My thoughts on BrexitIt’s rather ironic that my case for Brexit is being written in Luxembourg, one of the spiritual homes of the EU alongside Brussels and Strasbourg; and despite the best efforts of the local breweries, the charming residents and indeed my love of European culture, I’m still firmly of the view that Britain should leave the EU.
There has been much scaremongering from both camps in the debate so far, mixed with a not insignificant level of sneering and sniping. Migration has been touted as the main driver for Brexit, Remain have announced an impending economic apocalypse if we go down that route, and the end result has been two warring factions with no clear message and facts.
This mud slinging has left supporters of both sides complaining that the other side has no verifiable facts. The perhaps unsurprising fact is that both sides are correct! No-one, either within Vote Leave or Remain, knows with any level of certainty what can or will happen in the event of Brexit. Sure, there have been projections prepared by some very intelligent people. I’ve been around the block in the business world, advising thousands of small businesses, and I know from first hand experience how easy it is to become a “spreadsheet millionaire” by adding a few zeros here and there. The reality of forecasting is that it is at best an educated guess of the unknown, and will always be influenced by the bias of the preparer and the data sources.
So now that we know that when it comes to stating facts, projections without a crystal ball are not worth the paper they are written on, what facts can we rely on? Unfortunately,not many. We can’t even rely on the deals that Norway or Canada have with the EU. Ed Miliband, on BBC Question Time, repeatedly harangued the panel about their lack of another model to replicate in the event of Brexit. The simple fact is that the United Kingdom is different from Norway, and Canada, and every other trading partner of the EU. Every single country in the world is different! No two countries have identical population levels, demographics, GDP. So each country has to negotiate based on their own strengths and weaknesses.
For the UK, the situation economically is fairly simple. We are in a trade deficit with Europe. In layman terms, this means that we buy more stuff from them than they sell to us. If they choose to play hardball with us, the punitive outcome would place more of a burden on the public in the EU states than the UK. They will still want to sell us French food, Italian clothes and German cars. And if the unelected powers that be decide to make an example of the UK, I have every confidence that the European public will vote with their feet in similar referendums to that which we are facing. The net affect of this, in my opinion, is that the economic impact will be relatively minor long term, either way.
Yes, there is uncertainty on Brexit. There may be more red-tape in intra-EU trade. But as it stands at the moment, UK businesses trade with China, with Australia, with countless countries that also happen to be outside the EU.
There has been suggestion that Brexit could affect Britain’s place at the world table. I contend that actually, continued membership of the EU is a greater risk. At the moment, the G7 group consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and us. The EU are also represented within the G7. How much longer will the EU, and indeed the non-EU members, tolerate this given the EU’s intention of a greater political union? Would we accept both the US and California, New York, Washington DC and Texas each having a voice at the G7?
Migration is another key issue that voters will want assurance on. Let me be absolutely clear on my position on this. Within the EU, we are unable to help those in need as much as we’d want to, because of our obligation to accept a net migration into the UK due to the free movement of people. It is not racist to want to help those in need rather than those entitled, based on having an EU passport. In fact, I’d suggest quite the opposite: we are forced to prefer one group of migrants to the detriment of those who might really need our support. We should be able to choose to allow the Syrian refugee, the Indian doctor, and the French coder to come here based on skills and need.
Supporters of Remain also tend to suggest that a vote to leave the EU is a vote to scrap some simple human rights. Let me be clear on my position here. Most EU legislation is actually pretty good. It’s not all about bendy bananas. Not many people can complain about the need for Health and Safety legislation, nor the need for Data Protection and the Working Time Directive. The challenges for many small businesses come with the often heavy-handed burden of implementation. We must also remember that upon Brexit, these laws won’t automatically be struck off the record, as some mistakenly believe. Instead, they would need to be actively amended, which would require sufficient debate in Parliament, by a bunch of MP’s elected by you. If you don’t like the decisions that they make, you can vote for another candidate.
This concept of democracy is really the underlying reason for my choice to vote Leave. I’m a strong believer in an elected Government, and the need for at least two strong parties to challenge each other and maintain a relatively central position for the public. We’ve heard enough about the unelected powers that be in the EU, and I cannot advocate membership of what effectively amounts to a dictatorship. Yes, we elect our MEP’s and decision makers to a point; but they are hamstrung by the structures above them.
Europe as a concept has been built in a poor manner. The EU have tried to merge two Europes into one political organisation. If we were to have a harmonised economy, an elected government, a unified currency, consistent legislation, a strong EU-wide border, and act as one country; I would perhaps ironically be more inclined to vote Remain. The US is a perfect model of this in action. As it stands however, the EU is just a mishmash of poorly implemented legislation, inconsistent economies, and fundamentally incompatible states. Let me make it clear - I love Europe. Based on the great treatment I’ve had here in Luxembourg, I also love the Europeans. But I cannot tolerate an such an undemocratic, badly designed halfway house. And on that basis, I’m out.