My study/home office is currently in a state of disarray whilst I redecorate and I’m a few pints in on a rather lovely raspberry saision – so this may be a bit rambling. I , like may others, have noticed that most of the arguments still being trotted out against Brexit are entirely pragmatic in nature. There’s no particular case being made for the EU except fiscal and travel. All of the arguments about what rights the UK might abandon and what restrictions the UK might be put in place are things that are entirely mutable from within the UK. If tacking Eu regulations and laws is good, we can choose to do that. If allowing free movement of Europeans into the UK is good, we can do that. If opening up immigration beyond the realms of Europe is good , we can do that too.
The only things outwith our control are those that are within the gift of Europe. Students taking part in ERASMUS, the EU. Sending our goods to the EU with minimal cost and hassle – the EU. Freedom of movement for UK citizens within the EU – the EU. Post Brexit we are free to give the EU and the rest of the world as much freedom to come and live in , co-operate with or trade with the UK as we like. Now what the current negotiating team may or may not do is a different question but governments come and go and if this one closes a door the net may open it. So it’s entirely within our power to let our representatives know what form we want Brexit to take – and it always has been. We don’t have to leave the powers that be reading the tea leaves of broad referendum or inconclusive general elections, we can write to them and tell them “deliver this, or next time you’re out”.
Which rather brings me to the matter of abolition. I’ve been avoiding this for a long time as analogies are tricky and don’t stand up well to scrutiny. However every anti-Brexit article and post I’ve read of late you could quite easily substitute the word “Brexit” for “Abolition”.
If we abolish slavery costs will go up.
If we abolish slavery industry will suffer.
If we fight against slavery taxes will rise.
If we abolish slavery we’ll be the laughing stock of the world.
And so on and so forth. All of the “pragmatic” arguments being trotted out against Brexit, and how it will make us worse off could so easily have been applied to abolition ( and other well known historic events where the UK didn’t follow the crowd ). No it won’t be easy. No it won’t be without cost. No we don’t have the best people in place to handle it. But it’s still the right thing to do. If we want to allow immigration from the entire world based on merit we can only do that outside of the EU. If we want to stop charging crippling tariffs on developing nations – we can only do that outside of the EU. If we want to stop charging tax on tampons – we have to leave the EU.
When you look at the arguments put forth by the remain side, both before the vote right through to the current day – there is no ideology behind it. No sense of what’s right. No vision of a future beyond the convenience to university students traveling abroad, a cheap labour force, cheap goods, and the ability to have a cheap hassle free holiday on the continent. If you went back to the early 1800’s the people arguing to remain in the EU today would have been arguing against abolition, because of the cost and because who knows where it would lead.
The demonisation of ideology, and the abhorrence of paying a price and making a sacrifice for a cause – is somewhat of a plague across the modern political spectrum. Which doesn’t bode well for any of us.