I’ve kept out of this argument until now, but I thought I’d better speak out as it looks as if it is possible the Leave supporters might actually win. If you are a Leave supporter, please don’t allow that to stop you reading. Don’t you want an opinion from an pensioner who has worked in various industries, run businesses both successfully and with failures, and now relies on a pension? I hope I’m going to give you a different perspective, why not, at least, give me a hearing.
Firstly I think we all ought to consider what we are about to throw away. The European Union, or whatever you want to call it, is an experiment to try to ensure a good trading environment and the ability for people to move freely through a large area of the world.
It is often said, when Americans have told us we ought to remain, that they would never give any of their rights away to neighbouring countries. From where did this silly idea originate? The United States of America have already given away most of their rights – the USA is like Europe, a collection of diverse states who got together, a long time ago, to provide themselves with more security, a larger trading base and the free movement of people. For some stupid reason, people don’t realise that the USA is already a union of diverse states. The USA is what Europe is trying to emulate politically. Each state has its own laws, taxes, benefits and faults and they all work together for a federal USA. You have to start somewhere and they started a long time ago, even having internal wars, so don’t start saying they are different from us.
The problem Europe has is that the countries within the EU are extremely diverse in their wealth and poverty. Expansion has been too fast and that can now be demonstrated, but when you are part of a group like this, and mistakes like that are made, you need to work together to resolve them, not jump overboard as Brexit would have us do. Remember that Britain encouraged all of those eastern European countries to join and had a veto to stop it, so don’t blame it all on ‘the rest’, we were part of making that decision and were perfectly capable of stopping it.
The premature expansion has been exacerbated by the problems in the middle east and north Africa, caused mainly by Britain and the USA, incidentally, adding a huge refugee element, but we must not forget that these people need help. They should be helped unconditionally until the problems in their countries are resolved and they can return. Refugees are NOT economic migrants – they are fleeing for their lives. To turn them away is shameful, absolutely shameful! I am ashamed of our government’s attitude to them.
Returning to the comparison between the EU and USA, in the USA most states are now very similar to each other so the free movement of people within the USA is not caused by people going from Utah to Massachusetts to earn a better minimum pay, they move for lifestyle reasons between states which are similar in the facilities, education and styles of life they offer.
For Europe to reach that level of integration the minimum wage needs to be the same (or similar) throughout Europe as should the health services, the level of wages, the standard of roads, the types of benefits, the pensions, the education systems and so on. That cannot be achieved overnight, but anyone who thinks it is a bad objective to try to create a group of countries with similar economies and opportunities is, frankly, elitist. Is it not wonderful to be able to drive through countries without borders? The problem currently is that more people want to live in Britain, Germany and France than in Spain, Greece and Hungary. That can only even-out by us working together over the next few generations. Abandoning it because we don’t want to share our wealth and knowhow is no more than greed and selfishness. It needs time to create a better world for everyone.
We are in danger of leaving a social experiment which we know (history tells us) will lead to a better life for our population in the future. We are going to do that why? Because we want to isolate ourselves and deny our descendants the future opportunities of integration. It is, frankly, a self-centred, egotistic and narrow-minded attitude.
Not that it matters to the narcissistic individuals like Johnson & Farage, who want to cut our throats by leaving but, one day, Europe will be wealthier and have better living conditions than an isolated Britain. So, Brexiteers, be careful for what you wish, because your error this month will echo down the generations to come.
David Cameron, that snivelling elitist prime minister, offered the referendum because he was paranoid about UKIP losing him the last election. He won. He conned his supporters and was forced to offer a referendum. As part of this he had a renegotiation which, frankly, was so petty it was not worthy of the name. He assumed the referendum would be a cake-walk as it was when Harold Wilson called one over forty years ago. He thought it was a foregone conclusion. Now he has put the whole future of Britain in jeopardy. It was the epitome of stupidity, because people are going to vote in this referendum based entirely on their own paranoia about immigration and a sense of nationalism which snaps of right wing fanaticism.
What Britain needs to be doing is to help the EU raise the living standards throughout Europe even if it causes a hit on our own wealth. People join clubs and organisations because it is better to work together than apart, yet in this instance, the population seems to be blind to what would be thrown away.
What is rather strange is that Brexiteers I have heard from are concerned about the growth of Islamic communities in their towns and cities. Large numbers of immigrants from Pakistan, India and the like. But leaving the EU actually doesn’t stop that. If you listen to Farage and Johnson you will quickly realise that they are wanting to stop the French, Romanians, Greeks, Portuguese and other Europeans entering the UK, but will continue to allow Indians, Pakistanis, Australians, many African nations etc. on a points system. From the Islamic phobia point of view of so many in the UK, there will be more arriving after Brexit than before. That doesn’t bother me, but if you think getting out of Europe is going to stop the Pakistani and Indian ghettos growing within the UK – think again.
The main point, however, is for Europe to work towards a single community in the way the American States have.
Surely, one day, we will be one world all working together for the benefit of all humanity, giving up on it, conceding defeat and exiting our neighbourhood community makes that further away, not closer. As for wars, well, the best way to avoid them is to be part of a community. If the EU had existed in 1935 the rise of Nazi Germany would never have happened. If we go off on our own, our friends in Europe will be forever suspicious of us trying to make deals with others which will be to their disadvantage. This can lead to petty jealousies and dissatisfaction – petty jealousies and dissatisfaction lead to trade-wars and they can so often spill over into actual wars.
There is a huge amount wrong with Europe, but we should be working together to put it right, not bailing out. Britain’s strength is its quality of social services, health service and economic ability, despite the Tories. We should be trying to bring our standards to the rest of Europe, not isolating ourselves and making the rest of the EU a poorer place by our leaving. We will not be forgiven for doing that. Mark my words.
But even the benefits of leaving fall short and it will be the poorest who suffer, because leaving Europe will certainly cause an economic downturn, even if short-lived. Who suffers in recessions – ordinary people lose their jobs and austerity will be required to pull back out of it? The social downturn will, however, go on for decades. Renegotiating our trade deals with Europe will cause exactly the problems encountered by Switzerland. We will not get good deals unless we allow free movement of people and we will be exactly back to square one, but with import tariffs, difficulty buying on line from Europe, booking villas and independent holidays on-line. It will all become more difficult. Imagine a tourism tariff! When you book a villa in Spain you could find a 10% surcharge just because you are booking from the UK. Trade wars could see the reverse also occurring. Britain’s tourist industry is huge and could be put under threat. It will also be more difficult for people from the USA, Canada and Australasia to combine European holidays with UK holidays. All of this has been so easy with us being members of the EU, when we leave it could cause no end of problems and I speak as someone with vast experience in the tourist industries.
However, the biggest and saddest result of a Leave vote will be the end of a project to bring all European nations together and, one day, perhaps a century away, all be one world, moving freely around it with equivalent standards of living and education. That can NEVER be achieved if countries choose isolationism.
I would ask all Brexit supporters to give careful thought to what they really want for their children’s children’s children. You are in danger of choosing to be selfish, greedy, I’m all right Jack and having a ‘the rest of you can go to hell,’ attitude. If you do, it will come back to bite your descendants one day and YOU will have caused it!
They will marvel at your isolationist, nationalistic stupidity; in exactly the same way that we wonder at our forebear’s creation of slavery and our arrogance in colonising and subjugating half the world in the 19th century!
Think, think, think, THINK!
Tony Harmsworth, 12th June 2016