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18 days to go...

June 4, 2016

18 days to go until the Referendum and where are we now?

90% of economists and just about everyone with any expertise in the world of economics and finance has told us we're #StrongerIn and that a Brexit would severely damage the UK economy. But the Brexit cheerleaders do not want to hear. Farage says that £45 billion is a price worth paying. He says this with all the confidence of a seedy estate agent flogging a house that hasn't yet been built. Gove says he's had enough of experts. In his last incarnation, the experts had had enough of him. So he was moved from Education to Justice where he has demonstrated manifold skills in injustice. Boris continues to bumble round Britain belching baloney and diesel fumes. His German bus is still sign-written with the NHS logo and the claim that the UK sends £350 million to the EU every week. The BFG (Boris-Farage-Gove) and their cronies repeat the £350 million lie at every opportunity; apparently incapable of understanding the simple mathematics of the UK's EU contribution. 

The BFG persist in their claim that we can have Trade Deals with whomsoever we wish post-Brexit. The heads of state of all of these countries have told them that either we can't or we can't for a very long time. Furthermore, all of Britain's friends have implored us to stay in the EU. But with deaf ears & blind eyes the BFG blunder onwards brandishing fantastically generous offers of funding to the NHS, the farmers and everyone under the cool summer sun.  To date they have reallocated the EU funds many times over BUT none of it has been allocated to the making of new Trade Deals. Nor has any money been allocated to the complicated legal process that will follow from a Brexit. Nor to the making and amending of  laws to replace those detested ones that are currently on the statute book due to the EU. 

'We want to Take Back Control' is the mantra of the BFG morning, noon and night. What exactly is it that is Out of Control? Sovereignty appears to be the main offender. That's been commuted to the EU. Well, some of it has. We're members of a club and we agree to the club rules. We do this because the club works to our benefit, and in the areas of trade and travel we benefit enormously. We have gained more freedom than we've sacrificed. And we have a veto on issues of paramount importance.

Of sovereignty, Thomas Hobbes said: "The obligation of subjects to the sovereign is understood to last as long, and no longer, than the power lasteth by which he is able to protect them." Largely due to the EU combined with NATO we've enjoyed many decades of peace in Europe. I have serious doubts about the endurance of peace in Europe if we depart the EU. Poland is building a Home Guard of 35,000 and NATO is establishing military bases there. This is in response to the threat from Russia. Nationalism is on the rise across Europe and far beyond. There have been few instances since the French Revolution when extreme nationalistic politics have resulted in neither tyranny nor war. Narrow, nationalistic sovereignty looks increasingly like a devil in disguise and can do little to protect us. 

The other area in which the BFG are insistent that we need to take back control is immigration. Their current fad is for an Australian style points system. However, the media have pointed out that the Australian system has resulted in higher immigration into Australia than the UK has under its own current system. There's also a serious ethical problem with such a system: if we cherry pick the medics and engineers and so on from countries less well off than ourselves, who is going to look after the people left behind in those countries? Nothing could be more wrong than for us to poach their professionals.

Immigration is not and cannot be easily controlled. It comes with big advantages, not least of which is a constant supply of labour that we desperately need. So long as people have transport they will find a way of moving from one place to another. The smartphone and the internet have combined to open the window on the world to the whole world and the world wants to move to where the good life is. Nothing and no one can stop that process. It's an unintended consequence of globalisation and technology.

Our choices are limited. Either we can bark nostalgic mantras about the greatness of some unidentified point in the past and attempt to hole up on an isolated sandcastle that destiny will dissolve into the North Sea. Or we can accept the world we live in and make the most of it by collaborating and compromising with our willing and friendly neighbours. 

 

 

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