Why I’m voting Remain

Since I started this blog 9 years ago, this is only the second time I have taken an overtly political stance, the first time being over the Scottish referendum. This is unquestionably the most important vote in my lifetime (at least, so far). As you won’t be surprised to learn, I am voting to stay in the EU. Here’s why.

Leaving the EU will damage the economy

Leave’s economic arguments were completely destroyed weeks ago. Their claim that the EU costs Britain £350m a week was taken apart by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and their continued use of it earned them a rebuke from the Treasury Select Committee and strong criticism from the UK Statistics Authority. The £100k net contribution would be obliterated by the post-Brexit economic slowdown and the resulting loss of tax revenues. Even the most optimistic scenario would see the government having to increase borrowing or find £40 billion a year in taxes or spending cuts. There is an unprecedented level of agreement among economists about this. Almost all of them believe Brexit would be bad for Britain’s economy and for the rest of the world’s too. As Paul Johnson said, economists are quite literally losing sleep over this. They only disagree about whether it would be horrendous or merely unpleasant. As for the claim that £33 billion could be saved by getting rid of EU regulation, that is just downright dangerous.

The UK should be a leader in the world 

If all your friends are warning you against doing something it is a good idea to stop and reflect. Brexit advocates insist that the UK’s status would not be diminished outside the EU but if all the people we need to influence are telling us that we will lose influence, then we will lose influence. It won’t be easy to walk tall on the world stage if leaders and opinion formers in every other country think we have taken leave of our senses. The UK, with its historic links to the Commonwealth and the USA, forms a bridge between these countries and the EU. That is one of the reasons why Britain counts for so much in the world. Why would we want to jeopardise that just because we are a bit cross about a few regulations? Last night, our friends lit up their buildings with our flag. They want us to stay because they can see what is at stake. We would all be poorer if Britain stormed off into not-so-splendid isolation.

Leaving the EU will probably break up the UK

Leaving the EU increases the likelihood of the UK breaking up. It will almost certainly lead to renewed calls for Scottish independence. Assuming we can keep Wales and Northern Ireland on side, the country will then take on its 16th century shape. It will give the beginning and end of Great Britain’s story a symmetry that will be pleasing to historians. It is curious that those who shout loudly about loving their country and who ostentatiously wrap themselves in the Union Jack may be about to take a decision that ends Britain’s 400 year history. They keep saying they want their country back but I wasn’t aware we had lost it in the first place. If we vote to leave, though, there is a good chance that we will.

The EU is, on the whole, a Good Thing

Sure, it might have some irritating regulations and it can appear to be slow and cumbersome but, on the whole, it is an incredible achievement. And not just because we can trade with and work in 27 other countries. The EU didn’t win the Cold War but it certainly won the peace afterwards. When I was born, much of Europe was under some form of dictatorship. Communism held sway in eastern Europe while Greece, Spain and Portugal were fascist autocracies. For a time after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it looked as though some countries might just swap one form of authoritarian rule for another. The EU prevented that. By insisting on governmental and human rights reforms as the price of membership it ensured that the newly liberated countries became democracies. The free and democratic Europe we have today is largely a creation of the EU. We should be proud of that.

Brexit is a once and for all decision…

It is what Jeff Bezos would call a Type 1 decision; one that is irreversible. Like a door with a handle on only one side, we can go through but we can’t get back again when it slams behind us. To persuade people to go through a one-way door you need a really compelling story. The Leave campaign haven’t given us one. They have come nowhere near. Leaving the EU would be taking a massive gamble for no discernible payoff. As Martin Lewis says, if you look at it as a risk management decision,  “A vote for Brexit is unquestionably economically riskier than a vote to remain.”

…whereas staying in is not

If we decide to stay in, we can always come out at a later date. It is extremely unlikely that any of the Leave campaign’s paranoid fantasies will actually come true. There will probably never be a European army and, even if there is, Britain won’t be forced to participate. Further integration, at least for those outside the Euro, is looking unlikely too. I’m not even convinced that there will be any new members admitted in the near future. Turkey’s accession is a long way off. But let’s suppose some of these things were to happen and they changed the situation so much that Britain felt its position was no longer tenable. We could have another referendum (or not) and just leave. For all the huffing about sovereignty, the UK is still a sovereign state. The very fact that we are having a referendum  is proof of that. Leave’s claims about sovereignty have been dismissed as dishonesty on an industrial scale by constitutional law professor Michael Dougan. Even if we vote to stay in today, we can still leave at some point in the future. Nothing is going to change that.

Immigration is a red herring

This has been Leave’s trump card but, in a TV debate earlier this week, Frances O’Grady said, “The Leave campaign are selling people a big con.” She’s right. They have been telling people that leaving the EU would reduce immigration while, at the same time, promising black and Asian voters that it would mean more of their relatives would be able to come to Britain. They can’t have it both ways. The truth is that Britain is an international economy containing one of the world’s global cities. Large multinationals base many of their staff here. This country has the second highest number of intra-company transfers in the world, accounting for 60,000 arrivals last year. For an economy like ours, immigration is a feature, not a bug. Restricting immigration from the EU would either just increase numbers from elsewhere or choke off the labour supply to the point where companies stared taking their jobs overseas. Every developed economy has high levels of immigration. Compared to the rest of the OECD, the UK’s numbers are not extraordinary. The only way this country could get immigration below 100,000 would be to become such an economic basket-case that no-one wanted to come here. That would be the case whether or not we were inside the EU.

So today, I’m off to vote Remain. In fact I’m doing more than that. I will be spending today helping to get the vote out. Leaving the EU would be a senseless and catastrophic act of self-harm. I’m going to do what I can to stop that happening.

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18 Responses to Why I’m voting Remain

  1. Chris Webb says:

    Bang on the money – as ever !

  2. Patricia Leighton says:

    Good, concise and sensible reasons. Let’s hope these arguments will prevail against the lies, distortions and pure waffle of the OUTERS.

  3. There are many silly people who think the EU can be repaired – yet the EU continue on the same course.

    They still want to allow incompatible countries to join and have overall control of supposedly democratic countries.

    I am voting to leave for the future of our grandchildren – our children already have had their lives made worse for them.

    I am amazed we have more than 5% of the population voting to stay who cannot see the problems getting worse in the EU or that us remaining makes our problems worse.

    BTW: I never blame immigrants who are only doing what many of us would do (go to better country) – or say they caused the problems – for those that slur & misrepresent me.

    We have made our kids lose out being in the EU, as firms and government would rather take skilled workers from a vast supply of immigrants than train British young adults.

    The NHS lied about Brits not wanting to nurse and are taking trained nurses from poorer countries (inside & out of EU), whilst turning down tens of thousands of young Brits.

    https://www.google.com/search?num=50&safe=off&q=80%2C000+UK+students+are+told+they+can%27t+train+as+a+nurse&oq=80%2C000+UK+students+are+told+they+can%27t+train+as+a+nurse

    The EU is an anti-democratic scam – allowing poorer incompatible countries to join. We were never going to flood Poland – though many of our jobs have gone there.

    Cameron wants Turkey to join, the latest March 2016, and the EU are over a barrel. Even if they do not join soon, they all want it…

    https://www.google.com/search?q=EU-Turkey+statement%2C+18+March+2016

    This refugee problem is tiny to what is to come – the EU cannot cope with a small crisis.

    https://www.google.com/search?num=50&safe=off&q=world+overpopulation&oq=world+overpopulation

    People only have to look at what is happening: skilled & semi-skilled Brit wages held down – less housing & jobs available to Brits – Pension Pyramid Scam (immigrants get old too) – worsening food/ water/ energy security – more crimes – greater congestion – more NHS overstretch… The financial gain is fiddled as it does not include all costs e.g. crime.

    Even if we could built 100,000 homes every year it still would not be enough for 300,000+ extra immigration – also we know young Brits cannot get social housing any more.

    The Tories will likely take advantage – but they can be voted out. Even if half the Remainians scare-mongering is true – we have to leave.

  4. Person_XYZ says:

    That is comprehensive. The major question is why 10% of people want to leave the EU. Haven’t you noticed how similar the Scottish independence and Leave slogans are? ‘Project Fear’ is an insidious buzz phrase that invites people to stop thinking about problems with a plan. With regards an independent Scotland, it would now have an enormous projected deficit after the oil revenue predictions in the White Paper proved very erroneous indeed. In fairness, at least there was a White Paper. There is no equivalent for Leave. It’s just garbage about ‘£350m a week’.

  5. Good on you Rick. Here’s hoping for a strong remain vote

  6. Dipper says:

    I disagree:
    – over time the economy is an expression of our culture. the UK out of Europe energetically engaging the world will be a stronger economy than one tied to a sinking dysfunctional EU ship.
    – the UK will have a bigger say in the world outside the EU than within it. Within the EU we will have a voice equivalent to Latvia, Estonia, Greece, Malta ….
    – the possible break-up of the UK if the UK leaves is just one of the “abusive relationship” arguments deployed for staying in the EU. We can’t leave because they will beat us up.
    -” the EU is a good thing”. The wrong question is being asked. The question should be whether the EU is a better thing than the alternative, which is a federation of free states working together. I don’t think it is – it is undemocratic, insular, and tied to disastrous policies.
    – Brexit is a once and for all decision. Well so is voting to stay in. One of the main arguments against leaving is the sheer difficulty of doing it. If we vote to stay that will only get worse. If we vote to remain, the only way we will ever leave is if the EU breaks up.
    – Immigration is not a red herring. It is symptomatic of what the EU has in store for us. To be clear, what all Brexiters believe is that UK immigration policy should be decided by the UK government, and what all Remainers believe is that UK immigration policy should be handed down to us by the EU.

    • gunnerbear says:

      “– Immigration is not a red herring. It is symptomatic of what the EU has in store for us. To be clear, what all Brexiters believe is that UK immigration policy should be decided by the UK government, and what all Remainers believe is that UK immigration policy should be handed down to us by the EU.”

      Well said…the EU is beyond reform… and once those rapists in Cologne get an EU passport we won’t be able to keep ’em out.

  7. Person_XYZ says:

    “– the possible break-up of the UK if the UK leaves is just one of the “abusive relationship” arguments deployed for staying in the EU. We can’t leave because they will beat us up.”

    It’s a plausible outcome, like it or not. I realise you are frustrated with that fact, but there you are. As to the more general ‘abusive relationship’ argument, if we choose to leave, other states – to be precise, other sovereign states – will have to recalibrate their relationship with us. If the UK imposes costs on other sovereign states, they may choose not to be very helpful towards us. Why should they? More importantly, what right do we have to tell other sovereign states what to do?

    • Dipper says:

      @ Person_XYZ. Yes leaving has its risks. But think of your own life – have you always avoided risk at every opportunity? Or do you sometimes accept the risk that nearly always comes with the opportunity to achieve something worthwhile? If we keep avoiding risks we will continue to be diminished as a country, lacking confidence and the wisdom of experience.

      Other states may choose not to be helpful towards us, but that’s unlikely. They would be cutting off their noses to spite their faces. Many of the anti-leave comments (e.g. intelligence sharing, trade co-operation etc) boil down to “if nations do stupid things then there will be bad consequences”. Well, don’t do stupid things then.

      • Person_XYZ says:

        “Many of the anti-leave comments (e.g. intelligence sharing, trade co-operation etc) boil down to “if nations do stupid things then there will be bad consequences”. Well, don’t do stupid things then.”

        I couldn’t have put that better myself.

  8. Ademola says:

    can i get a source for the 60,000 number. I’d like to use it

  9. gunnerbear says:

    ” They keep saying they want their country back but I wasn’t aware we had lost it in the first place. If we vote to leave, though, there is a good chance that we will.”

    So be it…if Scotland votes to remain and England votes out….time the English got a vote on whether we want to keep sending cash to the money soak that is Scotland…..

    • Dipper says:

      gunnerbear – I feel your pain, but all states have permanent fiscal transfers within them. A Scottish departure would be very bad for the UK as a whole; that really would diminish England in the eyes of the rest of the world, and we would spend a lot of our time squaring our position against Scotland rather than engaging with the world.

      Anyway, we are at the start of a process of negotiation, and there may be many more surprises along the way. I think the SNP will talk a good story but sit tight to see how things develop,

  10. gunnerbear says:

    ” This country has the second highest number of intra-company transfers in the world, accounting for 60,000 arrivals last year.”

    Which is a disgrace and allows business to ship in cheap workers to undercut UK ones…

  11. SmarterThanYourAverageBear says:

    Given the rise in popularity of right wing parties across Europe this could be the start of the breakup of the EU itself. If that happens then, with the increase in refugees due to war and climate change (which will be the big one), the groundwork for WWIII was laid last night.

    • Dipper says:

      … or perhaps the groundwork was laid when the EU ploughed ahead with full scale integration and creation of a super-state when it should have been more responsive to the views of its citizens?

  12. asquith says:

    I agree with your stance and I’m worried for my country, particularly about the Scottish situation. My Leave friends, whom I’ve politely disagreed with on the issue, are all staunch British unionists but let’s all admit that a lot of Tories and kippers aren’t and will be indifferent or outright glad if they no longer have to (as they see it) pay taxes to ungrateful porridge wogs.

    This is a pretty rancid attitude, but I’d like leavers here to accept that a lot of people hold it.

    The shamelessness and cynicism of EVEL and Shameron hoping he’d wing this one like he winged the last (one trait of his I’ve observedd is that he never thinks anything through).

    Vladimir Putin’s plan to divide Europe and pick off the east is that little bit closer to completion and who now is going to bring the 52% and the 48% (more than that in Scotland) together?

    • gunnerbear says:

      If the Scots accepted the majority view of the UK over BREXIT, there wouldn’t be a problem…but….no the Scots have gone in for a burst of industrial strength, Buckfast fuelled sour grapes.

      If the Scots want to leave the UK then so be it……but give ’em nothing…..because the Scots want to join the EU and a huge chunk of the EU want to f**k the UK into the ground over BREXIT.

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