Friday, 20 September 2019

I voted to Leave.

I voted to Leave.

And if I have to, will vote to Leave a second time.

There is so much anger, hysteria and plain nastiness floating around on this issue, that I have decided to limit  my engagement with it all. I don’t think my opinion is that important in the great scheme of things, and I certainly don’t think it is worth falling out with anyone because they hold a different opinion to my own.  I believe our views and political persuasion are generally shaped by our life experiences, which as we all know can be very different. I generally enjoy exchanging opinions. 

I decided to write all this down to make my position absolutely clear to anyone interested. I’m not expecting you to agree with it, neither I am looking for any sort of response. I’m putting it out there so that anyone interested will have an understanding of my position and hopefully this will avoid pigeon holing and general misunderstandings. I’m not interested in winning the argument and purging the internet of those who disagree with me. 

I am not interested in receiving “you are plain wrong” statements but might be interested in your sincere genuine and considered response. As this subject is large and complex I don’t claim to have the full picture.

I fall into that not well represented group these days who voted Leave in the absence of genuine EU reform. I have given up on the EU willingly reforming itself. 

I became concerned about the EU's general direction at the time we signed the Lisbon Treaty. I was not influenced in my leave vote by Aaron Banks, Nigel Farage or Vladmir Putin.  Some of their arguments I agree with some I don’t. I don't think one side of the political spectrum has a monopoly on truth.  

My general opinion is that Leave won because enough people like myself voted to Leave rather than continue to argue for serious reform. Far right nationalists were always going to vote Leave but people like myself came to this conclusion gradually.

Do you remember the two main arguments during the referendum campaign ?
1.   Remain and fight for reform within. 
2.       Leave because it is never going to happen.

Very few people argued during the referendum campaign to stay in an unreformed EU. I believe one poll at the time showed less than 5% of the UK population were happy with the EU as it was. 

It is very noticeable to someone like me how that first position has shifted since the referendum, and now seems to have become “Remain regardless of reform". 

Democracy is hard to define, no system is perfectly democratic but people generally know when a system is becoming more or less democratic.  I believe that the democratic process is vitally important and gives you and I some protection from those who would impose their beliefs on us against our will, these people exist in every country, in every political movement and in every government system and I believe we should always be on our guard against them. And insisting on the validity of the democratic process is one of the few safeguards we have. We weaken it at our peril. 

I believe I owe it to previous generations who struggled to achieve these democratic rights, that I should fight to maintain and protect them in order that they are handed on intact to the next generation.  

I do not believe that temporarily elected politicians have the right to give away the permanent powers we grant them via the ballot box.

I believe the people are sovereign not Parliament.  
The core of this belief is that a democratic decision made by the people must be implemented.

I might make the odd exception if a referendum advocated war or the unfair treatment of a particular group in society. Politicians cannot ask the people to decide on an issue and then claim it was only advisory. 
In my view the people are sovereign and if they are asked to make a decision that decision in almost every circumstance must be implemented.  If the decision is not implemented then this weakens all our hard won and imperfect democratic rights.

I would feel the same if Remain had won.  I would continue to argue it was a mistake but I would  accept that for a generation that decision had been made.  You can’t run any system if every decision is always being challenged. 

The Commission
The unelected Commission controls the EU’s legislative process, it creates the legislation and controls the process by which it becomes law. Elected MEP’s can only vote YES or NO to this legislation. A good example of this was the recent election of Ursula von der Leyen as Commission President, hers was the only name put forward by the Commission and MEPS could only vote for or against her appointment.  
I don’t consider that democratic. 

The elected MEP’s in the European Parliament do not have the power to create legislation. This is written into the Lisbon Treaty and can only be changed by changing the treaty. The irony is that when the combined Westminster opposition took control of the legislative process in the House of Commons recently (to push through in record time Brexit delaying legislation), that process simply could not have happened in the European Parliament. The freedom our political system affords MP’s is being utilised to bind to us to a less free EU system.

There is no elected government in the EU and there is no means that you and I can influence the EU's policy direction. I know that if I vote for Jeremy Corbyn I will get a very different set of policies to the present government, there is simply no way of doing that in Brussels. That is not acceptable to me, I won’t vote in support of such a system. 

I see the EU operating a less democratic system with voters further removed from and less able to influence legislation and I simply can’t support that. 

I know there are serious shortcomings with our UK political system, but we retain the ability (just) to remove one government and replace it with another, and with it change policy direction and we don’t have that ability with the EU.

I don’t really have a problem with the basic idea of European co-operation. I agree that “jaw jaw” is better than “war war.” I would support a genuine Common Market and did back in 1975 but will never support European political union. 

I believe many of things decided by Brussels should be decided by national governments and I want a return of these powers. Trade, industrial and fisheries policies being the most well known examples. 

I believe that the UK will ultimately gain from once again having an independent trade policy. I believe the EU will make it as hard as possible for us to succeed in this, but I believe in it and remain  committed to it.
I acknowledge that the UK with its ageing population relies on immigration to keep our economy  functioning. But I believe the UK migration policy should be operated by the UK parliament. 

I believe in free movement for those with jobs to go to or the means to provide for themselves.  
I agree the world is getting smaller and people are moving around the world and will continue to do so. 
I don’t agree with the general viewpoint that taking down national borders is sensible. I think ultimately it will lead to the destabilisation of society. Do you run your PC or laptop without a security and a firewall ? Borders are international firewalls.

Business and trade.
I believe that restoring a UK independent trade policy is the real benefit of Leaving. I don’t accept that the EU’s one size fits all trade policy works in our interest and can’t be improved on.
I don’t believe trade with the EU will decline significantly with the imposition of trade tariffs. The UK has a deficit on EU imports, we pay them more for their goods than they pay for ours. I would like a Free Trade Agreement with the EU and don’t see any genuine reason why this can’t happen. I don’t see the point in not having an FTA because the lack of one hurts both sides, why would anyone argue for that ?  The reason a free trade agreement has not been negotiated is purely political and not economic, the EU believes it is the government of Europe and fears a successful UK outside the EU will highlight its economic failings and weaknesses.

The comparison between the EU and the USA is a stark one. The US in the last 30 years has seen major global companies emerge and create new products that dominate world markets. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Ebay.. the list goes on and on ? More recently a company like SpaceX s has massively reduced the cost of getting to space, and is a fine example of a company using innovation to push society forward and succeed over less innovative competitors. 

Can you name any European company that has emerged in the last 30 years and produced a product that has changed or revolutionised a world market ? The answer should tell you something about EU business culture. 

The share of global GDP of both the US and the EU has declined over the last couple of decades as developing countries have generally caught up. But the US’s share of global GDP has declined from 30% to around 24%, the EU’s has declined from 25% of global GDP to 16%. The EU started at lower GDP than the US (even with a bigger population) and has seen its smaller share of global GDP decline further. In my opinion  this should set alarm bells ringing.

Yes we can criticise the US for many things but creating new and successful products and selling them to the world isn’t one of them.

Business creates the wealth that pays for public services, I generally do not see business as the enemy as many seem to do.  I regard any person who risks their own money creating a business as a hero. There is nothing wrong in getting a return on capital risked in creating a new product or service. I must make an important distinction here, I believe the impact of neo liberalism is largely negative.  Neo Liberalism seeks to create private monopolies for big businesses by manipulating politicians which allow them to hike prices rather than encouraging competition. These business are wealth extractors rather than wealth creators. A business that seeks to restrict competition is already moribund and regressive. It is not a co –incidence that Neo Liberals love the EU and want us to Remain.

I believe in business competition, plurality, risk taking and innovation. I believe the EU is doing exactly the opposite, with an army of corporate lobbyists influencing Commission policy making.   Business is not the enemy of a developed society, but certain monopoly businesses are the enemies of competition, plurality, risk taking and innovation. 

I believe that businesses should pay fair taxes.

I'll leave the final word on Brexit business and economcs to Paul Krugman the respected economist who is opposed to Brexit.

The Euro and Greece
I consider the Euro to be failed experiment. The most obvious victim of this failed currency are the Greek people but other countries are also caught in the Euros economic stranglehold.

I believe that those countries that want to be part of the United States of Europe should become one country and have one economic policy and one currency. I don't want Britain to be a part of that. You cannot have different countries with different economies but the same currency and expect that to work. 

Greece went bankrupt because its politicians made financial promises they couldn’t keep, they are certainly not alone in doing that. In normal circumstances on bankruptcy a countries currency would collapse and the process of rebuilding would begin from the bottom. The bankrupt country’s low value currency would make its products and services look much cheaper to buyers around the globe and they are attracted to take advantage of this countries competitive prices. A country going bankrupt is never painless but at least countries like Argentina have been able to recover. In Greece’s case its membership of the Euro has denied it this route out of its bankruptcy. The ECB has protected the Euro at the expense of the Greek people. Their economy has shrunk by an extraordinary 25%. Sacrificing an entire nation and its economy is unforgivable.

The European Central Bank bailed out Greece but the money went directly to the mainly German and French banks that hold most of the Greek debt. It has not been used to reinvigorate the Greek economy. The Greek Syriza government proposed expanding its economy and rescheduling its debt and was bluntly told by the European Central Bank that if they did not comply with austerity measures imposed on it, the ECB would starve its banks of funds and the banks would collapse. The Greeks are now having their economic policy dictated to them by the ECB/EU, they have been forced into extensive privatisations (selling off key national industries and services to global big business) as a price of bail outs they never received, and have no way of escaping the straight jacket. 

Italy is also in a deep financial mess and also faces no way out of its problems without leaving the Euro. Spain and Portugal aren’t far behind. 

I do not support the EU’s policy in supporting the Euro at the expense of the people of Greece for the failures of Greek politicians and am not prepared to risk the EU doing similar to this country if the opportunity arose. 

I see no genuine reason why those countries that wish to participate in a United States of Europe cannot do so, and those that don't want that can't have different legal and political arrangements focused primarily on free trade.Why does "one size have to fits all" ?. 

The last few paragraphs should set alarm bells ringing. 

So what is the core problem with the EU ?

The basic problem is its bureaucratic and unaccountable structure. In a conventional democracy if things don’t go well the population have the opportunity to change the economic policy by changing the government, we have no way of doing that in the EU. The Commission faces little in the way of a political challenge and continues to operate as it always has, even when it is not working.

I don’t have any strict party political affiliation. I do not believe any party or political philosophy has a monopoly on truth, they all have good and bad aspects. If a policy works I support it, if it doesn't I don't.  

I accept the basic Tory argument that business risk taking and innovation create the wealth (no that doesn't mean I am uncritical of business, wealth extractors v wealth creators) to pay for public services. I also agree with the lefts advocacy of things like universal healthcare and education (but not at any cost).

So where are we now ? (Sept 19)

Not in a good place.

The EU won't talk trade which is just about what every Brexiter wants until a political agreement is signed and sealed. In my opinion the EU is fearful that if the UK is successful after Brexit that this will encourage other countries to question its purpose. This is already happening right across Europe, the media labels it "populism" but fails to identify what is causing this widespread disaffection. Populism and anti EU sentiments are a symptom of a problem with the EU. 

To someone like myself this refusal by the EU to conduct and agree a trade deal  even without political plain crazy. The EU is treating Britain as an adversary. If no trade deal is struck it risks thousands of jobs on both sides of the Channel. A study by a University in Belgium put the potential job losses at over a million.

The refusal to agree a trade deal is more evidence that the EU puts preserving its own power and authority ahead of the welfare of its own people. I'm afraid I don't want to be a part of such an organisation.

I believe with goodwill the possible negatives of Leaving could be reduced to near zero. Sadly there seems to be little goodwill about. Britain does not deserve to be treated like some pariah state.

You'll notice that I haven't mentioned UK politics much here, the reason for that is simple. Brexit is less about simplistic RIGHT BAD LEFT GOOD of UK politics and is more about the direction and operation of the European Union.

 I don't expect you to agree. But thanks for reading all the same.

I'll put a video that outlines a very similar position to my own.
I don't so much agree with his politics but his analysis of the EU and its faults are very close to my own.

Andy Mercer's website

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