The EU referendum [EUR] campaign would be a pantomime if it were not for the sinister overtones of racism in the guise of immigration. We must pause and think very carefully about the agendas of those who wanted the EUR and why they want to leave1. The reasons are of paramount importance if we are going to unsettle an issue for a generation. If the reasons of the cast of characters are not enough to help you make your decision, then perhaps the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will. After continually warring for 1,000 years, Europe has been at peace for just 70 years, and that has a lot to do with countries coming together.
The Big Bad Wolf
David Cameron wants to remain in the EU but agreed to hold the EU referendum from expediency. His Tory party was haemorrhaging votes to Ukip, who ran on an anti-migrant/European ticket in the 2015 elections. Cameron also faced a large Eurosceptic contingent in his party. The EUR was the compromise to win the election.
For him to win the election he put the status quo at risk for a situation that was unimaginable. There were no plans to leave the EU. He has now given the unimaginable credence as if Leave is a real political option. In the absence of political policy, immigration becomes the hook. This is not responsible leadership.
The government and the media have failed to inform the electorate correctly. Eurobarometer surveys have found that British citizens perform the poorest when responding to factual questions on the EU, but we are going to cast, perhaps, the most crucial vote for years!
Boris Johnson wants to be the PM, and he is nothing if not an opportunist. He is said to have told his friend, Cameron, that he would back Remain. However, should Cameron lose the EUR his resignation is likely. So Boris is in the Leave camp. The leader of the official Vote Leave Campaign is not Boris, but I forgive you for thinking he was as he pops up everywhere. German-born Gisela Stuart is the Chair.
Boris is keen to scrap the Social Chapter: it is a protocol which sets out broad social policy objectives, on improving living and working conditions. Examples include maximum hours for a working week and maternity benefits. Boris says the Social Chapter makes the British labour market inflexible.
Nigel Farage like Cameron and Johnson is a privileged public schoolboy and former commodities trader. Son of migrant parents and married to an immigrant, Nigel is working hard to stop everybody else enjoying such freedoms.
Nigel has run a negative campaign. He talks about ‘taking down the Establishment’ positioning himself as standing up against the predatory elite. In whipping up, anti-democratic sentiment, populist indignation is replacing democracy. These tactics are unhealthy and have overshadowed economic and intellectual debate. In the furore, his supporters forget he is a member of the Establishment.
He has created a climate of fear around EU immigration that even minority groups are on his side. However, the majority of immigrants in the UK (184,000) are from outside the EU. A Leave victory puts those very minorities at risk, but many are busy being made to be angry at EU migrants for Cameron’s government austerity cutbacks.
Leaving secures Nigel’s right-wing politics and probably that seat in Parliament that he has pursued for years. As he says ‘This referendum could realign politics. I think this could change British politics fundamentally.’
He then can turn his attention to the ‘others’…after all, Enoch Powell is his political hero.
Routinely disrespected by Labour MP’s, the Tories and the media, Jeremy Corbyn has been conspicuous by his absence. ‘If Labour stays at home, Britain leaves.’ With everything to lose, Remain politicians are beating a path to his door. Remain for Jeremy would have to include better employee protection. Corbyn’s influence could decide the EU referendum.
The Three Bears
Migrants who come to the UK are young and fit so are not a burden on the NHS. They represent one in five of the carers looking after our ageing population. Migrants have lifted the economy by £20 billion between 2001 – 2011: putting in more than they take out.
Leave campaigners hawk the ambitious idea of free and international trade. The international tariff to sell fruit, for example, is 25%. Talk about more trade with the Commonwealth is exaggerated. We trade more with Ireland than with all 53 Commonwealth countries put together. On the other hand, we export 44% of our gross national products to the tariff-free EU. The EU exports 8% to the UK.
The EU affords us protections, for example, equal pay for part-time, fixed-term and agency workers. Such laws do not interfere with sovereignty as is suggested. The UK has opted out of such agreements as Schengen Area passort free travel. It is convenient to ignore; all European legislation is debated and approved by elected representatives from each member country. Further, because the European Parliament uses proportional representation it, is more democratically representative than our First Past The Post system that provides absolute power to the party with 37% of the popular vote.
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