Has it only been one week? Already I am totally bored with the whole nonsense of the EU referendum, a pointless political tactic to save David Cameron’s career by potentially wrecking many others. What have we learnt so far? Well the first thing is that many Tories seem to be living in a dreamland where No doesn’t mean No but rather ask me one more time when I will say Yes. By this I mean the ridiculous notion that we can have a second referendum after this if we vote No to in fact vote Yes once we have got even better conditions from the EU after we had voted No. I think that is the idea but as it makes no sense I haven’t really tried to understand it. This has been put forward by Boris Johnson as the reason that he is for leaving the EU when in fact he is really for remaining but that doesn’t serve his own personal political agenda of becoming Prime Minister. Sod Britain.
The second thing is that amongst the No campaign supporters there is a notion that because ‘I voted for the Common Market not the EU’ has somehow got any weight. I have even read some one suggest that his father and grandfather didn’t fight the Germans so that we could then become part of a greater Europe. As to what that person’s father and grandfather did during the first and second world war of the twentieth century I have no idea but the first idea that because he didn’t vote for something it somehow makes it illegitimate fails to understand how a parliamentary democracy works. We don’t vote for things but MPs in general elections who in turn then vote on the issues of the day on our behalf. We, in Britain, have very rarely in the past held plebiscites, although they have become a lot more common in the recent times so perhaps this is where the confusion arises, so just because you didn’t vote for something doesn’t make illegitimate, this person’s father and grandfather didn’t vote for the war they fought in but it was still legitimate.
The final thing I think we have learnt this week is just how difficult it is going to be try and prove leaving the EU will work to make Britain a more prosperous place. The basis for this idea is that as Britain is a large economy and all of the EU countries will want to trade with Britain then they are bound to want to make a favourable trade deal as any breakdown in trade will hurt the EU as much as it will hurt Britain. In a perfect world this is a reasonable assertion however this isn’t a perfect world and, in my view, is dangerous nonsense for a number of reasons:
Firstly what incentives will the EU have to make any such favourable deal with Britain? We would have pissed off all of the leaders of the countries of the EU by leaving and there will be a natural reluctance to tell us where to get off, especially if we have stirred up domestic problems for individual countries by leaving;
Secondly, even if such an assumption is correct it won’t be easy to get anything sorted out in the short term as such a trade agreement may well require it to be ratified by all the remaining EU countries and so is unlikely to be in place for a number of years, far longer than it is assumed by the No campaign side;
Thirdly what about Norway and Switzerland? They will see the preferential conditions that Britain has got and so will want the same, causing even greater confusion;
Finally what about the rest of the world? As I understand it our trade agreements with the rest of the world are EU agreements and once we have left the EU we would have to negotiate new ones which again won’t be straightforward and who will be in charge of doing this whilst at the same time negotiating the EU treaty and probably a break up of the United Kingdom?
Whilst all this political maneuvering is taking place back in the real world the uncertainty generated isn’t going to encourage investment and stability for the economy which is, of course, great for hedge fund investors and their like who make their billions from strife and uncertainty but for the rest of us it is likely to mean real problems with things like jobs and inflation and devaluation of the pound etc. In short the key argument that we would have a more prosperous country after leaving the EU isn’t likely to be true anytime soon and the costs of such prosperity is going to be be so high that few outside of Mayfair in London are going see them anytime soon.
Of course I could well be wrong but the argument I have put forward above does show the risks involved whereas the risks involved in staying with the EU are far lower for most people and that in a nutshell is why it is going to be very difficult to prove the financial case for leaving the EU. For some this is all irrelevant as they just hate ‘johnny foreigner’ but that is a whole different ball game.