Thursday, June 23, 2016

Should we stay or should we go? Or should we finally start using our heads a little more?

Well, Brexit day is today. It happens only to be 1.28am on June 23, but the excitement is due to start at 7am when the polls open for the good folk of Britain to decide whether the majority of them want to carry on taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest and to carry on enduring the humility of getting nul points for their efforts, or whether we, as a nation determined to sieze our destiny (©Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson) declare in one voice ‘Enough is enough - British songs for British people!’ OK, you all know what I am talking about.

My one reaction is merely resigned irritation. Make that total irritation that both sides, total bloody irritation with those who declare that the EU was born of the Devil and that Britain, God bless her, must cast off the shackles of Brussels and take back control of her destiny, and an equal irritation with those who declare that if we leave the EU it will be curtains for us all, OAP throughout the land will die overnight, children will be eaten by wolves and all of us, from the Queen down will find ourselves on the dole queue. To be blunt: both sides are talking complete bollocks and it is scandalous that neither side was prepared - ‘was’ because the vote will take place later on today - to spell out rationally why it believes Remaining/Leaving is rationally the best option.

Me, I shall vote remain. That’s not because I believe in ‘le projet’ or that ‘our destiny is in Europe’, but because 1) economically Britain would be mad to sever numerous trade relationships and exit a working system of trading; 2) the EU, a good and worthwhile idea however flawed the current set-up is, will crumble without Britain and her unwelcome, although very necessary input of Anglo-Saxon common sense. I am, and always shall be for as long as is necessary, in the forefront of those critics who say the EU needs fundamental root and branch reform.

To use a colourful phrase, the EU, or rather those who like to pull the strings in Brussels, have disappeared up their own arse. It is, or should be, pretty obvious to them - as Donald Tusk, the polish politician who is the current president of the European Council has plainly pointed out - that there is no universal popular clamour of an ‘ever close Europe’.

The citizens of the various member states, both those whose countries were founder members as well as the newcomers who have only recently thrown of the shackles of totalitarian control, are very happy with the EU when everything is fine and dandy and are only too happy to enjoy the fruits of whatever goodies the EU can push their way, but when push comes to shove - surprise, surprise - national interest as always takes precedence. Bugger the tainted idealism of the superannuated

 one-time Sixties hippies about establishing a European brotherhood of man, what they are interested in is how a tariff-free Europe-wide trading bloc can benefit their farmers, small and large business and peoples generally.

It should have been obvious a few years ago on what shaky foundations the EU is built when more or less a million migrants - call them refugees if you like, and some of them were - barged into Europe via Greece and Italy more or less demanding a piece of the action (and who can blame them? Not me. They, too, bleed when they are cut).

It was at that point that the various member states showed their true colours: Germany, God bless Merkel, or at least part of Germany wanted to welcome them. Hungary and Slovakia were less charitable. So much for the brotherhood of man. And Germany, too, realised that it wasn’t going to be all that easy playing the European saint. ‘Migrants’ played an unsavoury part in the propoganda put out by the ‘Brexiteers’, those who want to leave the EU. It’s true that our national health service, housing and education system is under great pressure, but that, as far as I can see, is not the fault of EU migrants coming from poorer parts of the EU looking for a better life: it is because Britain spends less on its health service as a proportion of gross domestic product than other EU countries and because we are underinvesting in schools and are simply not building the number of houses needed. Migrants are not the problem, and never were.

Anyone accustomed to bullshit and the vague sloganising of politicians should have been warned at he outset that the Brexiteer leavers were almost to a man and woman a set of nine-bob notes. When you are approached for support by folk declaring that Britain must ‘sieze its destiny’ and ‘take back control’, it is high time to count the silver and check the locks.

Sadly, those campaigning for Britain to remain were equally as dishonest: why not come clean and declare that in its present form the EU is a bloody mess, but that essentially it is a good idea and that Britain cannot just prosper better taking part in its trading arrangements, but can also, with the help of allies in the EU, tidy up its augean stables? There are plenty out there who sympathise with Britain and her complaints, but who would rather Britain blazed the trail, thank you very much, so they could follow.

Tomorrow night we shall see if I am right: that Britain will remain a member of the EU. Furthermore, if the 28 members have any nous and are prepared to use a little common sense, the next few months will see some wholesale changes in the EU and how it is run. If not, they are fucked, not least because the Brexiteers won’t take defeat lying down.

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