The UK Referendum

Oh God… not more bloody propaganda! 

(With apologies to non-British readers – this is not the type of post I usually place here; it’s more overtly political. The reason I’m doing so is because the UK referendum is a significant point in Britain’s and Europe’s history; possibly a key turning point that will determine the future direction of the EU – if it survives – and have wider ramifications around the world.)

Here’s what I’ve said on Facebook:

“If you’re British you’ve probably made up your minds already, but in case not here’s why I’m voting to leave the EU – as briefly as I can make it! 

Firstly, I love Europe, and Europeans. I worked for many years for a major German company, in the course of which I travelled to most countries on the continent. My wife is half Irish; I’m one quarter Welsh; my son-in-law is a Frenchman.

However, Europe and the EU are not the same thing. In or out of the EU, we remain a major European country. We have the world’s 5th largest economy, and I believe passionately that we should leave the increasingly dysfunctional and undemocratic EU now – while we still have the chance.

We will not be isolated from the world. Our European neighbours will still trade with us, for the incontestable reason that they need our business – we’re the EU’s largest export market (source: EU help Desk).

We can still cooperate on whatever is in our interests, such as security, and we’ll be freed from EU restrictions on trading with the rest of the world. This is important because the EU’s share of world GDP is in long-term decline – from 30% in 1980 to less than 16.5% in 2015 (source: IMF).

And most vitally, we’ll be largely independent again, having taken back control of our own sovereignty, borders and money.

1. Control of our sovereignty

The EU is woefully undemocratic, with unelected bureaucrats proposing laws, rather than our own parliament.

Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, whom we did not elect and cannot vote out, has said that “There can be no democratic choice against the European Treaties.”

Lord Mandelson has said that we’re “entering a post-democratic age.”

Politicians of all parties have lied for several decades, telling us it’s all about trade – i.e. what’s now called the single market – when the real reason, enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty of 2009, is ‘Ever Closer Union’. This means that we’re being gradually subsumed into a new Superstate – in which Britain will be no longer great, but instead little more than another EU region, among dozens.

I think we’re much better than that.

(And I do not believe for one minute the claims following Cameron’s recent farcical non-agreement on reform that we could remain uninvolved in ‘Ever Closer Union’ – that we have an exemption that will be anything other than temporary. As Angela Merkel says, revealingly, “It’s alright to go at different speeds” – carrying the obvious inference that the destination is the same.

Already, as Jeremy Paxman recently showed, EU law has primacy over British law – how the hell did that happen without our consent?

For these reasons I strongly believe that we must take back control – returning legal powers from the unelected officials in Brussels and Strasbourg to our own elected MP’s and parliament in London.

As Lincoln said:  “Government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

2. Control of our borders

I love the different cultures and national identities within Europe, and I believe immigrants from the EU, and elsewhere, are beneficial, make a valuable contribution, and enrich us in very many ways.

However, under EU freedom of movement rules we have no control over our borders – however much Cameron may insist we have. Stamping passports at Dover is not control, and we’ve never been asked if we agree to unlimited numbers of new arrivals. It’s a ludicrous and in my view ultimately socially divisive way to run a country.

(I’d invite anyone who thinks it’s a good idea having no control over numbers, and also qualifications, to try throwing a party at home and posting an open invitation on Facebook!)

It should be in our power to decide how many people we admit, and from where.

A controlled number of invited newcomers can be welcomed, assimilated and, critically, helped to integrate. That’s surely a win win situation!

And of course we’ll still be welcome in European countries, because they need our tourist dollars.

3. Control of our money

Amongst all the hot air, it’s generally agreed that the gross cost to us of EU membership is about £350 million pounds a week – reduced to about half that figure by our rebate, and what we get back in grants with strings attached – i.e. the EU has a big say in how the money’s spent.

I think we should decide how we spend all this money, be it on the NHS, as some have suggested, or whatever else we choose. It really is none of Jean-Claude Juncker’s business how my taxes are spent!

I’ll fully respect your decision, if, astonishingly, it differs from mine, but I’ll be chuffed to bits if you join me in deciding to vote leave from the EU, and thereby regain control of our borders, our trade, our laws, our money, our democracy, our independence.

Let’s be proud of our country, and believe in Great Britain’s place in the modern world.”