Some thoughts on Brexit

The referendum campaign seems to have largely been argued on either a ideological based argument or a polarising fear based one. Neither are helpful and neither allows a fairly neutral voter to make a reasonable decision.

I will be Voting Leave on June 23rd and I hope that the majority of the UK will come to that conclusion as well. I don’t think that everyone who votes ‘Remain’ are wrong, because this isn’t a decision that relies on totting up the numbers to come to the right conclusion; Rather it requires looking at several key areas in which the EU affects the UK and deciding which future will best enable the UK to protect and serve its citizens, and be a positive influence to the world at large.

When you have a belief about something and you are defending it, you are often led to extremes in order to differentiate yourself from the other side. This is something we should resist and it is a shame that both sides have succumbed to polarising the debate. Whatever the result it is likely 45%+ will have voted for the opposing result and we should be mindful that these people are our friends and neighbours.

There are three main areas that have dominated the campaign: The Economy, Law and Governance, Immigration. They are intertwined but I believe each stand individually as examples in which the UK will be better off leaving.

The Economy

There will be a short term impact with a Brexit vote, if you manage a sterling based hedgefund or are a import based SME then you are likely to be adversely affected in the immediate aftermath. The medium to long term is, however, far rosier. As Steve Hilton argued in The Times today:

“a British government that actually governed Britain could decide to build on our unique (and pre-EU) economic advantages of language, law, timezone, scientific and service-sector strength by shaping employment and industrial policy to make Britain the best place in the world to start and grow business. That’s what taking control means: more jobs and higher living standards”

The Black Line is when the UK joined the then EEC

The EU has been in relative, economic decline since we first joined it. If we left the EU we would be able to make our own trade deals with the growing and emerging areas of the world. As an example, EU trade negotiations with Japan, India and the UAE have been suspended or have barely moved in the last 5–10 years. A dynamic UK outside the EU would allow the worlds 5th biggest economy to create trade agreements that best suit our uniquely placed economy as opposed to the one-size fits all approach of the EU.

UK exports

The trend of exports to the EU compared to exports to Non-EU has dramatically shifted over the last 20 years. The gap between Non-EU to EU will continue to rise, being able to create our own trade policy will allow the UK to be unshackled from inefficient EU regulations and negotiate with our partners on our own terms.

Finally, the EU is unnecessarily expensive. As Daniel Hannan recently pointed out, the net contribution to Brussels over the last 5 years is more than every single austerity measure the UK has faced combined since 2010. It is a fallacy by Leave to suggest that this saving can be simply redirected to the NHS but the point of the EU being an unnecessarily high cost stands.

Law & Democracy

The issue of democracy was what ultimately swayed me from Remain to Leave. This extended quote from Rob Liddle outlines much of my concerns about a future within the EU:

There is really only one clinching argument — and it is astonishing that so little hyperbole has been expended on it. It’s this: democracy... The unelected president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has recently made it clear that any country that elects a right-of-centre populist government will be stripped of its rights to make decisions within the EU, and possibly subjected to a loss of income. He did not hint at this, he actually said it. If Austria had voted its Freedom party into power, it would have had its decision making capacity within the EU removed.

The EU is currently applying the same sanctions to Poland, whose electorate had the impudence to elect a mildly socially conservative government. The Poles could face a total removal of their voting rights and economic sanctions — all for voting in the “wrong” party. The European Commission gave itself these powers- to bully and ostracise countries that vote for policies that contravene Juncker’s own personal credo — back in 2014. This is not merely outrageous and scandalous but genuinely worrying. No dissent allowed from the socially liberal, fiscally conservative line. Because it is not only right-wing populists who have incurred the wrath of Juncker and the rest of the commission. If you are Greek and vote for an anto-austerity left wing socialist party, you will be bullied too. No dissent allowed. None. If you are opposed to any more immigration to the EU and are a bit worried about Islam — that’s your voting rights gone. Europe will be a sort of gigantic safe place where only approved opinions are allowed.

… It has become a tyranny, intolerant of any dissenting voices, contemptuous towards the wishes of the people. Why, given this, would you ever vote “remain”?

Accountability is a crucial aspect of good governance. The EU doesn’t have accountability and relies on a system of unelected presidents who are able to inflict their personal agendas unchecked.

Furthermore since signing over sovereignty to the EU there have been numerous cases where UK citizens have complained to our parliament about unfair laws, normally Westminister is able to at least respond to these concerns, yet with invasive European jurisdiction Westminister has been helpless (VAT on Fuel, VAT on sanitary products, deportation of criminals).

The problem is not only a lack of accountability for the EU but that it in turn limits our ability in keeping our own government accountable.

The narrative of the EU project is one of closer and closer integration. It’s a slow moving bus that is going down a one way street. The leaked information about the EU army is especially worrying. NATO has been the major force for peace within Europe despite what the EU might proclaim. A EU army will throw NATO’s position into question. America is unlikely to continue to be as supportive within NATO if an EU army starts to assert its agenda.

Immigration

We can create a better and fairer system than the status quo by taking full control of our immigration policy. A better system is one which treats people with the same just rights irregardless of where they come from. There are tens of thousands of non-EU marital partners who are banned from joining their British spouses because they don’t earn enough money to reach the arbitrary, restrictive threshold. On a similar level, tens of thousands of skilled non-EU workers are denied entry.

Net migration was 330,000 last year. The Convervatives pledged to keep this in the tens of thousands. In order to keep this in the realms of possibility, the UK have been severe in restricting non-EU immigration as we are not able to impose any limits from within EU.

I’m a huge supporter of immigration. I’m currently on a one year working holiday visa in Australia, last year I lived in Italy in what would have been a student visa and have visited dozens of countries on various tourist visas. Visas open to young people to study and travel is something we should encourage. Likewise, visas in accordance with something similar to Australia’s points based system is effective in encouraging talent where a country has shortages. Complete, unrestricted freedom of movement strains a countries housing infrastructure and public services, particularly in the UK where there continues to be a shortage of affordable housing. Mass immigration can also be a barrier to growth for developing countries. The ideal end goal for Syria is not for 20 million people to resettle in Europe but rather for 20 million people to be safe enough to live in Syria and make their country thrive.

Small government and a transfer of power from the state to local communities and charities creates a better society. We have a unique opportunity to move towards this positive future. Or, alternatively, find ourselves siphoning our taxes and resources to prop up a cumbersome, invasive federal European state.

We can never fundamentally change the EU

The EU is set up in a way in which certain things are sacred, this was seen with Cameron’s European tour with negligible concessions. The slow moving bus will continue to trudge down its one way street.

No matter how much we are able to influence, debate and negotiate within the EU, we will be never be able to:

1. negotiate UK trade agreements outside the EU

2. have a purely accountable and democratic governance

3. stop unlimited, unrestricted immigration within the EU

This is crucial in breaking down the ‘Remain’ fallacy of leading or changing the EU from within. The important things which need to change are things that will never change while we are a member. We need to jump off the EU bus and drive our own vehicle, visiting and working with the emerging countries of the world. Freeing ourselves of invasive EU legislation and create a fairer, just society.

It’s a shame that the ‘left’ case for Brexit has been underplayed in the media, because for young people it is the most compelling argument. There’s a tendency to equate membership of the EU with a general world view of collaboration and working together with other countries. This is a huge mistake. Vote Leave isn’t about stopping collaboration, it’s about removing the UK from a toxic, oppressive system and engaging with the world at large.

TimPemberton.uk

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