Monday, 25 April 2016

Brexit - Why I'm Voting Leave

Putting myself in the same group as Nigel Farage, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson isn't something to do lightly. I liken it to the Allies joining with Russia in World War II. Yes, despicable as the company may be, the common alternative is not acceptable to me. I don't do it with glee. I do it having considered the facts, trying to scrape off the hyperbole and cutting to what matters. Having done that to the best of my ability, I have concluded that I will vote for the UK to leave the European Union.

I am not interested in the statements made by either campaign. Remain and Leave have both assumed that their job is to become the most impressive Project Fear outfit. They have indulged in a heavy amount of guesswork and thick slices of scaremongering. That, sadly, is the nature of politics. It is an incredibly emotive topic and thus the name calling and mudslinging is in full flow. Hell, I started this article effectively the same way but those three men won't care because they have my vote. Not by anything they have done, mind you.

To see how Europe works for and against people in this country, you only need to contemplate the contrasting fortunes of two cities in the north of England; Liverpool and Hull.

Liverpool was made European Capital of Culture in 2008 (a title that will belong to Hull in 2017) and, since then, the city has blossomed from the investment that has come its way. Liverpool, for all the tired stereotypical gags, is a vibrant city with plenty going for it. Any Liverpudlian who says staying in Europe is a bad idea would struggle to argue their case to their fellow citizens.

Hull, however, has seen Europe decimate its standing. Built on the fishing industry, the regulations that came in from Europe regarding fishing have left the city economically on its knees. I always find it intriguing that when Thatcher and her Tory government shut coal mines down, despite them being completely non-viable in financial terms, they were castigated all the way to her grave and beyond. Europe destroys Hull's industry and... nothing. Brussels rolled along. No pickets or real protests of note. We rolled over for that one. Either that or we just don't like Hull.

These two cities demonstrate that the European Union can be good and bad for us as a nation. I'm not attaching myself to the people of Hull over Liverpool. Not at all. I'm an egalitarian, in the sense that I dislike everyone equally. There are a few reasons, however, why I have come to my conclusion and they seem to be issues the media are not discussing.

Greece is the first reason. No, not because I don't want us to pick up the bill for a country that had no concept of how to tax and spend properly. That is their problem but they wouldn't be the first to do that and we, the UK, would be hypocritical to point that finger. It is something else. There are a deeply unsettling series of events that happened in the build up to Greece accepting the austerity measures it has now imposed.

The European Union had tried to get Greece to impose austerity measures, which were so extreme that it was a near privatisation of the Greek nation, with the EU being the private equity firm purchasing it. The IMF then colluded with the EU to enforce these measures. This was in spite of the democratic wishes of the Greek people who demanded that excessive austerity ended.

Whether austerity measures should have been implemented or not is irrelevant. The fact that the EU commands such sway that it can comfortably crush the will of a nation is not something I wish to be part of; namely a bully super state. Membership, especially once in the Eurozone, is so treasured that Greece was willing to risk anarchy to cling onto it. The reality is the best option for Greece would have been bankruptcy. As ugly as it sounds, it would have been a few years of pain but it would have allowed the Greeks to rebuild. Instead, they have been forced to their knees and made to crawl. If you honestly think this is the last time the European Union will do this, you're wrong. They tried it and it succeeded. They've done it before, they'll do it again.

The IMF is just one example of how the EU could put us in positions we don't want to be in. Barack Obama visited the UK in April and seemed to jump on the Remain bandwagon immediately. Some might say that Obama has nothing invested in how the UK votes. After all, what difference does it make to the USA what the UK does?

The answer can be summed up in four letters: TTIP.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is another article within itself. The short hand is it tries to equalise the differences in trading and business regulations between the EU and the US. The thing is that it is heavily slanted towards the US culture. Profit first. Less regulation. Dollars before democracy. While we share many things with our American partners, there is plenty we disagree on.

The TTIP is something that will be imposed upon member states. Why would the US be okay with the UK, the 5th biggest economy in the world, wriggling out of that imposition? Obama, for all his eloquent oration, is fundamentally a politician who represents the interests of his nation. I don't blame him for being skilful with his words. I just don't trust them either. And I certainly don't trust the EU with ensuring that the terms of the TTIP will be fair to all member states, nor match the philosophy we have in the UK.

Next up is the increasing stupidity and imperialistic attitude of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). There are some truths that have been dissolved by this institution because they don't match their ideology. Women have been proven, by empirical data, to be safer drivers than men. Despite the misogynistic remarks that state the stereotypical and inaccurate opposite, it is a fact but the ECJ ruled that insurance companies cannot offer cheaper car insurance to women based solely on their gender. That is idiotic. And if you really are a sexist man and believe it is unfair, what if the data in a decade swings the other way and shows men to be safer drivers? Then you would want it to play in your favour. It is an enforcement of rights that are backed by nothing but a PR image.

How about this truth? When you are a prisoner, you have lost your entitlement to some rights. The right to freedom, for example. The ECJ, however, says that prisoners have not lost the right to vote. That's right, the people who broke the law get to have a say in who should make law. It is akin to allowing a paedophile to have a say in the hiring policy of a school. It is utterly moronic but the ECJ has spoken.

To make things worse, the ECJ rulings circumvent the UK's veto. While we think we can stop EU laws we disapprove of, once the ECJ has set a precedent supporting it, the law has to be enforced. It is a massive, immovable loophole in our legal system that we cannot stop. 

To make things worse, not a single member of the ECJ is elected. They are appointed by member states. So if the majority of the EU is swaying one way and we want to go another, they can drag us back with the mighty ECJ. Put this into perspective, you have to kill four people before an unelected party becomes the President of the United States, someone who can shift the entire legal direction of that nation. This has never happened. In the EU, they install unelected officials who can determine the legal direction of multiple nations every 6 years.

There are other examples I can give. In this country, there has been a movement to demand that VAT be removed from tampons. The Government were mocked for reducing it to 5% and offering that money to women's charities. The problem is the Government can't take the VAT off them because the EU marked them as a luxury item. Therefore, a minimum VAT must exist on them in accordance with EU law.

Farmers are instructed to restrict the amount of goods they produce to maintain a false market in the food industry. Fishing, as the people of Hull know, has gone through similar restrictions.

Immigration is a double standard. Someone from the EU can walk in but someone from, say, Canada needs to be earning above a certain amount or be sponsored. While some will say that light immigration controls are a good thing, I would respectfully disagree. I have seen the tensions of societies when multiple cultures mix. Controlled immigration is not only about being responsible about those who come in to the country but ensuring all are catered for once they are here. Japan, Australia and Denmark have some of the strictest immigration laws in the world. Social Justice Warriors are not smashing up their keyboards over those countries. Why should the UK be any different in ensuring immigrants can support themselves and assimilate into our society?

The talk of jobs going is nonsense. Leaving the EU does not necessarily dissolve any trade or business partnerships. On top of that, we can set more preferential trading terms with countries outside the EU because we can determine the tariffs. That would have been a handy fiscal tool to have when China was dumping large quantities of steel on to the market. Too little, too late for Tata Steel and the rest. What I'm saying is what will be lost on the swings would be gained on the roundabouts.

I don't know a time when the UK was not part of the European Union. When it was established, it was to create a trading bloc that would negate any sense in going to war. Now, it is a power hungry political machine. That's not what we signed up for. It is like we got into a business partnership with someone and after a while realised that we got married under the radar.

I don't like how things are. Just like a lot of Scottish people do not like being ruled from Westminster, I don't like being ruled from Brussels (as a model of consistency that I endeavour to be, I supported Scottish Independence too). Something has to change and I honestly can't see how I, one man in the street, am better off because of the European Union. 

Ask yourself. Are you happy with the status quo? If you are, I would encourage you to vote to remain in the European Union. If not, isn't it time we tried something different?


  1. Will Brits get to vote on the new laws to replace the EU laws? Will Brits get to vote on the results of the negotiations? Will Brits get to vote on the brittip negotiations? Will immigration change, given that Norway and Switzerland both had to agree to schengen for their trade deals? What happens to paneuropean company jobs like airbus? What happens to the one million plus British oaps in Iberia?

  2. Leaving wouldn't require EU laws to be replaced unless deemed necessary. EU laws are instituted by British Parliament making them into statutes.

    Apparently, we'd have to wait 10 years for the UK edition of TTIP but it would be negotiated by people we actually elected, rather than appointed officials.

    Immigration would change. Schengen would never match immigration levels possible by the free movement of EU citizens. To suggest otherwise is ignoring the numbers involved.

    Paneuropean jobs may be affected. Or they might not. No one knows. My decision is not based on the economic scaremongering of both campaigns. Therefore, I don't believe you can honestly vote either way based on the predicted impact to jobs.

    And as for one million plus OAPs in Iberia... I guess they would have to do what all the people who emigrate to countries outside the EU do. If the only reason to Remain is to facilitate easier retirement plans for some, then that's pathetic.