Jun. 21st, 2016

daveon: (Default)
I've been busy, insanely busy.  Work is work, I'll update another time.  We lurch, like all small businesses from crisis to crisis but, assuming we can get through the next 3 weeks, we're looking to be in amazing shape.

But that's not what I wanted to say.  On Thursday the British public are voting on whether or not to leave the European Union.  I have some thoughts.

Thought the first: This is why referedums are a bad bad bad bad idea.  It's a complicated question, the results so complex and far reaching that even the best informed can struggle to understand them, and after 40+ years of integration the divorce can't be anything but terrible.  The British people should not be settling a fight that's been going on inside the Tory Party for a generation, not for stakes like this.

Thought the second: There have been many things said about staying in or leaving, I'll come to some of them, but it's clear that the one that is hitting home is the idea of immigration and that it is too high.  As the child of an immigrant, and as a current immigrant, I have found the turn of the discussion terrifying.  Anybody who, without even thinking can say words to the effect of "I'm not a racist but..." needs to take a LONG hard look in a mirror.  And while not all the members of the Leave Campaign are racists, all the racists are members of the Leave campaign, and what this has laid bare is that the facade of British reasonableness and open mindedness is just that, a facade slapped over some nasty petty thoughts.

Thought the third: most of the things people are complaining about re: Thought the second are actually related to decisions the British have made all on our own in Westminster without any help from the EU.

So, I stand firmly in the In camp.  If you'd ask my 18 year old self the same question back in 1986, I'd probably have said, NO we're British!  But then 18 year old me was a pain, I didn't like him either.  I also did a lot of growing up and a lot of that growing up meant spending a lot of time travelling.

So here's the basics of my decision.

  • There is no doubt the EU has flaws - no organization is without them.  The British government in Westminster, with it's unelected upper house and weird electoral system which centralizes all the real power has flaws too

  • Much is said of the democratic 'deficit' at the heart of the EU, but a dispassionate review of the way the EU works suggests that's nonsense - not understanding how the EU works isn't a reason to leave (see point 1 above)

  • Immigration is uncontrolled...  well as 2/3s of it is from outside the EU, I'm going to assume that we don't actually want to control it

  • Leaving a 500m person single market is insanely stupid - we joined for a reason.  We don't make that much that people want anymore and haven't done since before I was born.  We live and die mostly on services trading and niche products.  The City will lose the option for Euro trading (honestly, it will, the Germans already tried to take it away from them and failed because of, well, the EU) and with it a huge amount of money.  I sold services in Europe before the bulk of the Maastricht Treaty came into force and trying to get people work in Europe was almost impossible, nobody wants to go back to that even if they think they do - my boss ended up pre-Lisbon dealing with the immigration service over 4 Polish software engineers coming to do a couple of weeks at a client site because the immigration officers said they were coming to work and wouldn't let them in... that's barely a decade ago

  • Millions of Brits live and work in Europe and millions of them live in Britain - throwing all of those into limbo is going to be bad

  • There are lots of things that have made life easier and better for everybody - roaming charges on phones, inter-bank transfer rules and restrictions on fees, rights to take holiday and so much more have come about because of the EU - if you think Michael Gove cares about such things I have a bridge for you...

  • Where will borders be?  In Northern Ireland?  In France?  We simply don't know - the ironic thing, especially with the border with France is that by leaving the EU we might actually make things worse for East Kent as the French might stop policing our border for us and just let migrants through

  • Finally, the economic shock will be unlike nothing we have ever experienced and I include 2008 in that

Don't do it.  Vote Remain.  I did and I stand by it.  Be proud to be British, but also be proud to be European.

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