Brexit. Our good friend, Brexit. When conversations turn political at the local boozer, we can guarantee you’ll be there. When it is a particularly slow news day for publications and networks, we can count on you to fill the gap. Brexit is always there like a bad rash, no matter how much political ointment you apply, it just likes to hang around. I mean, I’m positive it has nothing to do with its geo-political, socio-economic and historical significance but we can brush that under the rug for now.
For some, Brexit has turned us against one another. For others, it has brought us closer together. For some, a stand against the vicious cocktail of race-fuelled biases and intolerance of diversity and ethnicity. For others, a standing for political sovereignty and preservation of democratic values.
Whatever your reasons are for voting and rationale you hold for your position, it is important for people to communicate ideas without fear of scrutiny and an annihilation of your reputation. So today, I’ll attempt to unravel my position (as a remainer) on Brexit for you to better understand my position (if you remotely care). Hopefully, with some political discussion I can gain the same insight into what the community is thinking and learn from it.
Brexit – The economic argument
The economic argument for Brexit for me is very weak. For me, it is one of those arguments that suggests economic prosperity will come in the form of taking a patriotic blind leap into the unknown and using the power of faith to hope we succeed. It seems, on the outset, to be an argument that looks at the UK with lust as if it was the economic powerhouse and territorial empire it used to be. To me, the evidence doesn’t support it. A good article from The Financial Times (debatably a biased source but we can discuss that later) breaks down the potential economic impact. This article appears to be equally in line with all of the reputable economists based in the UK. A lot of our factory plants will be outsourcing, like the Nissan plant in the north. Huge employers, like this, will be a net loss. Our possibilities for trade do not look fantastic from the outset. We have a, so called “outstanding” offer from Mr Trump and the United States. But with his “make America great again” mantra, I don’t think the trade is going to have our best interests at heart. The fall back plan of WTO trade rules does not seem appealing either as the countries on this list do not seem to be as economically beneficial as the countries we currently have access to. The countries or principalities that trade solely under WTO rules can be found on this list by Medium. I, for one, am not a fan of significant job loss, a hit on our economy, the devaluation of the pound, and chlorinated chicken from the poorly standardised American agriculture industry (which would be a significant part of President Trump’s trade agreement).
I am not a complete pessimist. I hope, for all our sakes, that in the wake of a no-deal Brexit, we get the economic benefits we were promised by the more patriotic among us. Things can change and nothing is set in stone. However, the evidence to suggest that leaving the bureaucratic clutches of Brussels is going to help us is not an argument I’m not willing to stand for yet.
The Political argument
If you were ever going to sell Brexit as a good idea to me, this would be the reason. The argument for the upkeep of democratic freedoms, maintenance of sovereignty and the freedom to govern without EU interference is definitely a more marketable argument. Some statistics and polls estimate about 60% of UK legislation is legislation from the EU parliament and commission. The problem with democracy in the argument is that you do not vote on the European commission and only in part to the government representatives. Essentially your legislation if dictated by unelected representatives in some cases. The argument to break free of the chains of an overarching policy-maker and govern freely is a compelling argument.
There are arguments as to the validity of the 60% statistic. It is worth noting that between 1993-2014, there were 33,160 statutory instruments implemented by the EU. These are obviously of varying degrees and impacts, however, they were done by executive order which is in direct contrast to traditional democratic practices. Do we need that level of interference? If so, are we comfortable with the EU implementing that level of executive order in our nation? You can definitely argue the case for being against it.
Another key part of the political argument is whether the EU is a sinking ship or is it sustainable? Poll statistics show that EU voting and participation is at their lowest points ever. Two of the key things needed for the maintenance of the EU and the single market are a sense of common identity and the ability to work through problems surrounding Europe. Common identity has all but gone in Europe with some polls estimating that only 8% of Europeans feel “European”. One of the big problems is the willingness to make the EU work. Because of this lack of common association with a larger cause of Europe, nobody is willing to make serious headway in preserving its future because of economic self-interest. With democratic freedoms come a destabilization of large continental alliances. This is why the USSR fell.
One final point to mention is one raised by Jacob Rees-Mogg in an Oxford talk about the democratic issues in the EU. Despite a general disliking of Rees-Mogg, he raised a valid point about the rise of far-left and far-right parties as a result of the distaste for the EU. The rise of the “Golden Dawn” party in Greece and the “Five Star Movement” in Italy have been particular concerning with growing popularity in response to a hatred of the EU according to Rees-Mogg. We are even seeing it here. The rise of the Brexit party led by Nigel Farrage is an indicator that change is needed and change is wanted in terms of democratic disagreements with the EU. There is definitely a case that can be made in my view.
The social argument
The main social issue that has arisen from this is the immigration debate. Will it make us socially more cohesive? Absolutely not. I am still waiting to see a valid argument on the basis that we have a heinous immigration problem and I am still yet to see a valid argument that suggests that it was racist to vote for Brexit. There actually aren’t many social benefits to Brexit. It has polarised us as a nation with an irrational hatred and lack of understanding of the other side. This level of opinionated segregation is only set to continue further. If anything, Brexit has destroyed our social fabric, and both sides of the political aisle have their fair share of blame.
I hope you enjoyed this slightly different instalment. It is one to drum up discussion in the political sphere and hopefully learn some more. I always strive to learn more and improve on my political naivety so feel free to educate me.
Until next time.