Thursday, May 05, 2016

To leave, or not to leave, that is the question.

What are the reasons I want to stay in the EU?

Boring, but important: the economy. There can be no doubt that there will be tremendous disruption to investment for a prolonged period if we vote to leave.

Free movement: we are free to live work and study across Europe thanks to the EU. We may be trapped on our green and pleasant,  but cold and wet island.

The Union with Scotland: the UK will almost certainly come to an end as Scotland will vote to remain.

Northern Ireland: the hard won precarious peace will be destabilised, as the Irish Republic will certainly remain in.

The diehard outers will say in all sincerity that these are risks worth running to preserve or regain our sovereignty.  But I say that instead, without the UK arguing the case for a the EU to be a free association of sovereign state,  it will become a more and more centralised bloc of countries facing us from a position of strength: exactly what 200 years of British foreign policy as sought to avoid.

But what do the outers want, really? To me it seems clear that the real animus for most outers is about immigration and identity: if only we leave we can reclaim our country.  Anti EU comments slide effortlessly toward hostility to migrants generally, and to Muslims.

Many outers want the Poles to leave: and they will be disappointed.  The Poles will not be kicked out,  because then the million and a half Brits living across the EU would be sent home as well.  Or do the outers believe that we can kick the EU,  and like a beaten dog they will simply whimper and walk away, tail between legs? But the days of Empire are gladly gone.

I fear that disappointment, combined with economic turmoil, andthe collapse of the Union with Scotland,  will turn us into a nasty inward looking country. An out vote would be a triumph of resentment. Instead of believing in a Great Britain, at ease in Europe and the world, we would be choosing a Little England, fearful,  isolated,  out in the cold.

We would survive, no doubt. It's not a country I'd want to stay in. But then, if we leave, I may have no choice.  My freedom to relocate to warmer friendlier parts may be terminated.


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