Later this week, the EU referendum will take place. Safe to say I’m strongly in the ‘remain’ camp, not because I’m actively an EU fan (I’m not) but because as someone who focuses on evidence-based policies, and deals with things based on facts and data. In this, the ‘Leave the EU’ campaigns (‘Brexit’ or ‘Brexitor’) have done absolutely nothing to endear themselves to me, swaddling themselves in lies, deception and emotional manipulation to try and get their way.
For many, the reason is obvious – they want to be a big fish in a smaller pool, rather than the tiddler in an ocean they would otherwise be. Anthony Hilton talked to media baron Rupert Murdoch about the EU years ago and said this
“I once asked Rupert Murdoch why he was so opposed to the European Union. ‘That’s easy,’ he replied. ‘When I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice.‘”
If you think that’s an exaggeration, you need only remember that one of his closest lieutenants (Rebekah Brooks) was (and almost certainly still is) good, close friends with Prime Minister David Cameron, and her long-time lover (Andy Coulson) was Cameron’s communications director until his arrest in relation to the phone-hacking done under Brook’s tenure at Murdoch papers (during which, former Prime Minister Tony Blair offered to act as an unofficial advisor). She’s now the head of News UK (Murdoch’s UK newspaper arm.
So that kind of skew to manipulate the news based on a political agenda is nothing new to his newspapers. But it underscores the desire to lie and deceive. For others, like Boris, it’s a chance to move up the ranks some more. Boris was a political nobody 15 years ago, catapaulted into the limelight following a TV appearance or two where his clownish clueless demeanor made him the subject of light ridicule. Then there was a competent stint as London Mayor, and so now he’s challenging for the leadership, trying to appeal to people the same way Trump has in the US, with The Big Lie. Here it’s the £350M/week, which is complete nonsense but it’s repeated as if it’s the truth.
The big issue is one of economics though. The EU is primarily an economic treaty, a common market, standards body and free movement zone. Goods, services, labour can move freely around inside it, free of tariffs, duties, etc. As if it were one country. In many ways it’s analogous to the United States of America, where there are no interstate barriers to commerce, meaning that it’s easy for me in Georgia to drive to Florida and buy a car (did that 11 years ago, with a friend who wanted a 63 Ford Galaxie) without tedious paperwork. It meant I could go to Alabama and buy fireworks (done that too) or North Carolina and buy Lexan. Each time, no issues, no problems and I could move freely from member state to member state. The EU is essentially the same.
So why do people want to leave?
The truth is that there isn’t any really good reason anyone wants to leave – not good for the general citizens anyway. Take the £350M/week claim (that again, isn’t actually true) about fees to the EU. If we leave, that doesn’t have to be paid, true. However, in exchange for that fee, we also don’t get the access to the EU markets that we get for paying. Considering the true value (after rebates and grants back into the UK) is about £163M/week (or about 0.4% of UK’s GDP), which begs the question, does the EU provide more than 0.4% of the UK’s GDP?
Let’s face it, it’s a bit of a stupid question really. Does trade and economic deals with what is an economic block that (including the UK) is either first or second (depending on whose figures you use) in the world, provide more than 0.4% of the UK’s GDP. If the UK leaves the EU, will the GDP drop by more or less than 0.4%? Yes, I’m pretty sure it’s going to drop.
Of course, this won’t matter to many, such as Liberal Party leader Steve Radford. Now, I’ve known Steve most of my life, I grew up two streets away, he and my father were friends, and I’ve always tried to apply his philosophy of community involvement into my political work, so much so that it became a cliche at Pirate Party UK for a candidate to have lots of photos standing next to big potholes, derelict buildings, etc. (and I was lucky to have then-leader Loz Kaye right there on the same page).
Steve Radford is well known in the area of Liverpool I grew up in, for his community-focused ideals, and is so popular that his council district in Liverpool is known as “Fortress Liverpool” because he gets such high voting percentages (70%+ usually) thanks to his work in the area. He’s also been the Liberal Party (that’s the group left when most joined the Social Democrats Party in 1988 to become the Lib-Dems) leader for a number of years, and so has had to weigh in on the EU debate.
Alas, he’s strongly and vehemently in the ‘leave’ camp, and no facts will change him. Here’s a typical post on the subject.
There’s just one problem with this post. If you open it and look at it, you’ll see that while Cllr. Radford posted it on June 19th 2016, the article was written on September 15, 2015
Yes, the article is 9 months old. Oops. Relying on a 9 month old article for claims isn’t the best way to get your message across.
Of cours,e if that’s all that’s been said by them then it’s weak but ok, so I wonder if there’s been anything more recent from Vauxhall, or their parent company GM? Why yes there has.
In fact just THREE DAYS earlier, the Liverpool regional paper ran a major story saying that GM would be rethinking its position in the UK if there’s a vote to leave. Given that Cllr Radford is indeed a city councillor (and so wouldn’t deprive himself of the vital information provided by the city’s well respected news organ, he MUST have seen this article before he posted his 9 month old link.
What makes this even more ironic, is that the Telegraph article accuses the remain camp of scaremongering when the reality is that the accusations of scaremongering were based on what turned out to be lies. You can’t say ‘you’re making stuff’up, because its not a problem’, when your justification turns out to be false.
Then of course, there’s the problem that even last year’s Telegraph article didn’t say there’d be no problems, and no loss, it said that the Vauxhall boss said he’s sure there’d be new trade deals. What was omitted was that they’re unlikely to be as good – why would they, the UK has the far weaker position, negotiating with the people it’s just alienated, and despite being the 5th largest economy in the world, the EU contains the 4th biggest (Germany) and 6th biggest (France) as well as a number of other countries totalling about seven times greater GDP.
The UK needs the EU far more than the EU needs the UK.
Nor would these negotiations be quick. The Lisbon treaty was the last major treaty change by the EU, and it took a while. It was initiated in 2001, the final text was agreed on in June 2004, was signed in Rome October 29th 2004, and then only had to be ratified by the member countries to come into force. France and the Netherlands rejected it. Oops. Back to the drawing board (because in such a trade deal or treaty, it not only has to be ratified by the EU, but by each of its member states in a matter of their choosing too. That’s a lot more of a democratic input than you get in the UK. So in June 2007 they started again, and the treaty was signed in December of that year, with Hungary ratifying it that month. The last country, however, was Ireland, who didn’t ratify it until October 2009. The process took 8 years.
It’s not alone either. ACTA was first started in 2006, and by 2012 was still trying to get through the EU parliament. Thanks to the actions of the Green/EFA group (which includes both Pirate Party MEPs – in fact Amelia’s report to the ITRE committee was the first to recommend rejecting it, which the committee followed) it was rejected by a vote of 478 to 39. Six years, and nothing.
how about something smaller then, a trade agreement between the EU and ONE country, the US. Here both are equals in economy, roughly, and it’s one country dealing with the EU. Yes, it’s the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). It was started in February 2013, after years (decades) of prep work. So again, a similar situation to the one the UK would be in with any EU trade deal. Except it’s now 3½ years on, and soon the 13th round of negotiations on the text will happen. Some areas are still at the proposal stage, meaning that there’s at least another year, maybe two of text negotiation to go. Then, when it can actually be read by MEP’s (since only certain ones can, under EXTREMELY strict restrictions) it’ll have a few months of committees and votes, and then there’ll be a 2 year (typically) wait for national ratification. 6 years, maybe 7, assuming every country approves and the European Parliament votes for it.
So to be frank, the idea that “we’ll just get some trade agreements made” is ludicrous and ignores the modern reality of treaty negotiation with the EU. All else being equal, you’re looking at 6-7 years, assuming nothing goes wrong and no member state throws a spanner in the works. And how many major companies, like GM and their Vauxhall subsidiary, are they going to endure even 5 years of increased costs to 24 countries in the hope that they’ll get AT BEST a deal that ends up giving what they had before. Or do they move and accept increased costs to just one country and keep the benefits they’ve had?
It’s a no-brainer really.
And that’s what the EU vote comes down to. Economically, leaving will destroy the UK economy, all for alleged ‘benefits’ that don’t actually exist, and mitigating factors that sound good in soundbytes, but which make no sense when you look into them.
Those championing for a ‘brexit’ are doing so either to gain political popularity via the Big Lie, or because they really do believe the lies and don’t actually know the truth.
Either way, it’s a sad demonstration that while a person might be smart, people as a whole are stupid, panicky creatures, and “Brexit” absolutely reeks of desperation, and political chicanery. Because you can bet that if Brexit goes through, those who hve been calling for it will never be able to deliver on their promises – they can’t, they’re fantasy – but at that point it’ll be time for the next Big Lie, the next scapegoat, and the grand political game of pass-the-political-[blame-]parcel.