Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Why I decided I hope the UK leaves the EU


I have always been certain that my country would vote to stay in the EU even as I become more and more persuaded that, on balance, we should leave. But now, suddenly, hope has crept by inches into my heart.

I decided after much thought that I would vote Out had I a vote. But I have been abroad too long. Why? Because the EU will always be undemocratic. Because you cannot have a democracy without a demos.  

Our economic future might eventually be better outside the EU, but no-one knows and people who say they know are deluded or deluding. What matters is that I do not see any reason why laws should be made by unelected foreigners that we in the United Kingdom have to obey. 

There's no right or wrong decision on Brexit - it depends on your values. Do we prefer to be free or want kind masters? I think the English will prefer kind masters. They will vote to stay in, for fear that there would be fewer laws if we leave. But maybe I'm wrong.

One thing that has helped me make up by mind about Brexit is that I find I tend to like the way Brexiters think about things in general, like their sense of humour - and find the
In camp - whatever party they vote for - tend to have ideas I find uncongenial. If H.M. the Queen, supposedly, the Duke of Edinburgh more certainly, Rod Liddle, Nigel Lawson, Ed West, Charles Moore and Douglas Murray are for Brexit and John Major, the Economist and the US State Department are against that's almost good enough for me. Throw in the ghosts of Peter Shore, Anthony Burgess, Enoch Powell...

There are plenty of good arguments on both sides. The strongest for staying in are the impact on the City of London as financial capital of Europe and the effect on Scotland, which might in the medium term be more likely to secede from the UK. That won't happen soon because they cannot have another referendum for twenty years and anyway with oil cheap independence would be suicidal.

The City is a worry, but Mervyn King thinks Brexit will make little difference. Scotland is the strongest argument for In. But I am hopeful they would not leave us to join the Eurozone, which is what the EU requires 
new members to do.

The best argument for leaving is that we shall regret it if we don’t. Forever.

I've noticed from my British Facebook friends that Inners and Outers behave very differently. The Outers know the odds are stacked against them but argue their points with gusto. The Inners seem to be in actual physical pain at the fairly small chance that we might leave. They are at best horrified, at worst embittered and full of malice, always completely humourless. Why?

If Brexit wins - which is still a very unlikely contingency - the Remainians will probably renegotiate with Ma Merkel and have a second referendum. But looking at the issue of EU membership in hindsight it is clear that it was, as Gaitskell said all those years ago, the end of a thousand years of history. And the end too of national sovereignty and representative government.


  1. You are very far removed from England today. As are your mythical friends.

    1. Yes I am - my Facebook friends though live in Britain - must probably do much of their living virtually on Facebook.

  2. I read a disturbing sentence, by Daniel Hannan, in the Spectator today. From his article "The six best reasons to vote leave". Quote, "The EU, in short, is responding to the euro and migration crises in the way it responds to everything: with deeper integration." This brought to mind to the controversy over the Cecil Rhodes statue at Oxford, and in the United States, the removal of Andrew Jackson's picture on the U.S. twenty dollar bill. If this doctrine of accommodation and inoffensiveness — to facilitate greater cultural integration and homogeneity within the expanding EU borders — be allowed to continue, would it not someday require the dismantling of cultural hallmarks to spare offending someone? Castles, cathedrals, musical compositions, works of art, books, historic battlefields, etc. could impede this pursuit of sameness and the oatmeal-ization of Europe. Will anything remain in the new of the old, beyond left-wing political doctrine?

  3. Yes.

    But again, I am Romanian, so I wish to belong wherever Britain does... If Brexit, Paul, perhaps you could float the idea of RO getting into the Commonwealth - you do know the right ways for these things


    Btw. Great argument about Scotland ! Haven't read anything about Brexit except the polls, so I can credit you with it.

    1. That Scotland may choose EU over UK, rather than independence

    2. That is the key reason for voting Remain and I don't claim the idea is mine.

  4. If only the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand had formed a federation as Joe Chamberlain wanted. But South Africa (and Rhodesia?)would have been part of it and that would have meant trouble.

  5. I honestly do not believe contemporary England belongs to Europe in many ways. I hope they leave (and suffer the consequences). I do not think Europe will regret them for more than a few months, the time to restabilize financial markets! Germany and France stand to gain big time after that!

    That said by a Greek who believes that Greece does not belong to Europe either, but some good God up there has kept us in despite ourselves!

  6. Rhodesia was the victim of bad press. It had a property, not a race qualification for the franchise and the nationalist movements were communist or maoist, so we got all the Cold War distortion.

  7. I fell into a conversation with a (Czech) woman in a bar in the suburbs of Prague almost exactly a year ago saying it was inconceivable that Britain would vote to leave (now it seems merely improbable), and that I couldn't see any reason to. However, since then, the EU's disgraceful failure to handle the migrant crisis in any remotely sensible or humane way, and the continuing pauperisation of Greece (and increasingly the rest of southern Europe) has brought to mind other failures and injustices of the EU's operations - specifically since the Euro was introduced, along with the associated Stability and Growth Pact. All along, whereas small countries (such as brave and plucky LIthuania) are held to follow such rules to the letter, and punished if they don't, France and Germany do whatever they like.....and never more than now. Is my (well-informed) response affected by a working-class upbringing and ethnic outsider (Ulster Catholic) origins, both which instill a certain distrust of powerful officials, be they in London (or Belfast) or Brussels? I still don't know, but I am absolutely certain, as I was not a year ago in Prague, that the EU as it currently is must not be allowed to endure.

  8. I think WOLFGANG Scheuble as well as Michel Sapin were pretty clear: the UK cannot benefit from the free trade agreements without the obligations that go with them. In other words the Brits cannot have their pie and eat it.

    There was a great article on either Bloomberg or the FT, on how BORIS Johnson and the people around him behave exactly like Tsipras and Varoufakis. All the Greeks are now paying the bill for their disastrous policy choices, which could have been worse (Grexit).
    You would of course put the FT and Bloomberg in the same category as the EIU, the US state department and John Major:boring entities.

    When deciding about the economic shape of our lives I do not think we rely on entertaining people.

    In Greece we had (and still have) this very popular and populist stand-up comedy show on TV preaching the wonders of getting rid of austerity and the Germans very much in line with the then Tsipras/Syriza rhetoric.

    We can all now feel the results. Syriza will enjoy the spoils of power for another four years (although they now poll 15%) and we all pay the bill.

    Could BORIS Johnson be thinking likewise?
    Populism is unfortunately a pervasive phenomenon across the west these days, US included!

  9. David in Banja Luka10 June 2016 at 17:25

    The Beast of Bolsover backs Brexit :)

  10. I believed in the irreversibility of such commitments, or I am too naive. That’s why to me an exit is not an appropriate question in the first place, and so in any case it should not be an unilateral option. Because from the very beginning, once in, it is not about individual interests, it is about the common interest. This was the question and the choice when entering EU, and it is not a good idea I think to check it up from time to time. All countries have been asked to do a lot in this direction of common interests, and we all have complied. It was not always cheap, easy, directly beneficial or in national interest. But the UE (common) interest prevailed and this was and should remain the rule. In other words, once deciding to be in the union “we” should replace “me”. In a kid game might be acceptable to exit whenever get upset, or feel unfairly treated or frustrated. This can’t be an acceptable practice for EU members because it is a whole concept at stake. EU membership should not be a vehicle that temporarily takes individual interests from one point to another. It is a major common construction that reshapes and affects the whole continent. Or it is not? There it is not only Britain interest at stake anymore. It is about us all, us the Europeans. That’s why if to decide about an exit it cannot be a British referendum anymore. It should be an EU referendum. Because it affects us all. (though probably a referendum is not at all the right tool in the first place. A referendum has to do too much with emotions. A political decision instead is the way ahead, taken by decision makers who should assume this tremendous responsibility.) To conclude, I believe we should avoid raising this exit question anymore because it jeopardizes for the future the whole efforts so far. And it has been expensed and sacrificed a lot meanwhile, by all members at different moments in time. Nevertheless although Britain will anyway be home in Europe it should continue on its own will.
    PS: what we would do if one day Germany and France will declare their interests are better off if they leave EU too and/or US, France, Germany would decide to leave NATO ?

  11. Just read a good one yesterday: that "unity is always a goal, not a starting point" - the mantra underpins the workings of an organization roughly 1000 years old & larger than the EU throughout that history. I wish Europe the same.