Friday, 3 June 2016

To Brexit or Bremain?


We have our ballot papers through for voting in the UK referendum on whether the country should remain in the EU, or say So long, and thanks for all the fish (quotas).

Back in the Motherland, both sides of the divide appear to have taken a step through the looking glass, with the most bizarre scenarios being posited whether the UK brexits or bremains. On the one hand, if the UK leaves the EU then the country will go into an economic meltdown, resulting in falling house prices (always a big worry to middle-Englanders), escalating energy costs, and the Sangatte refugee camp swamped with migrants fleeing the UK on a fleet of makeshift boats not seen since the evacuation of Dunkirk. And on the other hand, remaining in the EU would result in faceless bureaucrats having first-dibs on all newborn Brits, the Queen forced to lick Angela Merkel's boots, and the islands over-run by Transylvanian vampires allowed free access to the NHS's blood-banks. If I heard that the zombie apocalypse would ensue the decision of the vote, I would be hard-pressed to say which side I thought had announced it.

Personally, I think the EU is in principle a very good thing. For a continent that since Roman times has been ravaged by one country or another warring with the rest for whatever reason, the period of peace here these last few decades has been astonishing. Finally, european countries seem to have realised that pooling their resources, distributing wealth more equally, and coming to an agreement on collective human and worker's rights results in everyone getting along better without a covetous eye on the neighbour's ox. Yes, the EU has a lot of inefficiencies and no doubt more than its share of free-loaders and people working the system for their own greed. But, in principle I say, it is going in the right direction. I believe that only by working together can Europe show a united front in tacking terrorist and environmental issues, and face up to the rapacious free-market capitalist corporations of China and the United States.

On a more selfish level, I totally enjoy the free movement that the EU has allowed me to come and live and work in another member country. I love the fact that I can hop on a train and visit Poland, Spain, Italy, France and not need a passport. I am also pleased I can use the same currency when I travel, but that of course is not up for negotiation when the UK still have nostalgia for pre-decimalisation. If the UK leaves the EU, then our position as suddenly becoming non-EU citizens becomes rather precarious. Would we still be entitled to live here? What would happen to our pension contributions? Would we be eligible for health-care insurance?

The brexit argument seems to be that the money sent to fund the EU would be better spent at home, or that the free-movement of people across the EU results in the UK's infrastructure and job-market being inundated by a flood of economic migrants. The 'better off alone' view is I think rather an arrogant one, and not a realistic one in the face of global climate change as one example. The UK has already pissed off a lot of other EU countries with their 'special arrangement' over what they are required to contribute to the EU, and if they were to flounce off, I think the country would become the Billy No-mates of Europe.

So in conclusion, I am pretty convinced that the UK would be better off staying in the tent pissing out (as the metaphor goes), rather than on the outside pissing in. Though I am equally not convinced that leaving the EU would result in WWIII and nuclear Armageddon.

Whatever, let's hope the people of the UK make the right decision. And if they don't even vote, then they at least can't complain that they weren't asked!

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