Brexit is putting me off this whole ‘will of the people’ idea

Words count, which is precisely why free speech is so precious. But to be a citizen is to be vigilant and resilient – to understand the power of language and the cunning with which it is used. It is also to be what the PM calls a “doubter”, a sceptic in the face of certainty, a jealous guardian of the right to change one’s mind. The next time you hear someone claiming to speak for “the people” – and you will – be sure to count the democratic silver.

Source: Brexit is putting me off this whole ‘will of the people’ idea | Matthew d’Ancona

Why the EU is an exemplar of democracy, not anti-democratic

Sadly, despite what anti-European campaigners have over-promised, Brexit means less transparency, less influence and less effective decision making on bilateral and multilateral agreements.  It doesn’t increase our sovereignty, it decreases it. Theresa May’s oft repeated insistence that she will not provide a running commentary on negotiations significantly reduces the sovereignty of our Parliament.  That democratically elected MPs are being denied the opportunity to hold the government to account over these negotiations is not just the thin end of the wedge.  It is a poor precedent for less effective negotiations and a less democratic process which will inevitably lead to lower quality agreements that we cannot be sure will be enforced equitably.

Unlock Democracy, 02 Nov 2017

David Davis warns EU not to put ‘politics above prosperity’ in Brexit talks

David Davis, the Brexit secretary, has warned Germany and other European nations not to “put politics above prosperity” as they negotiate the UK’s split from the EU.

The Guardian

Fucking hypocrite!

Russia used hundreds of fake accounts to tweet about Brexit, data shows

Researchers discover that accounts run from troll farm in St Petersburg tried to sow discord between Britons

Source: Russia used hundreds of fake accounts to tweet about Brexit, data shows

More indications that Brexit is not a good thing for the UK.

EU migrants give more than they take

So, why would Britain want to put a put a ‘brake’ on the numbers of citizens from the rest of the EU coming here, resulting in a drastic reduction in the huge benefits they bring to our country?

I asked the same question during last year’s referendum campaign on the James O’Brien LBC radio phone-in programme.

Mr James O’B responded:

“You leave me only with xenophobia and mild racism as the only motivation for the ‘Leave’ campaign…”

Is that right? Some Britons would prefer to forego the benefits that migrants bring to Britain because… they don’t like foreigners?

If so, that’s a high price the country will have to pay for the disease known as xenophobia.

How Brexit Was Engineered By Foreign Billionaires To Bring About Economic Chaos – For Profit

EUReferedum states in its overall aims for a post-Brexit Britain that: “Within the United Kingdom, our vision is for a government respectful of its people who will take on greater participation and control of their affairs at local and national level. Our vision fosters the responsibility of a sovereign people as the core of true democracy.”

On its current trajectory, Brexit is not going to deliver any of those noble outcomes, unless of course, you happen to be a foreign billionaire with significant interests in the game.

Source: How Brexit Was Engineered By Foreign Billionaires To Bring About Economic Chaos – For Profit – TruePublica

The Six Tribes of Brexit

This article in the FT, The six tribes of Brexit revealed, is behind a paywall. It describes the results of an Ipsos MORI poll of 4,000 voters carried out during 2016. It distinguishes six groups of people: three Leaver and three Remainer. Like all analyses of this type, not everyone fits neatly into one of the groups and not everyone in each group is exactly the same.

In my summary, I have just picked out the key characteristics of each group as bullet points, but remember labels like “older” and “left school at 16” mean “more likely to be older” and “more likely to have left school at 16 than the national average”.

‘British values’ Leavers (10% of population)

  • older
  • retired
  • lean heavily towards UKIP or Tories
  • live away from cities
  • think immigration is bad, but not experienced its effects first-hand
  • “things used to be better”

Working-class Leavers (15%)

  • youngest Leave group, half under 45
  • live in social housing
  • live in north of England
  • live in non-rural areas
  • economically deprived

Moderate Leavers (18%)

  • more rural than working-class Leavers
  • least likely to vote UKIP among Leavers
  • still anti-immigration
  • left school at 16

Disengaged Remainers (16%)

  • similar to working-class Leavers, but less likely to vote Labour
  • Least educated among Remainers
  • Least likely to vote
  • live in London
  • low anti-immigration sentiment

Young, urban Remainers (11%)

  • Youngest Remainers
  • renters
  • highest share of students in group
  • grown up in multi-cultural Britain
  • militantly Labour and pro-immigration

Older, liberal Remainers (15%)

This is me.

  • older homeowners
  • university educated
  • work in highly paid and skilled jobs
  • live in SE and Midlands
  • Labour or Liberal Democrat supporter
  • positive attitudes towards immigration




Why We Should Remain in the EU 2

I recently posted a response, Why We Should Remain in the EU,  as part of an ongoing debate with some Faceback Leavers. I was challenged to provide evidence for this statement:

More and more companies are announcing plans to shift their base from the UK. European agencies will have to move from the UK, costing jobs and auxiliary benefits such as revenue from visitors to those agencies.

So here are some links about companies planning to move some of their operations and staff from the UK:

EasyJet picks Austrian base for post-Brexit plan

Jobs Lost to Brexit ‘Impossible’ to Get Back, Bank Chief Says

Brexit: More than two million UK employees work for companies that are reliant on investment from the EU

Airbus may look beyond UK unless Brexit demands met – Sunday Times

Brexit: Banks planning to move 9,000 jobs from Britain to mainland Europe

JP Morgan to buy Dublin office block with up to 500 jobs on way

Nestlé’s Poland move: ‘first of many Brexit transfers’

Deutsche Bank’s Matherat Says 4,000 U.K. Jobs at Risk in Brexit

Diageo to axe more than 100 Scots jobs ‘because of Brexit’

BREXIT PUNISHMENT: Brussels to strip UK of banking and medicine agencies

Brexit: 40% of US firms with British offices are considering relocating to the EU

BMW’s German chairman warns car firm’s new electric Mini might NOT be built in UK without post-Brexit free trade deal

Jobs to go as major employer confirms Peterborough factory and warehouse will close

Lloyd’s of London firm moves European base to Dublin over Brexit

10,000 UK finance jobs affected in Brexit’s first wave

BofA Seeks Paris Office for Post-Brexit Trading Space

Bank of Taiwan to set up Frankfurt office over Brexit

Credit Agricole is moving trading jobs out of London this weekend

Lloyd’s of London firm moves European base to Dublin over Brexit

To stop Brexit we need to change public opinion; here’s how

Others think that it is undemocratic to keep fighting Brexit now the people have spoken. We must slay this canard once and for all. In a democracy, people are free to speak their minds. They are also free to change their minds. One person, one vote, one time isn’t democracy: it’s how dictators keep power.

Source: InFacts To stop Brexit we need to change public opinion; here’s how – InFacts

Why We Should Remain in the EU

Why we should remain a member of the EU

This post has been written in response to a Facebook argument with a couple of Leavers. I have chosen to post my response here so I can amend and polish it more easily than on Facebook.

These remarks are not completely organised and I am not taking the time to provide sources (from some of which I have plagiarised the occasional phrase) though I may add them later. I also touch on some of the Leaver arguments. Although they do not constitute reasons to remain, the invalidity of many of those arguments weakens any case for leaving.

The Common Market/EEC/EU has been instrumental in keeping peace and spreading democracy within Europe for the last 70 years. This was recognised by the award of the Nobel Peace Prize. Destabilisation of the EU is not something I wish to see; it seems that some like Putin would be happy for this to happen. It does seem that the threat of Brexit has strengthened the belief of other member countries in the EU.

Membership of the EU improves our political influence by being an important member of the world’s largest single market. There are two military powers in Europe; being inside the EU means we can leverage our power more than being outside. The UK is one of the leading powers in one of the most important organisations on the planet.

Barack Obama: “[Having the UK in the European Union] gives us much greater confidence about the strength of the transatlantic union and is part of the cornerstone of institutions built after [the] second world war that has made the world safer and more prosperous.”

Our participation in EU organisations like Europol increases our security.

Membership of the EU has improved the health of the UK economy from the sick man of Europe to one of the strongest. This has translated to improved standards of living for most people.

The UK benefits from third party countries establishing bases in the UK as a gateway to the Single Market. Increased Foreign Direct Investment is also a consequence of our membership.

The economy will be damaged should we leave the EU. The immediate fall in sterling after the referendum result indicates that the “market” doesn’t think it’s a good idea. The effect of this is impacting consumers as inflation rises. More and more companies are announcing plans to shift their base from the UK. European agencies will have to move from the UK, costing jobs and auxiliary benefits such as revenue from visitors to those agencies.

To be clear: what is meant by damage is that in years to come the economy will be smaller should we leave the EU than it will be should we stay—not smaller than it is now. Growth will be slower, say the great majority of informed commentators. The notable economist exception is Patrick Minford, but his methodology is regarded as suspect.

Membership of the EU improves trade by removing barriers and ensuring that all goods are produced to the same minimum standards. The EU has free trade or other preferential agreements with over 100 countries that are in force or require only final formalities. The EU is negotiating trade agreements with countries including Japan, India, Mercosur (which includes Brazil and Argentina), Australia and New Zealand. What’s left? The US, China and Russia. The bargaining power of the UK alone in attempting to make bilateral agreements will be much less than that of the EU.

It also not true that countries will be lining up to do trade deals with us. Several countries have already made it clear that their priority would be a deal with the EU before the UK.

Being a member of the EU benefits our science community by allowing access for the greatest minds in Europe to work in our universities easily.

Being a member of the EU allows businesses to attract from a wide pool of talent. The evidence on the impact of workers coming to the UK under freedom of movement is overwhelmingly that they have a positive impact on the economy. They do not take jobs from UK workers. They do not drive down the wages of UK workers. There is some evidence that the wages of the lower earners among foreign workers are depressed slightly by the inflow of foreign workers.

Membership of the EU improves our culture by widening diversity and giving ready access for our artists to alternate culture and ideas.

The environment, consumers and workers have benefitted from the regulations and standards introduced across the EU. And for businesses: if you can sell it legally in the UK, you can sell it anywhere in the EU.

Many of these protections would be under threat if we leave the EU. Gove has already shown an inclination to actions that would harm the environment. So-called free traders argue that the UK should unilaterally remove tariffs, which would have a devastating impact on what remains of UK manufacturing.

Roaming charges for mobile phones is a good example of a benefit that accrues to millions of us travelling around the EU. EU standards for energy efficiency are saving us all money. Of course, some people don’t pay attention, or pay too much attention to the wrong sources (like The Mail) and think that proposals for standards on vacuum cleaners means we have to rush out a buy the most powerful one available. The EU proposal clearly states new cleaners must be equally efficient as cleaning while using less electricity. This is just another euromyth like bendy bananas and busty barmaids.

“Too much EU regulation?” Well, there are, at least, 79 people dead from the Grenfell fire caused by cladding that it would have been illegal to use in Germany.

Membership of the EU means that EU citizens can live, work and travel anywhere in member countries without visas. Note that this does not mean that citizens from other countries can come to the UK permanently to look for work or live off benefits. Anyone can come to the UK and work if they have a job. Anyone can come and look for work for up to three months. Anyone wanting to come for more than three months must have the means to support themselves. Otherwise they have to go home. Immigrants from outside the EU to other EU countries do not have the right to travel to the UK.

While on that topic: “uncontrolled immigration” is a charge for which the EU is made the scapegoat by Leavers. More bollocks! Citizens of new member states do not automatically gain the right to freedom of movement. There is a seven-year cap that Tony Blair chose not to apply in the case of countries like Poland. The EU had rules to manage the issue, but Bambi chose not to take advantage. These same rules would apply to any new members.

Slightly more people come to the UK from outside the EU. Our inability to control this is not the fault of the EU.

EU membership also means access to emergency healthcare when we are travelling in member states.

Globalisation is not the fault of the EU. It does have the clout to stand up to multinationals. Proposed regulations are about corporate taxation are the reason that some rich bastards supported the Leave campaign. The EU does not listen to people like Rupert Murdoch unlike some in the British government.

“We give the EU £350 million a week.” Most sensible people know that this was a flat out lie despite BoJo doing a Trump and doubling down on the lie. But relatively speaking, UK membership of the EU doesn’t cost that much. The UK’s net contribution to the EU budget is around 0.4% of GDP. The economy has benefitted by much more than that.

I read and hear many people arguing that the UK will negotiate agreements once outside the EU. Why should we need to do that when these agreements and treaties are already in place? The Economist as estimated that 759 treaties and agreements will lapse if we leave. How much this will cost us is probably unquantifiable, but I am sure the amount will not be trivial. We do not have the resources to renegotiate those agreements in any reasonable timescale. Being a member of the EU hasn’t stopped Germany exporting much more than the UK to the rest of the world. And being a member hasn’t stopped the UK from making huge trade deals with China.

The EU is not perfect, but UK membership has helped improve it, e.g., CAP takes much less of the budget than previously.

There are allegations made by Brexiters that are simply not true. For example, that the auditors haven’t signed off accounts; that Turkey is going to join and flood Europe with workers under free movement of labour; that the EU is going to have its own army. These charges are either not true or the facts misrepresented.

“We voted to join a common market not a political union.” In 1967, Harold Wilson gave a speech that made it clear there were political implications in joining.

The accusation that the EU is undemocratic is a standard Brexiter canard.

Europe can’t make any laws it likes. It can only act in areas that the 28 states have delegated to the EU. These are areas where it makes sense to work together sometimes, such as business, the environment and science. And it is not the European Commission that actually makes laws. EU commissioners are appointed by democratically elected national governments and the Commission is answerable to the European Parliament. The EU is not run by the unelected eurocrats of the commission that we hear all the time. It is actually run by the 28 governments working together in the council together with the European Parliament. Junckers can say what he likes, but unless 28 (or 27) national governments agree, it ain’t gonna happen.

“Take back control of our borders!” We never lost control of our borders. Everyone coming into the UK had their passport checked and the UKBA has the power to refuse entry to EU citizens who meet certain negative criteria. Any failure to control illegal immigration cannot be laid at the feet of the EU.

Federalism is a dirty word for Leavers. The world is connected: there are tiny bits within small bits within slightly bigger bits and so on. Fucking get used to it. Apart from the EU, the UK is a member of multiple international and global organisations up to and including the United Nations. These all confer certain rights and obligations; the world runs on compromise. We are all connected and we need to recognise the fact that and work with it. The UK will have more influence inside the UK than out. Notwithstanding that, the UK is not committed to join a federal Europe if we stay in. We weren’t even before David Cameron’s agreement last year.

“”You lost, shut up!”

“If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy.” David Davis, MP.

We are perfectly entitled to continue our opposition to Brexit. If this Government is stupid enough to go through with Brexit because, you know, “the will of the people” then we will be campaigning to rejoin as soon as possible. The 26% of UK citizens who voted leave want to strip the rights and benefits of EU membership from the rest of us based on the result of a referendum that was essentially a giant opinion poll because the result is not legally binding. It is a disgrace that the majority of MPs who supported Remain did not have the guts to do their job in a parliamentary democracy to look after the well-being of their constituents and the country by voting against the triggering of Article 50.

We Remainers think it is best for the UK to stay in the EU. We do not want the country to run off the edge of a cliff like a bunch of lemmings. Yes, I know that lemmings don’t commit mass suicide. Do you know why? They listened to the 48%.