Some thoughts on the EU referendum

Why we are here in the first place.

Before the last election Cameron was under pressure.  A hung parliament looked likely and the right of the Tory party was demanding action on Europe to counter the rise in the popularity of UKIP in certain marginal seats.  I imagine no PM would want a referendum in the current climate.  With austerity still in full flow, the common consequence of economic downturns, is to blame it on anyone else, especially by a Tory owned press intent on their own agenda, a referendum was always going to be tricky.  I believe Cameron offered an EU referendum believing that a coalition government would be returned and that he could then cancel it and blame it on the LibDems.  When he won a majority he was stuck with it.

The Economic argument.

From what I can see neither party can accurately predict what the economic consequences of leaving the EU will be.  If on the 23rd we vote to leave there will then follow a period of at least two years before we finally leave the Economic Union.  This could be spun out as long as possible either by the Government to maximise the benefits to us, or by the rest of Europe as we negotiate for a better deal.  One thing is certain is that the markets, the financial investors and the currency dealers do not like uncertainty.  I cannot see any other outcome  other than an economic squeeze on Britain.  I suspect in ten year’s time we will reach a new financial equilibrium so that leaving  might not make a lot of difference but that is a risk.  Why take that risk?

Loss of sovereignty

This is the idea that we are not in control of our own laws.  The portion of our legislature that is controlled by the EU is difficult to measure; figures vary from 6%-75% depending on who you ask.  It gets difficult as some of our “own” laws are set to fit in with “EU” ones.  The EU portion largely covers laws around trade, worker’s rights and the environment. These are things that help us generally; for example the environment often doesn’t understand national borders.  Remember the acid rain that we and the Germans created that caused deforestation in the Baltic states? For anything major we have our veto.  For anything really major there is often a requirement that it has to be a unanimous decision of the EU countries leaders, an absolute veto.  Even within these parameters Britain has much freer working practices which is why companies like Nissan have their cars built here.  This also gives them tariff free access to the EU, worth remembering.

Loss of sovereignty happens the moment you move away from the idea of an Englishman’s home is his castle.  We all accept a degree of loss of sovereignty, we lose control over certain things we can and cannot do in our home as we understand that it is for the greater good that we don’t throw our rubbish onto the streets, and our dirty water over our neighbour’s garden.  We allow the council to take it away and give over some of our sovereignty.  In South Yorkshire we have suffered a loss of sovereignty as politicians in London govern us with little or no representation in our area.  We have to suffer policies we don’t agree with.  This has happened since the north east joined the rest of Wessex and the Danelaw was given up.  No amount of voting in Barnsley for the political party of choice is going to sway the current ruling party in Westminster.

Instead in Europe we lose a small percentage of our sovereignty to gain a say in the sovereignty of all the other countries.  We can now have a say in the laws that are passed in France, Germany etc.  This is a great advantage.  If we leave the EU we can no longer do this.  They might listen to us, they might not. It is also an advantage with regards trade.  If there are EU laws that severely hinder British industry an exit vote leaves with no ability to affect this.

The immigration issue.

I will base all my arguments about the last posted figures I saw quoted.  Last year 180,000 immigrants was the net figure from Europe and 188,000 from the rest of the world.  Yes more people chose to come here from those countries often many, many miles away from us, about which we are supposed to have a lot more control, than came from those Europe, a mere 23 miles away across the channel.  People coming to Britain nearly always come to look for work and a better future.  Every financial study shows the net benefit of immigration to such an extent that the Leave party seem to have stop suggesting it.  After the Schrodinger immigration story came out, even the benefit angle seems to be diminishing.  (this was the idea that immigrants were both work shy and claiming benefits whilst simultaneously stealing our jobs.)

So, even the Leave party tend now to admit that there will never be zero immigration.  So lets say we are concentrating on those immigrants from Europe that we supposedly have no control over. (more on that later) They amount to 180,000 out of our total population of 80,000,000.  A simple sum tells us that this is 0.29%.  As they say on the news less than a third of 1%.  The NHS treat 1 million people every 36 hours. Most immigrants are fit people (some of them have walked across Europe) so they are unlikely to hit the hospitals and GP surgeries all at once.

Finally as mentioned above; if we vote out on 23rd June, then from the 24th June people in Europe have roughly two years of easier access to the UK.  The starting gun will be fired, the race will be on.  I suspect that for the next two years we will see even more immigration as people try to get in before the drawbridge is raised.

The greater good

Below is an article that made an impression on me.  It reflects on some of the issues as to why we entered the EU in the first place.




Posted June 11, 2016 by agittner

%d bloggers like this: