The EU referendum

It won’t have escaped anyone’s notice that in three months or so we have the right to vote on whether or not the UK should leave the EU.  (If the vote is LEAVE, it may well be England that leaves, as Scotland at least seems a lot more pro-European, but let’s leave that for now.)

Well, of course it’s a privilege, historically speaking, to have a vote, and to be consulted by our rulers as to where we should sit in the world, and whom we should ally with.  Let’s at least agree that everybody should vote.

Most of the arguments seem to focus on the economic pros and cons (and uncertainties) of the decision.  About this I will just say – of course no one knows what leaving the EU would mean for our economy, and of course it would mean uncertainty, and it is not very plorable* for the LEAVE campaign to denounce as a “scaremonger” anyone who points this out.  John Major said that trying to negotiate a new deal with people you have just kicked in the teeth may not be easy.  Other people say that the EU need to trade with us, so of course there would be a pragmatic deal to be done.  One possible point is to wonder how much democratic input and public scrutiny there would be of such a deal; whether we would be told more or less than we currently are when They renegotiate things.

Who knows?

I will be voting STAY, for the following largely UNeconomic reasons, worst first:

  • Loyalty. Some may call this conservatism.  In my gut I tend to feel duty and affection for what I’m used to.  I rarely change shopping habits; I’ve read the same newspaper forever; I find it difficult to imagine changing church as long as we live here.  Just as I would like Scotland to stick to the long-established partnership of the UK, so I would like the UK to stick to the long-established partnership of the EU, where we have friends.
  • Doing things together is a good idea. For some things, small is beautiful.  But for dealing with world issues in the current issue of multinational companies, the internet and borderless terrorism, it seems pretty obvious that we (humanity) should work together as much as possible.  Of course the EU is a deeply flawed institution, and so is the UN.  They are formed of very sinful people from very different countries, all with their vastly different agendas and histories, trying to make rules and policies that all can agree with.  (When you consider that the UN Security Council includes the governments of the US, China and Russia, it’s frankly astonishing that it achieves anything at all.)  But do we really think that Britain is morally entitled or practically benefited by pretending that Syrian refugees and Russia’s annexation of the Crimea aren’t issues that wouldn’t benefit from some collective thinking?  A vote to leave would send a powerful message round the world – that people cannot work together, that it’s every nation for itself, that federations always fall apart.
  • “Each of you should consider not only your own interests but also those of others.” If we vote to leave the EU, this will affect the French, the Greeks, the Poles, etc etc.  Would they be benefited?  If not, isn’t this something that should affect how we vote? Britain is a (fairly) stable democratic wealthy nation which has masses to contribute to the good of Europe, and to a European voice in the world.
  • We don’t have time for this. Brexit would lead to enormous amounts of money, time, emotional energy and administration being spent unravelling treaties and building new ones.  In the meantime, IS keeps beheading, the oceans keep rising, rates of homelessness, mental illness and dementia continue to increase.  I want my government to be doing sensible urgent things.

So those are my reasons, with which you may well disagree.  (But we stay friends, because we’re civilised.)

(One more highly obscure point, which will influence no one at all.  The concept of “British sovereignty” is often used as an argument to leave.  “The UK Parliament should have the final say, and be able to do whatever it likes.  Therefore treaties subordinating our legislators to Brussels are unBritish.”

This is a traditionally English view.  I was privileged to study Scots law in the 1980s, and I well remember the seminar on whether the Treaty of Union of 1707 was fundamental law.  That treaty abolished the separate parliaments of England and Scotland, and created a new body (admittedly looking very like the old English House of Commons and House of Lords), which was already not entitled to do anything it liked, because it could not destroy essential Scottish institutions such as the Scots legal system and the Church of Scotland.   I don’t know if the modern SNP would accept that the Treaty of Union is fundamental law, but it certainly predates the Treaty of Rome.)

Love from the PPI Blogger

*PS.  I know that “plorable”, the opposite of “deplorable”, is not a word.  But shouldn’t it be?  Similarly, don’t we really need the word “pointful”, as an opposite of “pointless”?

  • Clint Redwood

    5th April 2016 at 6:34 pm Reply

    I read a lovely comment from someone on Twitter that if you take the sovereignty argument to its logical conclusion, given that every multilateral agreement or treaty reduces sovereignty, the most sovereign state in the world is North Korea.

    • Denver

      9th January 2017 at 12:33 am Reply

      Touwodhcn! That’s a really cool way of putting it!

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