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The mantra of the terminally stupid, and increasingly the default response of those who believe the UK should leave Europe when they are asked a question that they do not have any reply to.
That's the subject of today's posting. "Bremain" or "Brexit", to give it the dumb populist names.
So... The British people are shortly (June 23rd) to have a referendum on whether or not to remain a part of "Europe". despite the not-so-United Kingdom and Europe having a history that stretches back for thousands of years. The UK is a part of Europe, politically and physically. To think otherwise is madness. To decide to turn their backs on trading partners and establish ties with the old Commonwealth is madness.
Yet, the likes of the UKIP seem only able to see as far as "Oh noes!!!1!! Europe is evullllll!" and demand that the country immediately walk away from such a corrupt and horrible institution.
What they aren't quite so clear on is what happens next. They've suggested it all - a Norway-style membership, a Swiss-style membership, a Canadian-style membership. But what they can't get around is the reality that right now, as things are, Britain actually has a pretty good place in Europe.
Britain is one of the important players, and while it is outside of the Eurozone, one of London's principal activities is the financial centre. Moreso than elsewhere in Europe. Britain has its infamous and oft-quoted opt-out to give the government the ability to decline legislation that they do not believe is in the national interest. Britain and its MEPs are an active part of the European decision making process. The Leave campaign points out that Europe often vetoes things that Britain wants, as if Britain itself has never vetoed anything.
However it is well worth considering the situation outside of Europe. British companies will still want to trade with Europe. Business will still take place. And all of that will still be subject to the pan-European rules of which Britain would no longer be a part. Other countries would make the rules and a Britain outside of the EU would no longer have any influence. Rather like Norway. And Switzerland. And Canada. Even the mighty America is starting to feel the effects of ignoring EU law.
Don't get me wrong here, there are a lot of things broken in the way the EU as a whole operates, and I foresee a point when a fundamental change is inevitable. Change does not happen by walking away. Change happens from within. Britain is actually well placed right now to be a part of that change - a voice within Europe that is not inextricably tied to every legislative detail.
The alternative? To have imaginings of how much more awesome Britain was in the sixties... you know, when the country had coal mines, car production, and actually made stuff in factories, when girls wore dresses of every bright colour at the same time, when John, Paul, George, and Ringo defined an entire generation; the days before all hell broke loose with the unions, the days before the flash cash eighties and Thatcherism; the days when people think Britain was its very best. Which was over half a century ago. And like all of our childhoods, it has gone. Now just memories. And it isn't ever coming back. We have changed. The world has changed. Everything has changed. Evolution is the process of adapting to change. In evolutionary terms, organisms that fail to adapt eventually die off. Is Britain willing to become a large-scale example of this same process?
The problem lies in the fact that the demographic for voting to leave the EU are the less well-educated people over the age of 55. They have been lied to for decades about how everything that has gone wrong is the fault of Europe, and are particularly being targeted by the media - who know there is comfort in the reassuring lies. These are the people most likely to vote to come out of the EU, and they are the ones most likely to cock up the futures of generations of British. I can't put it any more bluntly than that.
When the issues are raised and questioned, eventually the Leave campaign resorts to their favourite mantra of "You're scaremongering", or in the case of the ex-Defra secretary Owen Pattinson (with thanks to Mom for spotting this on BBC Radio 4's Farming Today), when asked a difficult question he actually responded by saying sarcastically "...dragons will come out of the taps". How can anybody have a sensible discussion regarding the future of an entire country with logic like that in the conversation?
The Rt. Hon. Mr. Pattinson, I should point out, allegedly came up with the idea that the best way to get rid of foreigners picking fruit and vegetables on British farms would be to employ pensioners to do it, and also to tweak labour laws to pay them less than minimum wage in order that they be competitive with the foreigners. Mr. Pattinson disputes this version of accounts. There's more info if you look him up on Wikipedia and follow the reference links.
So let's look at some of these issues, shall we?
Horrible stinkin' furriners cloggin' up the NHS
The odd thing here is that many of the European migrants looking for work in the UK are going to be fairly able bodied, they wouldn't be employed otherwise. The reason the NHS has a greater workload is because the population as a whole is aging. People often point to Japan here, as a country with a low birthrate where everybody is getting older...as if it is some sort of anomaly. It is one of the strongest examples of an aging population, certainly, but the effect is happening elsewhere. Birthrates are declining, partially due to modern ways of life, and old people aren't dying quickly enough thanks to advances in medicine. The population is aging. It's that simple.
Now ask yourself, if the UK implements a full withdrawal from the EU and starts kicking out "foreigners", the EU countries are likely to reciprocate this action. What does the NHS, already in total disarray, plan to do to cope with potentially a million pensioners returning from their overseas homes?
Rampant uncontrolled immigration
Britain is not a part of the Schengen (open borders) scheme. It is an island, connected to the European mainland by one three-part tunnel that stretches between Folkestone and Coquelles (basically Dover to Calais).
Why is there an immigration problem? Maybe one should start looking closer to home before blaming Europe. The Leave.EU campaign asks if "control our borders" is something that excites you about voting to leave the EU. Well, I can't see much changing in this respect. EU citizens may lose the right to enter and stay in Britain, but likewise can you imagine British citizens needing to apply for visas to visit France? We'd all be worse off if such a thing should come to pass.
As for the migrants in places such as The Jungle, they are illegal immigrants, not EU citizens. Staying in or leaving the EU will not change their presence, though choosing to leave may cause the other EU countries to consider why they are bothering to do anything about it...
While people often make fun of "human rights", such decisions and rulings are usually made in local courts. A person just does not scream "human rights" and walk to the European Court of Human Rights (and please be aware that the ECHR is not "the EU").
Those who do go to the ECHR tend to be people who are challenging the government. For example, Winter Fuel payments to ex-pat Pensioners who are British citizens, have made the same sorts of NI contributions as everybody else, and - it should be noted - save the government approximately £3 billion per year (The Guardian, 22nd March 2014) in not requiring NHS, garbage collection, or other social services; yet they were not eligible for the yearly £200 (single) / £300 (couple) entitlement. These are the sorts of people the ECHR is supposed to help.
Yes, we all know the story of the hook-handed cleric and his legal representatives using human rights legislation for all sorts of things, but please remember that for every big fiasco there will be many smaller cases that don't get reported, cases where people are unacceptably spied upon at work (crotch heat and motion sensors), discriminated against, or are just normal people like you and I whose details have ended up in - for example - a police computer system and were never deleted in accordance with the laws in force.
Given that one of the main reasons to go to the ECHR (instead of local courts) is when your opposition is the government or a branch of it, the idea of tearing down the whole human rights thing to replace it with a Theresa May approved alternative should worry everybody.
It goes without saying that if you want to sell in a market, you must follow the rules of the countries involved. A Britain outside of the EU will still need to follow EU rules to trade in the bloc. Nobody will care if British rules are better, worse, or different. So the question surely becomes, does Britain want to have a say in what goes on in one of the primary markets? Britain can still make its own laws, although the Leave campaign would like you to think otherwise. Right now the difference is that many of the laws are supposed to be made in tandem with EU directives. The aim is to try to homogenise the laws so that things work in a similar way across the bloc, but that doesn't mean that Britain has renounced sovereignty. If this were the case, what exactly would be the point of Parliament?
The EU is self-serving corruption
The scandals of those in power in the EU should not affect the judgement of the concept of the EU as a whole. Least one decides to judge the entirety of the British public by the cash for influence scandal, the parliamentary expenses scandal, the other cash for influence scandal, cash for access, plebgate, expenses, expenses, more expenses, and something to do with a pig.
Ask yourself why the likes of Mr. Farage is an MEP though he clearly dislikes anything EU related (what with being a leading figure of UKIP). Maybe the ~£79,000 yearly salary plus ~£220 a day "subsistence allowance", plus the ability to claim from the "general expenditure allowance" (to cover costs not covered by other allowances) might have something to do with it? Remind yourself - what's your salary?
The EU is a huge pot into which money is poured
Evidently somebody has to pay all of those MEP expenses... Seriously, though. If you look at it with the view of money paid vs money received, you are using the mentality of a five year old. There are many subtle factors involved in the EU membership that are harder to put a price on. The non-discrimination right where British companies can be considered in tenders, the ability to trade with the European mainland without facing crippling import and export taxes... these are just a couple of the benefits.
A better allocation from the Common Agricultural Policy
I've actually heard people on the radio saying that if Britain leaves the EU, farmers can get a better deal from the CAP. These poor deluded people might want to think long and hard about what the CAP is and where it comes from.
Britain can make its own global trade deals
No. It can't.
Let's face it, who is going to want to openly trade with a country that just turned its back on its closest neighbours? I'm pretty sure America will come to the rescue and offer golden goose eggs in the form of a trans-Atlantic treaty allowing all sorts of lovely things...
...and a desperate government will probably be dumb enough to sign it, even if they did realise that most of the clauses are to the benefit of America. No, nobody is going to be altruistic and give Britain a chance after their xenophobia causes the country to cut ties with their logical neighbours.
The whole trade deals thing is a compromise. Each country wants and the agreements attempt to balance these wants into something that everybody accepts. In the EU, outside of the EU. It's the same. The only difference is whether the country wanting is in a strong position or a weak one. Where do you think an "independent Britain" would be?
Life is not perfect within the EU. But life within the EU is surely a more logical outcome than deciding to manage an uncertain future alone.
If you want any ideas as to how good the government is at managing things - look at the immigration failures (the government currently wishing to cut back border patrol funding, what?), the policing failures, the NHS failure-in-progress, and the privatisation of everything in sight in order to raise money. Oh, and with a few exceptions, you'll likely find it's those horrible foreigners that own so much of the country's infrastructure. Hinkley Point and the EDF? Which government just threw a big wodge of cash at the non-British company to keep going with the project? Yeah - it wasn't the British government.
Please be sensible on June 23rd and even if you aren't convinced by the benefits of the EU, the status quo should surely make more sense than the alternative.
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|David Pilling, 29th March 2016, 02:40
"opt-out to give the government the ability to decline legislation that they do not believe is in the national interest"
They can't. Some members of the Conservative party wanted David Cameron to negotiate that, but he did not. What sort of club would let anyone only obey the rules they liked.
UK has some opt outs - negotiated - but so do other EU members.
"the ability to trade with the European mainland without facing crippling import and export taxes"
UK buys a lot more from EU than the other way around, plus world trade rules, there would be a deal.
"The Jungle, they are illegal immigrants"
If so why do the French not arrest them.
|Rick, 29th March 2016, 22:24
#1: The UK already has a right to decline legislation that would risk being in conflict with "Justice and home affairs" (the so-called Title V). There is, of course, a conflict between what the EU considers to be JHA legislation and what Theresa May considers to be JHA legislation, and she has suggested that the EU is "gaming" the legislation. However, it is worth noting that a Lords review in March 2015 did not agree with Mrs. May's interpretation.
#2: There are currently few barriers to trade to and from the EU because the UK is a part of the EU single market; plus the UK is able to participate with the negotiation process.
Have you ever ordered something from the US, and had the carrier make you hand them a cheque to cover import duty? That could become the reality of purchasing from Europe if the UK leaves the EU. Yes, there are world trade rules and the EU won't be able to specifically punish the UK on either imports or exports. However it could quite easily apply all of the processes that are normal for US/Asia trade, including import and export duty, full customs checks (which could tie palettes of deliveries up for anything from days to weeks), and so on. That is what happens outside of the EU free trade area. That is normal.
#3: I don't know why, but I would imagine they don't want to arrest them as that would mean doing something with them. Imprisonment? Sending back home? Given the numbers, that could work out pretty expensive, not to mention risking violent confrontations.
The problem, as I see it, is there are quite a number of deluded economic migrants that seem to think that if they make it to the UK, they will be *given* a home, money, various benefits, and maybe even a job. It ought to be the job of the UK to either sort out its lackadaisical social security system (if that really does happen) or try harder to dispel such myths. You'll notice many of the immigrants don't want to stay in France, Italy, Greece... They want to be in Germany or the UK. Because they think they get given stuff there...
|Malcolm, 22nd April 2016, 21:12
I'd vaguely agree with most of your comments, but
the proposal isn't about leaving Europe, it's about leaving the EU.
The French may see it as the same, but they like to think they run the EU - which is possibly half of the problem.
Whether they do or not is irrelevant, as it's perception that counts unfortunately
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