to see how Cameron can continue as PM.
In some ways the EU is an excellent idea, but it is one that has been manipulated by certain interests. None of those are in the interest of the UK and Greece. It seems to me that old wounds, the Spanish Armada, Waterloo and two world wars in the C20th century are the starting point for some EU relationships.
Finally, as I tried to post before, Germany is to pay compensation to American motorists regarding the emissions scandal, but not so for UK motorists. Indeed, today it has been suggested that tax on the price of diesel fuel for motorists is likely to be increased in the UK (because of German fraud), though they, the British Government, try to blame Gordon Brown! Typical Tory Tosh.
I hope your contribution will be posted, Simon.
It’s there finally…let’s hear if for free speech.
Yes, the modern university system is interesting isn’t it – I’m a product of 80’s Russell Group (Leeds). I do find it interesting that when the new Tuition Fees model was introduced ALL universities were ‘worth’ £9/K! Oxbridge, Russel Group, Old Poly, Old Teacher Training College…all their degrees have identical value in the real world therefore they should all cost the same! Thank God everything isn’t priced like that…Fiat Punto for the price of an Aston-Martin DB 9 anyone! :-/
But I’m off topic…apologies.
An excellent post. Well done. How about a DB9 for the price of a Fiat Punto? Lovely idea, except the insurance and servicing costs would almost certainly exceed the total of the Punto cost! We can dream, though!
Definitely a better way to spend your Punto budget though! With the added advantage that you would be investing in British industry and jobs, leaving you with a great car and a warm fuzzy glow…win-win! 😉
I wish to leave the Union because they are a bunch of trouble makers and we can do without all the palaver of who’s doing what to whom and how often. It was supposed to be for trade alone but now the lying cheating nutters are all out for control and domination, which to be fair we can all do without. So No I do not want to be a part of that thank you , Now go away and take your international corporate paymasters with you.
this Jim Farr guy is hard work. I’m voting to remain just because he wants to leave so much
Dear Vincent Savage,
I am sure you think very hard. However, that does not mean you reach the correct conclusion, especially if you are so proud of not reading all of someone else’s post. To me that suggests someone who is likely to jump to conclusions.
I am glad you are celebrating D Day. However, you clearly are unaware of recent Spanish actions regarding Gibraltar. Firstly, they have stated if the Leave campaign wins, they will invade Gibraltar. I doubt their chaotic military could invade Monaco, much less take on the UK. Perhaps they should give some thought to the Armada and the last time a Latino country went to war with the UK (Falkland Islands).
Secondly, friendly relations? Spanish ships have entered illegally the territorial waters of Gibraltar several times in recent months
Thirdly, Spanish fishing trawlers all but destroyed the British fishing industry by lying and cheating! We got precious little support from the EU. Indeed, the EU imposed punitive quotas on British fishermen.
Ever head of the Great Valencia Land Grab? Effectively, this has impoverished many British ex-pats by appropriating private property. Despite complaints, the EU has not addressed this problem.
Lastly, Germany, or should I say Merkel, threatening all and sundry over immigration, when she added the fuel to the fire. Even her own people are against her. Also, look at the way the EU, led by Merkel, has treated Greece! They have ruined its economy! To be fair, the Greek economy has never been strong, but why not throw a lifebelt rather than a bag of bricks to a sinking economy?
In conclusion, you mention “well-negotiated opt outs …”. The only change I can remember helping the UK is the one Mrs Thatcher achieved all those years ago and about which France and Germany complain on a regular basis. Please could you identify the opt-outs mentioned, but not identified, in your post? Many thanks.
I am writing with regards this blog and the leaflet vote Stay In I’ve received recently from Labour Party .
I would like to express my disappointment after Southwark Electorate’s mail , that I am not eligible to vote in EU upcoming referendum .
Also after my online investigation about the subject I realised that I found myself amongst 23000 people who express their viewpoint on Gov website about residents illegibility.
I’d like to ask co tributes to this blog and local authority that read it to look at above subject again as to my understanding the simple democratic and fair idea would be to assign an extra two illegible Stay In votes to one illegible UK resident or count Stay In votes in double way in the referendum.
Also illegible residents should be sent or given opportunity of online vote and this vote should be included in the referendum.
I would be thankful for your comments
There have been a number of remarks about censorship. I recommend you read the comment policy:
This should explain the delay in the appearance of your comments.
I read the policy document and nothing I had written had breached the policy in any way, shape or form. Yet more than 24 hours later my reply post was still marked as ‘awaiting moderation’ while newer posts were appearing…so clearly some money moderation was going on – so what was the hold up with mine? It is for this reason that I questioned (light-heartedly) whether there might be some censorship involved. Personally I suspect system foul up to be more likely as a subsequent re-posting has finally appeared. So no harm, no foul.
I disagree with the article.
Starts off talking about ‘reduced growth’ then starts talking about a ‘loss’ when he SHOULD be talking about sustainable gain compared to the explosive boom/bust bubble caused by uncontrolled migration. The historic benefits of migration were based on CONTROLLED migration not an open door policy. Vote Leave for controlled migration.
Nicholas Barr does not consider the collapsing Euro that will be a bigger economic shock than Brexit and voting leave would give us more protection from the inevitable pre collapse bailouts. Basically the trade graphs used as illustration would be same/slightly better whether we leave or not and could be worse if the EU goes into recession.
The quoted threats from the pro-european unelected ‘centre for european reform’ are a great example of the petty bickering we need to be free from..so again vote leave. These people are advisors to who?? more unelected freeloaders.
The £350 million is out of our control, I know some comes back but we are then told how to spend it! Usually in a ‘part funded’ activity such as Angel of the North or N.B.s LSE. However you look at it, even in Nicholas Barr’s calculations, 30p/day from all 64.1 million of us can do a lot of good when spent locally. Even the LSE could have more money.
I and many like me will be voting leave. It is always cheaper to do nothing and change is always worrying…even a change for the better. Of course we should all vote based on personal benefits rather than someone’s guess work. I personally object to building on green belts which is unavoidable if a couple of cites the size of Newcastle has to built every year..
Thoughtful piece and has made me think more deeply about it; disappointing absence of any consideration of CAP(half of the EU budget goes on this ridiculous income support scheme for rich landowners; the idea this is providing either cheap food or food security is a bad joke) and CFP? These are both significant issues for many voters and reform of either has been glacially slow and beset by rich lobby groups. Nor was there any comment on the EU’s inability to return audited accounts despite enacting anti-corruption laws; this is irony on a scale rivalling Henry Kissinger winning a Nobel Peace Prize for bombing South East Asia into the stone age.
Spaniards hate great britain? Spain will invade gibraltar?
Im spaniard and I love GB. If I were british I will vote to leave. To recover the country and to expell so many migrants. I was really surprise about of so many foreign races.
SPAIN WILL NEVER INVADE GIBRALTAR, is an strategy to help david cameron to win the referendum. There are so many economic interests in the business GB-Spain that will never happen.
I will even told you more: maybe, you dont like spanish conservatives but the left-wing will be the worst. In that case, a possible military conflict will be more close. Why? Because they are extremelly prorussian and will allied with argentina.
I recommend you to see also the spanish elections 26-j not only the brexit referendum. I will vote liberal which the chief economists that is from London school of economics. A political party that conservative party needs to govern. So, at any case, they will need the support of this party to any measure to gibraltar, a party more pro- british than conservatives itself.
So calm down from spain except “we can” party wins, I mean, the left-wing communists.
Hi, I am really pleased to hear that Spain does not hate GB and does not intend to invade Gibraltar. You are right that there is a scheme afoot to frighten us into voting to remain in the EU.
I have several Spanish friends and they are about 2 to 1 in supporting the Leave campaign. They wish that Spain could leave because they feel they are economic slaves to Germany. If the UK leaves the EU, I believe that other mistreated countries, such as Greece and Spain, may try to leave as well.
It is a shame really, but the EU elite have mistreated others so badly and have diminished democracy throughout most of Europe. They idea of an association of States trading in a friendly way is what I believed I was voting for all those years ago. Had the EU remained true to what was said, this referendum would not be necessary. What we did not know was that Heath conspired with others to create a single dictatorship.
Yet more scaremongering and speculation. The fact that it comes from the LSE is even more reason to ignore it. The LSE, a breeding ground for the political elite and intrinsic with the 1%
He forgot to mention the reason why the EU is our biggest market, which is because we can’t set up trade with anyone else. Instead we have to wait years and years for the EU to set them up under terms that all 29 countries agree on. Trade deals make trade easier, so naturally our biggest market is the EU. Actually our biggest Single Market is the Commonwealth, which accounts for 1/3 the world population, dwarfing the 500m in the EU. We’re head of the Commonwealth and we all share the same Common Law. This means trade deals can be agreed within one year, thanks also to the fact that each deal would be made between 2 countries, not 29.
He also forgot to mention that exports to the EU have been falling, despite being easier and less expensive. They’ve been falling for years and show no sign of changing direction. In 1999 exports to the EU were around 55%. They’re now around 44% and forecast to continue along this trend, reaching 40% by 2019. The decline is quickening. You have to ask yourself why this could be. Perhaps the Euro is weakening the Continent? Seeing as the EU hasn’t experienced economic growth of any substance in 10 years, I’d say the Euro has plenty to do with that. Oh that’s another thing Mr Barr failed to mention. The EU is the only significant economy in the world that hasn’t experienced growth in 10 years. All the other have. That is an absolute fact.
On his point on immigration, that it’s good for the economy for increasing demand for goods and services. This is entirely missing two points on EU immigration. Firstly, it’s about the number of immigrants coming in. It’s too many. We cannot sustain this level of immigration, so left uncontrolled our infrastructure WILL collapse. The argument that EU immigrants pay in more taxes than they take out in benefits is irrelevant, because our taxes are not being spent where they should be anyway. Why aren’t more houses, schools and hospitals being built? But that’s an entirely different matter of democracy. The second point he’s, probably deliberately, missed is the issue of wages. A higher demand for goods and services has a positive effect on jobs, but in our case it’s having a negative effect on wages. You can apply the same economic rule, one of the most fundamental, to wages as well as jobs. The more EU migrants there are coming in to work at minimum wage, the less chance there is of wages going up. The majority of EU migrants are taking minimum wage jobs and this is having a negative impact on wages in our country. What’s more concerning is low paid jobs at say £8 or £8.50 an hour are being advertised across the EU at minimum wage. The EU are funding this practice and offering incentives to companies to employ immigrants, instead of local people. The EU are also covering costs for immigrants to attend interviews. Travel and accommodation. This is a blatant and systematic interference with our country. It’s driving down wages and contributing to our own unemployment. Wrong on so many levels.
Congratulations Rob! Your comment is outstanding and sums up what this debate is about.
Why has no one mentioned the banks?
During the Scottish referendum much was made by the No campaign of how Scottish banks would have to redomicile in London, as they wrote so much business in the EU that EU rules required them to be domiciled in the EU to do so.
English banks write as much or even more business in the EU. So English banks will obviously have to redomicile. In Dublin, Paris or Frankfurt. Or in an independant Scotland that votes for independance and remains the rump UK, with England leaving the UK. No matter where your banks go most of English wealth will then leave England. Then you’ll be dirt poor and have Boris for PM as well. While the Germans, French, Irish, or Scots have all your money. Can any of you spell “totally screwed”?
Yes, I can spell thank you! I am somewhat amazed, given your comments, that you managed to spell TOTALLY SCREWED correctly!
Your logic is none too good, I’m afraid. Because we leave the EU does not mean that, arguably, the second largest financial institution in the world will have to move to the EU. Look at Singapore for example. It is an tiny island almost twice as large as the Isle of Wight. Yet it is one of the most important financial centres in SE Asia If we remain, it is more likely that France and Germany will try to weaken the City of London. They have been trying to do so for several years now.
With regard to banks, they will go anywhere where there are people, especially those with money. Very few countries in the EU have more powerful economies than the UK so why would they move?
You appear to be fixated on Scottish independence from England. If so, good luck it will do the rest of us a favour! No more idiotic SNP comments in the Commons. More importantly, no more bitching about how badly Scotland is treated. Most importantly, no more of the evil witch, the leader of the SNP, screaming at Boris on TV or demanding more from the UK than Scotland contributes!
Dream on if you think that Scotland would gain if the UK leaves the EU. We trashed you at Bannockburn and would likely do the same again if required! You are, in my opinion, a disgrace to the Scottish people. If you feel so strongly, why don’t you depart on 24th June and live in, say, Romania for a few years?
The footnote regarding EU minority/remote community funding… was about it being in the Aid model, of which I have a lot of experience in Africa. The world’s largest NGOs got together in 2011/2012 and concluded that their Aid had not worked… for the last 70 years of it, it was time for new thinking…
Aid is patronising, disempowering, comes from and perpetuates ‘outside help’ mentality and just ends up in White Elephants standing empty – but with big beautiful signs saying “Funded by EU (or whatever other org wants their badge on their money).
It produces UNSUSTAINABLE results – because they are not rooted in community. Aid doesn’t work – it perpetuates itself. Sound like the EU?
I would like to add the following commentary from a Greek citizen who has come to live and work in the UK.
The commentary poses many questions.
My name is John Baxevanidis.
I came to the UK to avoid national service, I am a “fun” of academia, I have attended 3 Universities and equally obtained 3 degrees including 2 Master’s degrees in the process. I was born in Greece and brought up by my very poor single mother. I went to a “run of the mill” state school until I was 17 where I barely graduated by the skin of my teeth. I had never made the slightest effort to study until that point in my life. At the age of 18 I came to the UK. Now I am a “top earner” (according to the statistics), drive an expensive car, but live in a small 3 bed detached house.
I consider myself to be “from the block”, yet at the same time much more cultured, educated and informed than most people I know. I know a lot of young people who have no dreams, no aspirations and consequently they are going nowhere. However, they belong to a “social class” higher than mine. Can you connect the dots? There were no opportunities presented to me at any moment in my life. My parents and I “forced” them. Cultural and geographical idiosyncrasies play a huge role. So yes in median/average/statistical terms there are hundreds of different factors that “micro-affect” and “micro-influence” classes. People tend to stick to where they are (in statistical terms at least) because they are not allowed by “society” to go anywhere else. This is a “macro” factor. I’m a cynic and a realist and I do not believe any time soon that “society” will ever allow equality or freedom. If you want to explore the answer to your question, you have to go back in history to understand it better.
Do you really, truly think that a different tax system, policy or law will eliminate this problem? Think with your heart not your calculator and you will probably realise that it will not make much difference.
Do the starving and the diseased have equal opportunities in this world? Why is that? What is the social and economic class of a thousand generations born in poverty, disease or war? But I know this is a different kettle of fish because I am referring to an entirely different group of people…different demographics…different “statistical groups”, blah, blah, hence let’s not talk about them…
This country has an educational system which is presented by society as “one of the best”. Yet if you speak to foreign people in education (school or university) will testify that the level of education in England at least (as I am not aware of the rest of the UK) is very poor. Schools dish out “tripple” A’s or double stars or whatever, like shops give out flyers in the streets, yet children are still just about literate in comparison with other countries. I am not just exaggerating for a humorous effect, I have met plenty of such kids and University graduate later on, who lag just as much in their abilities and knowledge. When I did my first degree in the University of Manchester most of the English students had to go to “night school” to learn basic maths before proceeding with the rest of the class. The university already had this facility, aware of the lack of knowledge. Don’t get me wrong, England still breeds fantastic scientists and brilliant minds, but we are talking about the average and statistical here after all.
There is no recipe for the road to success. Academia loves boxes and statistics and graphs, etc. What makes you as a person? Your social class, your education, your salary, your parents’ wealth, your manners, your empathy towards others, your religion, the car you drive? Why do we care about social mobility? (I know most do, it’s rhetorical question) Our “care and concern” about social and economic mobility is what pushes people further into extremism, vanity, but also apathy. Who says that going up will make you happy? Success is measured differently by everybody.
To me the question seems to be a simple one.
Do we want more of the same or do we want to embrace change?
Right now in our country the rich get richer, the poor get squeezed, the banking industry can get bailed out by the tax payer while manufacturing industry gets little more than derisory support. Important infrastructure contracts are regularly awarded to foreign countries because we no longer have the industry or skills to fulfill them. We routinely replace premium skilled jobs with lower value semi/unskilled jobs. This list can go on and on.
Then there is the scare-mongering about the exchange rate. Suppose we leave the EU and GBP goes down significantly. – Devaluation! Hold on a minute – isn’t that a tool used to help promote exports and export led jobs. Wouldn’t the natural consumer switch to cheaper domestically produced goods also promote more Jobs.
Latest threat from Cameron – the removal of the triple lock on pensions. Well forgive me for being cynical, but governments have found this inconvenient for a long time based on demographic forecasts and a rising bill. What a nice excuse to abandon it and blame others….
The Euro experiment is on some very rocky ground. It is a device that serves primarily Germany to keep her currency much lower than it would otherwise have been and promote exporting strength and a strong economy. No other country in the euro-zone enjoys this advantage most in fact pay the price. In order for the Euro to survive though, and much closer integration is going to be required and the EU will increasingly serve the needs of the Euro-zone.
As an aside. We tried to link our currency with Europe through the ERM – that failed dramatically. Switzerland tried to put a floor on EURCHF – that failed dramatically earlier this year.
Our influence in Europe is at best limited, and further diluted with each new accession. One can argue that the free trade area is a bonus, but countries from all over the world that are external to such arrangements continue to trade with the EU under various other world trade mechanisms. Why would we need to replicate the arrangements of countries like Norway, with economies very much smaller than our own. I do not believe for a second that Europe will not wish to trade with us. We buy much more from them than they buy from us.
I could easily go on and on, but the basic question still holds true. Each time I come round to thinking in favor of remaining I bump immediately into yet another reason to leave. True, we can not properly know what the future will hold if we do leave – no-one has ever done it before, but if we stay nothing will change and this country desperately needs change.
I Vote for change.
Simon (June 8th) is making a point which ultimately is the reality on which the votes pivot.
The “spreadsheet” full of figures – which then only gets counter-claims of more figures) doesn’t help anybody who is trying to assess what matters.
I offer the following:
Confused on what to vote in this referendum?
So many conflicting things to consider, and don’t know what to believe? Disgusted with the bias displayed in government information paid for by us to give us balanced information on which to make a decision?
Fed up with our government/politicians? Is the answer to use more politicians further away serving under a committee which nobody denies is unelected, and yet tells the MEPs what to do ?
All this “fact-throwing” and fear-mongering is the clothes that Emperor wore – in the story where he was at last displaying in public the so-called highly refined exquisitely woven “invisible” clothes sold him by some clever experts/tailors, a simple little child exclaimed “look – the king has got no clothes on!”. And everybody suddenly saw through the bullsh1t, and there was just a naked king feeling he’d been fooled too.
You can discard all this clothing and check for yourself if what I say here is true or not. Not because I say so. Because you do.
Then see if you know what you want to vote.
How does it feel to actually be invited to say what you want? …!!! …(after all this time, about the EU)
Does it feel difficult, when you’re not conversant with the detailed facts?
-Well most of the politicians are not conversant with the detailed facts either, there is so much spin at all levels; they certainly are not conversant with the detailed facts of your local community, which is actually where most of your life takes place -its where YOU live, not “them” on high.
What is more, your own life experience is the most valid test of reality you have available. So a good place to start is there – you can look inside, in your memory, and in your heart.
Do you feel that your say is irrelevant because it never has much impact?
…or feel that even when you vote, you don’t necessarily get what you want, and if you do get what you vote for – its not even what you want, its a group of people (a political party) SAYING they will do it, and often they STILL don’t do it.
HERE ARE SOME FACTS. FACTS YOU CAN CHECK in your own experience, immediately:
You are being given a say. …For the first time ever about having your life run by this EU construction.(Not by European people).
You are given this say not by the EUconstruct, but by our own (though not brilliant) government, who you can kick out next time. And the next.
This vote is given to us by our democracy. You speaking on this is your power in how your life is run.
If you don’t want to have a say, this vote doesn’t matter much.
Simple. (You don’t have a problem! Stop reading.)
After all this time without any say, we are told “This is the last time you will have a say” on this EUthing. (In/Out –they say this will be permanent; or at least very long term. Given we’ve waited decades for THIS chance, it is likely to be very long term at least)
If you DO want to have a say, it seems pretty clear we need to KEEP that say. It is your access to democratic rule – so we can continue to have a say.
(… and thus get on to other things that matter to us here, and in what we do abroad. But starting at home!).
Is this enough information for you to know what your vote is going to be?
It is for me. I don’t like being bullied, or scared, or called stupid, or threatened, or dictated to. Especially when they are there to serve me, and I am paying for them, and they (EUthing) don’t even want to hear what I want.
I trust our humanity, and feel the system is closing us out of our human responsiveness – which starts with responsibility.
(EUthing? It IS a thing. It is a construct. It is not a continent. It is NOT our European brothers and sisters. They have had no say either… they are in the same boat and may like it as little as you do. This is why we are all being threatened so much with scare tactics and BIG figures. They are scared our European colleagues who haven’t had a say, will get the idea.
The EUthing-chiefs are scared (nobody will deny that) because they know this EUthing is dodgy in viability. Why? Because it has never been voted for, just imposed. They don’t dare test it, in case we don’t want it. They fear our European colleagues won’t want it either. WHY? Why would the EUthing-chiefs so fear that their people want out? Why?
Don’t they trust them? Why? Think about that.
They apparently don’t trust us either, since THEY didn’t give us this vote, and are making threats as to what they will do if we leave (there are several threats have been made).
On having a say in the world stage, we are being told that the EU is insisting on taking UK’s place at the world table – on our behalf (sort of “you move over now, leave it to us, we’re bigger and more capable (to look after your interests – and everyone elses).
The reality is… we are getting less and less direct say all the way up to our influence in the world.
I won’t go any further than that on how we get our say MORE directly relevant to our community, our life, our countryside, our country, our world.
I think this vote is how we start.
Now some personal ASSERTIONS you can check to see if they resonate as true as, or truer than, the froth we are being given:
Though our democratic politicians are causing us to become more and more sceptical, our democracy DID give us this vote
From all the above, I conclude THIS VOTE IS MY LAST GASP OF AIR OF DEMOCRACY – I CHOOSE TO USE THAT GASP OF AIR TO VOTE FOR HAVING A VOTE – DEMOCRACY.
SO I VOTE: Step out of the EU-net thing; Leave. To keep my vote. To keep – and then to improve – democracy locally.
With control still here, we then have a chance to get more direct votes on what OUR politicians are actually doing. And reform the system to make it more directly accountable, appropriate and relevant in our lives.
I PERONALLY CONCLUDE – IT’S TIME FOR REFORM OF THE WHOLE SHEBANG OF POLITICS AND ORGANISATION GENERALLY.
BIGGER IS DEADER (to paraphrase EF Schumacher’s “Small is beautiful”.),
Assertion – test if for yourself:
you get less, and less…. and less, say in this EU thing as it progresses.
My second assertion:
This vote is our last gasp of democratic air regarding the EUthing.
We are told (fact: we ARE told) this is our last chance.
To vote to escape out of the EUthing-net, is to keep your chance to vote about how our country is run.
(It also does NOT mean no-one can hear a distinct UK voice saying what it thinks on a world stage about the EUthing’s behaviour/practices/construction, and thus influencing it).
The power of our own democracy IS going to come under inexorable pressure in the EUthing, to drift away to its parliament over there, dictated to by that unelected committee, and watered down by more and more different cultures with far distant lands and different needs.
[For example: Our prime minister running to EU to beg/barter/horse-trade for slight softenings so he can do something at home to keep EU happy, whilst persuading us its ok really… (which EU then say they can rescind afterwards anyway!)]
The EUs decisions will become less and less relevant or appropriate to your needs in your community.
(please note, I am labelling it as an assertion because it is. I invite you to try it on and see if it resonates as having any value or importance or relevance or truth in it)
YOUR VOTE IS NOT JUST FOR THE “EUthing”.
THIS VOTE IS FOR YOUR POWER OF DEMOCRACY TO REMAIN IN YOUR HANDS FIRST AND FOREMOST.
In your hands, the relevance of your vote to your country, then your county, then your community can continue to be worked on.
I BELIEVE THIS VOTE IS A REMINDER TO US – AND TO OTHERS IN THE WORLD – OF THE IMPORTANCE OF OUR SAY, UNLESS DEMOCRACY IS A LIE.
We can use our vote to work on lying in politics too… (And I reckon it’ll do more to reform the EU than any struggling begging within it has ever done. Just WATCH THEM SCRABBLE HASTILY FOR REFORM!…
I say – VOTE TO KEEP YOUR VOTE, AND THUS TO CONTINUE TO VOTE FOR MORE RELEVANCE.
To me, this means STEP OUT OF THE EUthing. (they call this “Leave”)
What does this vote mean to you? Stay or Step out?
I believe this vote is going to prove historic. It is high time to clean up politics and get HUMANITY running things, not fear or big systems.
I will be voting Leave. This is because I rate all of the issues and outcomes you describe as secondary to the one over-arching priority for me – that of the need for sound democracy in the UK. I insist on having national policies that are aligned to parties and people for whom I can vote, or perhaps more importantly, vote out. These is no substantive democracy in the EU, rather it is a process of proportional representation where MEPS can, but seldom do, vote down legislation passing through. This is not good enough, and there is zero chance of the UK changing the organisational architecture from within. Therefore we must leave. This completely over-rides your various points in importance. I feel you have become obsessed with the minutiae whereas I prefer to vote based on the big picture. I prefer to live in a country that may be poorer, but which is democratic. And in fact I believe we will be better off because we will have the flexibility to sell our products and services where it best suits us i.e. we will be competitive and not just average in our national performance.
Absolutely spot on Geoff! Extremely well put. I know little of economics even though my son is looking forward (?) to his A levels in economics next week.
I think you are right in what you say that our economy may well improve if we leave. We would have more chance of greater trading with the US once Obama is history. The same would apply to other nations around the world, including those from the old Commonwealth – roughly more than billion people! In my opinion, country A trades with country B essentially because it is in their self interest. If the EU refused to trade with us, we would be obliged to reciprocate. We lose 0.5 billion population and gain 1+ billion. The gain would be, most likely, more favourable to the UK. We would be obliged to make it more difficult for Germany to sell their (exhausting and lying) cars in the UK. Germany may find other markets, but, like us, they would have to seek those markets.
It is not about money but about control! All the lies that the Oxford Oaf tells in the Commons are very unlikely to change views. For one, I hope we leave the EU on good terms and that the Oxford Oaf is forced to resign!
How sad. An excellent article that really should have had the comments disabled. Doesn’t sound like anyone commenting read the article or understood any of the points made in it.
I know what you mean. But that’s the problem with this entire debate.
This article clearly answers the ‘democracy’ argument and you still get 10 people complaining that it doesn’t answer the ‘democracy’ argument. It’s disheartening but at the same time, revealing, I suppose.
A refreshingly unemotive and realistic read. Quite similar to one I wrote, also aiming for balance and honesty: http://davepw.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/brexit-wounds-britain-shooting-itself.html
Thanks for the comments,
I’d just like to say I am British, the letter above was written by a Mr John Baxevanidis, a current resident in the UK.
I had a torrid time with this man, who seemed to be in the UK against his will? The reason he remained in education was to avoid the draft!
I could not understand his constant criticism of anything not connected to Greece.
The uk has always and will welcome visitors and traders, I currently live in France I find the language difficult but the people are people just like you and I.
From this side of the channel I do not think leaving or staying will make the slightest difference to the people in the streets or countryside, on that basis I will probably vote to leave, I see most ties are historical and will remain, in my opinion trade will be unaffected, sporting ties will stay and a final thought I cannot see the digging up and return of the great fallen at anytime
Douglas an Englishman in France.
Many thanks for the very prompt reply.
I am not surprised you had a torrid time with John. I must admit it was difficult to work out what he was saying and if it had any relevance to Brexit. I am not impressed with draft dodgers and was looking forward to serving before they cancelled the draft here. Then again, he may have had good reasons.
Generally, I find nearly all people of various nationalities reasonable and pleasant. I like Greece, Spain, Italy and France.
Glad to see you are leaning towards the Leave campaign. If Leave wins, there may be some silly comments flying around for a few weeks, but then matters will settle down and everyone will wonder what all the fuss was about.
All good wishes,
I read many of these comments and wonder?
Are we too well informed to make up our own minds? Information overload…
Does it really make any difference if we remain or stay? Not really.
Who benefits and if somebody does there is usually a loser? I gain nothing…
If we leave, we can always change our minds? That’s democracy or maybe not?
For the average human being struggling for survival; nobody knows what’s round the corner, it’s a gamble, calm down and let the vote decide.
In the EU only the German people can influence decisions with your vote. In other member states the rule is imposed by unelected commissars of the will of the German government. Germany divides EU members in satellites and protectorates. An example of the former is the Netherlands and Luxembourg. The example of the latter are Portugal and Greece. The satellite countries are governed by local elites who provide service to administer the protectorate in the service of German interests. The UK has established itself in the twentieth century as the most consistent country in resisting attempts domain of Europe by Germany. In the twenty-first century Germany secured the area of Europe and the end of democracy in the dominated countries, without firing a single shot, only with the complicity of “national elites”. The UK still has sufficient autonomy to make a referendum, because it is not yet in the protectorate status. But if you continue in the EU will be reduced to this role and democracy in Europe will be a gap of many years. So if the UK output materializes, it will be the country that Europe will be due to braking antidemocratic hegemony of Germany.
Please, please please. Vote FOR LEAVING. Anything to weaken that monster, the newly reborn Soviet Union, EU. You have the chance to vote, we don’t. But maybe even we could have a slight chance, one day…
Thank you for your vote, if it is on the side of leaving. If not, you’ll be doomed too.
Careful with the insults, Mike. Your comments might get deleted again.
Having sovereignty is having the right to choose whether to remain or when to leave. The time is not right and a n exit now could trigger a domino effect with the break up of the UK and the EU. These might happen if we remain but surely working for reform from within is preferable to taking such a risk now. If we don’t like the future the option to leave will come again but with so much anti-EU feeling across the continent, reform must come.
Bryan, sovereignty is much more than that.
After 42 years we are frustrated beyond belief with the direction and undemocratic nature of the EU Commission. We have a chance to get back the control and make our own choices on every facet of our lives. That’s what many people want for themselves and for their families.
We will always be European – wanting to live in harmony with other Europeans how we democratically decide that. We are also global citizens. Our cultural values will prevail quite well outside the EU of today.
Furthermore I think the EU will change completely over the next years if the UK decides to leave. The EU is already struggling and will be weaker once we leave. Who knows – based on our size, political importance and competitive nature, our decision to leave will stimulate new EU policy.
We have covered this at length.
Trying to change the EU from within is always the siren song; the EU conned us for years with this.
I say yet once more that when the UK was considering joining the then EEC we were visitied weekly by German & Dutch politicians saying that we cannot change from without, but once we joined the EEC they wouild be with us to change the CAP & all other nasties that the French invented. However once we wre in we were entirely on our own. Abandoned because we were conned. That is an absolute fact.
Jim: Facts are hard to come by in this debate, unlike opinions which are subjective. My opinion is that pressure to change the EU from within increase as more countries have the same debates and concerns as the British. Democracy will out, and democracy is a prerequisite of all member states. That is a fact not an opinion.
It would be well to notice that the UK is always outvoted on any issue dealing with ever closer union which is accepted by a massive majority of EU member states.
We will never change that.
Please don`t tell me that dear old Dave got us an opt out. Dave didn`t get an opt out for the other 27 states. They still want ever closer union & we can`t stop it.
We never have in these 43 years gone by & we will not do so in the future were we foolish enoufgjh to believe them this time.
Again I point out that the EU has been the subject of a reverse takeover by the Euro-zone.
You cannot believe in a concept.
No, I’m not a student. I have no connection with the LSE whatsoever. I did enjoy this article, though.
Jazza – Rhetoric is not a basis upon which to decide on fundamental change. One of your phrases strikes me – Who knows. Very true, why gamble.
Woe, woe thrice woe. Do you really think all this will help us to decide. There are actually thousands of people who remember WWII but don’t hold grudges. Rubbish that we need Europe more than they need us. How do we manage to have the best economy if we need them so much. Like the eurovision song contest – we contribute the most and get the least back. How can you say that we won’t have the money we now contribute to the EU if we leave? Where will it be then?
Why do we have to import so much that we could provide for ourselves ourselves like we used to? Because that’s the way things have gone since we were conned into joining a political union, not the trading union we thought we were joining.
Although still undecided I lean to voting OUT.
Dr Barr’s open letter is illuminating, and reading the very diverse opinions of commentators in this thread has been equally illuminating, albeit in a rather different way! What I think Dr Barr does not realise is how much the general public distrust and dislike – I had almost said ‘loath’ – politicians, journalists and academic ‘experts’.
1] We are very fed up with ‘spin’ and dissimulation from our ruling elite. Hence, when Mr Cameron, Mr Obama, and Madame Lagarde, head of the IMF, all tell me to vote to stay in the EU, my immediate reaction is to think that I must vote to leave, as I find that I do not trust a word they say.
2] We are very fed up with the attempts at manipulating our worldview, to make it conform to what might be called Western ‘neo-liberalism’, with its values of relativism, subjectivism and apathy. I much prefer the traditional Western worldview expressed by Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas, which is built on the belief in absolute and objective truth, goodness and beauty, and the acknowledgement that to attain these requires the difficult intellectual virtues of deep contemplation of reality and profound thought to realise the truth; and the hard moral virtues of courage, justice, and self-restraint to realise the good.
3] We are, thus, very fed up with the divergent and contradictory opinions of so-called ‘experts’; especially as we no longer feel that they can be relied upon to be trustworthy and disinterested, nor to give an informed view in the national interest.
4] We are very fed up with ever-increasing legislation and bureaucratisation, to the extent that it feels that every aspect of our lives is under scrutiny by some authority, whether local, national or international.
5] We are very fed up with the ever-increasing totalitarian claims of the so-called market economy and the concomitant falsehood that everything can be assessed in terms of monetary value: that every activity must be driven by ‘value for money’ and profit – actually, it mustn’t; that ‘time is money’ – actually, it isn’t; that ‘every man has his price’ – actually, he doesn’t. This awful and vulgar view of human society denies that there are very many areas of human endeavour and activity which are utterly incommensurable; that these activities are the very ones which show us at our most human, and that they and we are corrupted and enslaved when any attempt is made to ascribe monetary or economic value to them.
6] We are, therefore, very fed up with seeing economic and political leaders profiting from globalised capitalism, especially CEOs who get obscenely huge bonuses, while the average man in the street is increasingly struggling to secure his own and his children’s future. Not to mention the increasing inequity between the affluent West and the so-called developing nations around the globe.
The vote about whether or not the United Kingdom should leave the EU clearly does involve economic and political considerations, but I would like to suggest that the really important fundamental question is whether or not our membership of the EU hinders us (and other nations) in realising truth, goodness and beauty. This may seem an absurdly abstract question, but it has tremendous implications in every sphere of our lives: in personal and community well-being; in education; in the visual arts and literature; in town-planning; in justice and law; in the economy; and in politics, because the basic principle which underlies the possibility of realising the true, the good and the beautiful is freedom. Freedom from any kind of totalitarian claim by disordered politics, economics, education, or ideology, which cease to see the individual human being as having inherent worth and dignity, and, instead, try to control and manipulate persons by misinformation, dissimulation and implicit threats and sanction if the person dares to go against the views and values of the ruling elite.
It is arguable that the referendum on whether or not to stay in the EU is a chance for the British public to send a clear message to the ruling elite, both in the UK and across the globe, that we are no longer willing to submit to disordered politics and economics, nor to acquiesce in politicised education, inequity – both locally and globally, and loss of freedoms and civil liberties under vague threats of ‘future economic doom’ and ‘global terror’.
I’d like to see that put to the British electorate:
Q: “Does our membership of the EU hinders us (and other nations) in realising truth, goodness and beauty.”
My friend, to quote someone, to look for heaven is to live here in hell. If the polls are true, the British (or more specifically, the English over a certain age) are about to have a massive sense of humour failure and kick us out of one of the only decent attempts at international co-operation in our sorry short history as a species. All because of a kind of wounded pride and some semantic pedantry. Get real. The EU is probably absurd, but so is the whole shebang. Globalisation continues apace whether we stay or go; it’s a scant few Poles here or there the difference, and a different set of elites making the rules. I’ll take the well-meaning set in Brussels, yeah the experts and the politicians and the journos, over your semi-pro soapboxers anyday.
What a phenomenal summary! As a”Yank” I have no bone in this fight. But I just had to leave a :thumbsup for your spirited eloquence! Reminded me of readings in Greek Lit and Philosophy 201. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for your kind comment; we over here in Europe are also watching the US presidential race with great interest. It seems that the whole Western world it is at a potentially epoch-changing juncture this year, and who knows what the future holds? Both a disturbing and a hopeful time in which to be alive. 🙂
Thanks, Alex, for your response to my post.
As far as I can recall your advice to me to ‘get real’ is the first time anyone has ever told me that I am idealistic; normally my friends and acquaintances accuse me of being at the opposite extreme! I’m not sure whether or not to feel flattered. 😉
I absolutely agree with you that all attempts to create an ideologically-based ‘heaven on earth’ have had dire consequences and created a hell instead; one only need consider the history of the Soviet and Nazi regimes to reach that conclusion. As I seem to have failed to make myself clear in my original post, please may I reassure you that I was not advocating a centralised effort to create ‘heaven on earth’.
While I again acknowledge that my thesis must seem absurdly abstract in the current debate, what I am claiming – along with other ‘soapboxers’ such as Socrates (as portrayed by both Plato and Xenophon), Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, and many other central figures in the history of Western philosophy and thought, such as Dante, Goethe and Blaise Pascal, to name just three – what I am claiming, I say, is that the truly important foundations of any civilisation consist of abstract things, such as freedom, and the love of truth, beauty and goodness, which are not commensurable in economic terms and, indeed, cannot even be pursued for economic ends, as this inevitably corrupts and diminishes them. These incommensurable things are absolutely central to any idea of humane living – they are also only attainable in a society which values them and which encourages its citizens to strive for excellence, which in good old-fashioned speak means to strive for virtue. It is not coincidental that Aristotle’s ‘Ethics’ was written as an introduction to his ‘Politics’.
(Please note that in this list of great Western thinkers I have deliberately not included a single Briton; whatever else you may accuse me of, being a narrow-minded chauvinist or nationalist is not one of them, I hope.)
If one argues that contemporary politics in the UK and across Europe is disordered and, possibly even corrupt, one could argue that the EU has contributed to this disordering and that it, therefore, makes sense to stand against such a disordered political process by choosing to leave the EU, as this may be the first step in restoring order to UK politics and, from there, to the rest of Europe as well.
The fact that politicians from both the UK and other European nations lied to the British public about the real nature of what entering the EEC meant, as other contributors to this thread have claimed, means that to mistrust the politicians now is not just “semantic pedantry”; it is about the love of truth and the pursuit of goodness. When he was UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld wrote:
“Respect for the word is the first commandment in the discipline by which a man can be educated to maturity – intellectual, emotional and moral. Respect for the word – to employ it with scrupulous care and an incorruptible heart-felt love of truth – is essential if there is to be any growth in a society or in the human race. To misuse the word is to show contempt for man. It undermines the bridges and poisons the wells. It causes Man to regress down the long path of his evolution.”
Of course, such a sentiment may seem hopelessly idealistic and naïve, and one may feel that Hammarskjöld needs to “get real”, but I’ll continue to believe that it is better to seek after truth and goodness and beauty, and to strive with all my might and main to help create a society in which these things are honoured and upheld, than to dismiss them as “semantic pedantry” and advocate sticking with a flawed system that is, by your own admission, “probably absurd”. I would argue that such absurdity is precisely the result of a disordered body politic, which has rejected truth and goodness and has chosen to subscribe to the dehumanising theories of men such as Gorgias, Protagoras, Machiavelli and Nietzsche.
I do not hope to persuade you that what I am advocating here is sensible or realistic, but for myself, I shall take the counsel of the majority of the great thinkers in European history, “semi-pro soapboxers” though they be, over a contemporary political elite which thinks nothing of deceiving the public they are elected to serve, and sees every aspect of human existence largely or solely in terms of monetary value.
+Baba Nzou – re your post of June 19th, quoting philosophers etc.
Well said, all of it.
I am of the same mind, and have been doing my bit to show Leave is not all just racist, small-minded claptrap.
I am utterly dismayed by the vituperation and vile invective that have been flooding social media since the Referendum result was announced; coming from both sides, but I feel primarily from those who voted remain. As I made clear in an earlier post on this thread, I have absolutely no sympathy for the aggressive chauvinists who are telling Poles and others to get out of the UK; I am disgusted by it, but it would be good to hear our PM remind those who voted remain that to vilify those who voted leave is no less a form of hateful intimidation than spraying anonymous graffiti on walls. In fact, it can be even more hateful on social media, as the vituperative posts seem often to be aimed at persons who are known to the ‘poster’.
I am also really dismayed by the biased media coverage which continues to stir up fear by slanted reporting and suggestive insinuating headlines. It is dishonest and utterly irresponsible, but will probably continue as the momentum for a second referendum gains headway. It is, I believe, a deliberate campaign of trying to discredit prominent campaigners on the Leave side, as well as subtle intimidation of those who voted leave in the referendum.
I am truly heart-sore at all the fear and hatred which has been deliberately and irresponsibly stirred up in the UK, and I am dismayed at the prevarication by our political elite, as they seek to stall invoking Article 50 to initiate the process. I don’t believe that they ever intend to. If one studies the short history of the EU it is very apparent that whenever there has been a national referendum which has returned a vote the EU executive don’t like, the nation is made to go back the polls for a second referendum (after a suitable period of ‘re-education’) to ensure that they return the ‘correct’ vote the second time; we will be no different, I fear. So much for democracy; but then again, the whole EU project is fundamentally undemocratic, unaccountable and dictatorial.
As a ‘colonial’ I have spent 2/3 of my life living in totalitarian countries, where elections were held but only as a façade as all government executive positions went to party appointees; where the ruling party could simply disregard the law and were immune from prosecution or from any form of being held to account; in other words, where the rule of law counted for nothing. I do not think the British peoples realise just how wonderful it is to have the safeguard of separate and distinct executive, legislature and judiciary; I do not think they appreciate what a privilege it is to be able to choose your legislature through democratic elections and to remove them if they don’t perform; I do not think they understand or value the fundamental concept of the rule of law, that everyone in government – executive, legislature, judiciary – is equally as subject to the law as the least in the land. I am deeply worried that the British peoples will throw away these wonderful safeguards and liberties by overturning the referendum result and choosing to stay in the EU.
Sorry, too long a post, when I just wished to acknowledge your kind comments. :-/
I think we may well Remain by a whisker but the left leaning media and academics and orthodoxy might well infuse a Thatcherite reaction in England. A charismatic Boris ticket advocating some fairly fruity ideas on immigration and Europe not unthinkable if we remain.
Being European, I find it vexing that the UK may choose to remain a member without wholeheartedly adopting the dream, a united federal Europe. For me, Europe is first and foremost a humanist political vision – better together – much more than just a pragmatic economic exchange zone.
Yes, Europe is perfectible, look around you, who or what isn’t?
I say, Europe, love it or …
Here is the BIG reason for staying in the EU; history shows that peoples who co-operate and work together for the common good prosper and have peace, and those who isolate themselves eventually fall by the wayside. Never mind all the short-term stuff, it is this long-term effect that matters.
As Keynes remarked, “In the long term, we are all dead.”
I am not sure that your statement is true, although it’s a good sentiment.
I think, if you examine the history of Europe, you will discover that the only times when different European nationalities and linguistic groups have been under a single unified government have been when they are under some form of centralised imperial rule which has been imposed and maintained by force. Consider, for example, the Roman Empire; the Frankish Kingdom of Charlemagne; The Byzantine Empire; the Holy Roman Empire; Napoleonic France, Tsarist Russia, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Second and Third Reichs in Germany, and the Soviet Union. One can show this principle to be true in other parts of the world, too: the various dynasties in China up to the present, or in modern times, the Portuguese, French and British Empires; all of these empires imposed co-operation between very diverse ethnic groups and polities, but no-one would argue that the ordinary person was free under any of these empires, although there was ‘peace’ (of a sort) and ‘law and order’, certainly under Rome and within the British Empire. But even the claim of ‘peace’ must be seen against the numerous punitive and ‘policing’ actions to maintain imperial authority and rule in diverse provinces. Consider the comment by Tacitus, a member of the Roman elite, describing the Pax Romana – the Roman Peace: “To plunder, to slaughter, to ravish, they falsely call empire, and where they make a desert, they call it peace.” “auferre trucidare rapere falsis nominibus imperium, atque ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.” (Tactitus, ‘De Vita Agricolae’ 30)
I agree that ‘isolationism’ is not the way ahead; but I do not think the majority of those who favour leaving the EU are advocating isolation from Europe; there are too many cultural, historic, and economic ties for that to be feasible, and it is certainly not desirable.
What I think is motivating most of those who want the UK to leave the EU is the realisation that remaining will commit us to ever closer political union – not just a free trade zone, as the EEC was initially described – and if history can be said to show anything, it is that European-wide political union can only be achieved by an unelected centralised government which imposes its will on the diverse nations, polities, ethnic groups, etc. across the continent, with a concomitant loss of civil liberties, political sovereignty, and – paradoxically – free trade.
The Euro Zone will eventually tear itself apart from within. It’s only a matter of time. Cyprus and Greece are only the beginning. You can’t have a monetary union without having a political union. How do you get the disparate constituencies of 28 countries on board with relinquishing a significant degree of sovereignty to an unelected body in Brussels? Ultimately, self interests will prevail. Look at the mess that Merkel has on her hands even as Germany is pretty much the lone beacon of Eurozone success (at the moment).
It’s my opinion we are watching this great unwind happen right in front of our eyes. Of course, events like this one can happen over the course of years or decades. Generally, things remain functional until they don’t.
If had a vote, I would certainly get out before the house of cards collapses because you will be that much further ahead in global negotiations than any of the other 27 countries.
Fantastic Piece of journalism moving forward and a great analysis of the current ‘brexit’. Interested to see how this will hit education the most, although we’ll soon find out i’m sure we will.
Here is a link to the Oxford Union debate about whether or not the UK should leave the EU:
It is well worth watching/listening to.
This referendum is based on a false assumption that the EU is going to survive! Without full fiscal control, the euro is will eventually collapse (As quoted by Mervin King Ex-Governor of the Bank of England). The euro can only be saved with total integration which is the prime directive of the EU and why it was created! and by deception…”Europe’s nations should be guided towards the super-state without their people understanding what is happening. This can be accomplished by successive steps each disguised as having an economic purpose, but which will eventually and irreversibly lead to federation”….
The UK does not use the euro has ruled out further integration and therefore seems totally illogical to remain as we would have to leave at a later date. Aside from that fact, the EU is a dangerous, isolationist, dysfunctional anti-democratic failed political project. It destroys economies, cultures in the pursuit of power and gives rise to extreme right wing politics. It creates more problems than it solves. It’s Brexit now or later, but inevitably Brexit.
Tom, an interesting post.
I am not so sanguine as you are that the EU will not survive, and I am, therefore, not at all sure that ‘Brexit’ is even possible, let alone inevitable at some stage later, if it doesn’t happen now.
In fact, I believe this is the UK’s last chance to withdraw from the EU before we are committed to deeper and closer legal and political union, from which it will prove impossible to withdraw in the future.
If the UK chooses to stay within the EU now and then tries to withdraw in, say, 20 years’ time, I fear that the political and legal centralisation that is at the heart of the EU programme will have so bound us to the EU that it will be seen as an attempt at ‘secession’ and we will be kept in forcibly and, at some stage therefore, probably forced to adopt the Euro too.
I admit that my concerns about the future are speculative, but they arise from a rational prognosis of the EU based on my interpretation of historical facts and on the current aspirations and recent statements and actions of those politicians and bureaucrats who wish to see a federation or other politically centralised union of European nations.
Thanks for the comments. I share your concerns. My main point was one of logic. No one during this debate seems to have pushed Cameron on why he is not committed to the EU project or why he refuses to join the Euro. This would surely force a negative response on the EU. The euro will only survive with the economic mechanisms to control fiscal policy which requires total integration. The UK has ruled out further integration and use of the euro and therefore is going to be in an awkward position when this takes place. I agree that the UK may not have any options at that time and be forced to give up the pound which makes the idea of remaining in the EU more dangerous and frustrating.
My analysis. The EU is a club. 28 countries have agreed to help each other by having common standards for employers, workers and products within their shared trading area, which helps to turn it into a single market with a level playing field for all. This club needs rules. All the national governments bargain with each other over the details of the shared rules about trade, etc. that they will all accept. This goes on all the time. They then tell the European Commission (the Brussels civil service, or, for short, ‘Brussels’) to draw the rules up formally and they are then enforced by all the national governments.
The UK is the second most powerful country in the EU, after Germany. Germany and 18 other countries are in the Eurozone, ie their currency is the Euro. UK and 7 other countries, just under a third of the total, are outside the Eurozone. If UK leaves this means there will be no powerful counterbalance to German power in the EU. The Germans do not want us to leave. UK is a powerful ally and a very useful sparring partner making sure everything is properly discussed. UK gets its own way a lot of the time. We have got good diplomats. Most things don’t even come to a vote. London’s financial market benefits hugely from the trading it does in the Euro, and also has the most powerful banks in the EU. If we leave, EU banks including the European Central Bank may try to restrict London’s right to trade in the Euro.
The EU including UK has been recently suffering from two things. One is the collapse of stable governments in North Africa, Middle East and Central Asia. Rightly or wrongly, UK, US and France helped create this situation (eg in Libya, Iraq Afghanistan) and Russia has taken advantage by increasing the instability. The overall result has been a sudden surge of migration into Europe. The EU has not coordinated its response well. Why? Because it is a club, not a centralized bureaucracy. But notice what happens when stable countries become unstable: their neighbours get politically disrupted and shaken up. That is what has happened to the EU in the last few years.
This will happen to the UK if the EU itself becomes unstable and starts to break up. We will be deeply affected. It could easily happen. Look what happened to Yugoslavia. It was a stable federal country before 1989. By the mid-1990s there was a vicious war. It is not stupid to envisage that if UK leaves this could easily be the start of the break-up of the EU, helped along by Russia perhaps. That will mean that instability will be coming not from the Mediterranean coast but from much closer to home. It is in our interests to keep EU strong and well run. The best way to do that is to remain inside the EU.
The other EU problem was the 2007 recession, which was caused by shenanigans on Wall St in the USA. The Eurozone response was rigid and unimaginative, imposing uniform austerity in a very cruel way. To be frank, the UK government copied most of those measures but was able to come out of the recession more quickly than, say, France. Partly this was because of the strength of our financial sector, ie the City of London.
Some economists think that another reason UK came out of the recession so quickly was that it was able to expand rapidly in areas of production that depended on large amounts of educated semi-skilled labour drawing in migrant workers. 1,000,000 (one million) new jobs have been created in the past three years. In the same period about 700,000 additional workers from EU have been recruited. Net migration to the UK (both EU and non-EU) is currently running at over 300,00 per year so our expanding economy is bringing in new immigrants but also creating roughly the same number of additional jobs. You can check this out at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/eu-referendum-immigration-and-brexit-what-lies-have-been-spread-a7092521.html and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36382199. For the record, in 2016 the proportion of UK residents born abroad is 13% (and that includes Boris Johnson). Over half of them were born outside the EU. Migrants from EU are less than half of that 13%. It is likely that net immigration will slow down as the other EU states’ economies recover.
I am also thinking about job rights, health and safety standards, holiday rights, maternity rights, gender equality, protection for the young, elderly and disabled and so on. These rights are in EU law because we helped to put them there. It would be foolish and blind to throw these protections away.
The leaders of the Leave campaign want to cut our rights and benefits to the bone. They want a UK where social services are cut down to the absolute minimum. They want to privatize the NHS. They would create a world where commercial lobby groups can set their own low standards to boost their profits. If we don’t want to go back to the time before our welfare state it would make sense to vote to remain in the EU.
Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission President, has told reporters in Brussels “out is out”.
He said David Cameron had secured the “maximum” Brussels could give, adding there will be no further renegotiations.
He said: “British voters have to know there will be no kind of any negotiation. We have concluded a deal with the prime minister.
“He got the maximum he could receive, and we gave the maximum we could give, so there will be no kind of renegotiation.”
Am I the only one who views this statement as perfectly contradictory to Cameron’s “Reform the EU from with the EU” position?
Juncker did the remain camp no favors by saying that. Actually, he makes a pretty good argument for leaving right from the horse’s mouth!
A Brexit vote will lead to a major global financial crisis. Britain economy will shrink, the pound will take a beating expect interest rates to rise and unemployment levels. I hope Bremain will take the day. Read http://expertwritinghelp.com/blog/2016/05/09/essay-on-economic-consequences-of-brexit/ makes interesting read for finance students.