EU say tomato….

Given I’m rather in favour of leaving the EU (more of which later) I thought I’d look at some of the things been said by those who hold the differing view. Both sides I’m afraid are making a lot of capital out of the confusion between:

  • The European Union – the political body we’re discussing leaving
  • Europe the continent which we are rather adjacent to and that isn’t going to change
  • The European Court of Human Rights which has nothing to do with the European Union
  • The European Convention on Human rights which also has nothing to do with the European Union
  • Many other things which start with the word European or Europe

Just to look at a few examples I’m just going to use two sources – they’re typical enough.
First CrowdPac “Are You In Or Out?”, this is an allegedly neutral quiz to suggest where you stand and to encourage you to look into things in more depth. However it’s very difficult to be actually neutral as any scenario is laced with assumption, so here’s a few examples from their questions. I would also note that they swap between “Europe” and “the EU” quite freely.

2. Being part of Europe has helped us protect the environment.
Which Europe exactly do they mean, I know they’re simplifying things but many environmental issue such as say the Kyoto protocol are global so the EU is just one voice amongst many and we could sign up to such a treaty regardless of if we’re part of the EU or not. If they mean more local issues like beach quality, well could that not have been dealt with at a national level if people actually cared?

5. Being part of Europe has made Britain a better country.
Are they expecting us to tow the UK further out into the Atlantic? Regardless of the outcome of the vote we’ll still be part of Europe – unless of course it gets cut off by fog.

7. European cooperation is important to protect the interests of our children and grandchildren.
Because of course if we leave the political body that is the EU it will be impossible for us to cooperate with any of our continental neighbours on anything – despite the fact that we’ve done so for centuries?

11. Cooperation with other European nations on terrorism and security makes Britain safer.
This is basically a repeat of question 7 with added fear, why would we stop co-operating on such matters?

So so much for that, now for my next “random” source 10 points to consider about Brexit and the EU Referendum a blog friends of mine linked to.

1. We’ll have control over our own laws.
No. We won’t, we will still need to harmonise with Europe. The only difference between now and then is that at the moment we get to influence those laws. If we leave we just have to adopt them

Yet the remain campaign also claim that the EU doesn’t create that much law – so which is it? Also many of the regulations we adopt are from larger supranational bodies anyway where we already have a voice, except now the EU speaks for us. So much like Norway we could have our say at the top table rather than via the EU as middleman. Also apart from trade regulations EU law wouldn’t apply within the UK and we wouldn’t have to adopt it.

2. British courts can make the final decision.
More complex this one but, in short, no. They can’t. At least not any more than now. The European Court of Human Rights (the Daily Mule’s biggest enemy) has nothing to do with the EU. The European Court of Justice is the final arbiter of EU law (not national law)… see point 1.
So in part I agree with this, except remain supporters do like to conflate the European court of Human Rights with the Eu as well, and see my rebuttal to point 1.

4. We can control immigration.
In theory, yes, we could. We could pull up the drawbridge and fill in the tunnel too. But it won’t happen because we lose more than we gain.

Why do EU supporters seem to always conflate controlling with stopping immigration? I fear this says far more about them than it does about anyone that wants to leave the EU. A straw man argument at best.

5. Staying in makes terrorism more likely.
One of the more facile claims, this is so brilliantly stupid that it is almost genius. Staying in the EU makes us a hotbed for terrorism whilst leaving means we’re all safe. There you have it! The only problem is, it’s not true. First of all, see point 4 above. Then consider that terrorists are just like multi-nationals – they don’t respect national borders, they don’t play fair and they don’t care about you.

Now the EU supporters do also like to claim that leaving the EU would make terrorism more likely – so both sides like to play this card. I personally doubt that leaving or remaining in the EU will have that much impact on terrorism. At least not whilst both the UK and the Eu tends to not have honest discussions about the problem and stick with a policy of appeasement and ignoring it. The problem here is not the EU so much as our glorious leaders.

6. We’ll renegotiate free trade deals to replace the EU.
We won’t. Certainly not quickly at least. We’ll trade with the EU as a member of the EEA so we get pretty much the same as now but we lose the power to influence any future changes. Again, see Norway. And the US has already made it clear it has no interest in a FTA with a newly isolated and rapidly sinking UK. But if you believe we can do instant deals why don’t you start with Scotland. As it will undoubtedly leave if the UK leaves the EU. As eventually will Northern Ireland. And then Wales… starting to feel like the ugly kid at the school disco yet?

So many assumptions here I really don’t know where to begin. Mind you I am still confused why Scotland would want to fight for independence to then just subsume itself into the EU – if anyone can please explain that to me? As to those trade deals we currently have a trade deficit with Europe so they stand to lose more than we do, and many of the exports counted as going to the EU are actually bound elsewhere it just they transit the EU so get counted there in official figures. All that said this is a short-term argument, lets decide our countries future for decades or centuries to come based on a few years of possible trade difficulties.

7. We’ll be strutting our stuff as world power again.
Newsflash! The UK is a world power. It has a seat on the UN Security Council. It punches enormously above its weight on the international stage. This is in part because of its connectedness to Europe and its power within the EU. Leave and what are you left with? There is momentum building to review the UNSC membership, what do you think are the odds that an isolated UK will still be there?

We do have a seat on the UN Security council and many other work bodies, all of which the EU would like take over so there will be a single EU representative speaking for everyone. As a nuclear power and a country willing to support UNSC resolutions I’d say our chance of keeping our seat are pretty good. That said here the argument seems to boil down to “we already have a seat, if we stay in the EU we’ll lose it if we leave we might lose it anyway”.

9. The EU is incompetent, badly run and a drain on resources.
Yes. It is. It is beyond incompetent in many cases. But we’re stuck with it one way or the other – leaving does not change that. It might be hard to change it but at least it’s possible from the inside (now more than ever). What can we do from outside? It’s also worth pondering that many of the problems with supposed-EU dictates lie in the local implementation (remember, it was the UK’s fault it didn’t impose the moratorium in immigration in 2004, as Germany and others did).

A point of agreement that the EU is badly run. However “we’re stuck with it” that surely is the entire point of this vote? If we’re outside then we’re less concerned if it’s badly run, in the same way that I’m not too worried if my next door neighbour is managing his finances badly. I can choose to help or not, but his credit card bills don’t cost me. I would though also agree that local implementation of EU diktats is an issue, but then if we leave the EU we don’t have to implement them so problem solved.

10. What’s it ever done for us anyway?
Nothing much. Other than working time directives and other ways that protect your rights at work, protect your children. Then there’s consumer protection and European peace. Not to mention the wholesale transition of Eastern Europe from volatile authoritarian states into thriving democracies. Maybe you don’t care about any of those things. But you should.

So much here to debunk, and so much that has already been debunked. The appeal to imposed legislation is anti-democratic as it implies that no UK government would have done those things on their own – it’s again an appeal to a body that can impose it’s will on a democratic national government which is fine until that body no longer does the stuff you want. Many of the things that protect our rights etc stem from the European convention on human rights which we’ve already established has nothing to do with the EU. European peace has quite a bit more to do with NATO and are the remain supporters really claiming that the moment the UK leaves Europe it will once more descend into war? (OK they do seem to be on occasion). But really given how unimportant the UK is painted as our leaving should cause a conflagration on the continent and I doubt we’ll invade them, so is the argument actually “leave the EU and the EU will invade”? If so that seems rather like a protection racket. I also question just how much of a role the EU really has had in Eastern Europe moving towards democracy.

The remain campaign seems to me to try to have it’s cake and eat it. Claiming both that the UK is insignificant, but if it leaves the world will end and the UK is important but if it leaves it’s a small spent force that everyone will ignore. I would though agree with the parting comment of the article:
We’re being fed a diet of half-truths and outright lies based on short-termism when the real issues are not just complex but fundamental to our economic and geopolitical future.

This is absolutely true for both sides, and probably more so for the remain campaign than for leave, it also ignores the more important questions that are above the purely pragmatic economic and realpolitik – what price democracy, what sort of future do we want, what direction is the EU really going in and do we want to go along with that?

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