So tomorrow the UK votes on whether it leaves or remains in the EU?
Not being an economist, my eyes glaze over with stupor when experts talk about the financial impact of such a move. I haven’t a clue.
But my instinct tells me that a remain vote would be wiser.
The argument that Brussels is imposing unnecessary rules and regulations on Britain probably has validity – then again Switzerland and Norway are not EU member states but are bound by a whole raft of EU laws and regulations, to which they have no influence in drafting. Changing rules from within makes a lot more sense than throwing a tantrum outside and being ignored, yet still being obliged to abide by all the rules. This just seems logical.
The notion that the EU is not democratically accountable to the population, is another point that definitely has some validity. However like all western nations, the EU government (and the British government and Irish government) are running economies, but have abandoned the irritating idea that they are running societies, where children like Beyoncé don’t have to live in a B&B. It’s a dog eat dog world where the elite control the wealth, and the unemployed and vulnerable and low paid and immigrants – especially them – are blamed for all economic injustices. I can’t envisage massive wealth redistribution that in a Brexited Britain run by Tories or UKIP or Labour.
Now I suppose I should really clarify what I am referring to when I speak of Britain – I mean England – the most densely populated, wealthiest and most powerful country of these islands. A country steeped in justifiable respect and honour for its past, and a place of incredible beauty. I love England – it seems so polite and well mannered and I have some very good friends from there. And the English accent is so very sexy. When I hear it I feel traitorous towards Ireland, because if the owner of said accent is attractive I find myself thinking ‘Would you like to oppress me, mister?’
However this Brexit campaign has revealed some very ugly fault-lines in the country – a seemingly, nasty, mean-spirited, inward looking, island mentality. A country that seems to have trouble adjusting to the fact that it no longer straddles the earth as an all conquering superpower. A country unprepared to accept that in 2016, the economic and military ‘glory days’ of yore have passed.
The romantic image of the colonial past has never been shared by the colonized, of course – ask an Irish person or an indigenous Australian, or a Palestinian or a Native American or a South African how they view the British Empire, and you may get an answer not referencing high tea and crumpets and jolly hockey sticks.
The press coverage of the referendum has been shocking, with its lazy talk of ‘floods’ of immigrants who are arriving to scrounge off the dole and the NHS. The fact that the EU immigrants are young, educated and hardworking is rarely referenced. Nor is the fact that 2,200,000 Britons are living in the EU – and the age profile of these people tends to be a lot older than the Poles in London or the Spanish in Manchester. Let’s just hope Spain doesn’t decide to repatriate the half million retirees availing of the Spanish health service.
Those fleeing war in Syria are regarded as ISIS supporting terrorists rather than desperate people fleeing unimaginable suffering. And if the EU holds any responsibility for the situation in Syria then Britain certainly played its part.
The rhetoric and language being used towards these people is appalling and shameful and borderline fascist. And it’s very, very ugly. That rancid little gimp Nigel Farage looks like he’s got nasty things stored in his dungeon. He’s the British Donald Trump, but probably more dangerous for being less buffoonish.
My British friends – most of whom I met as immigrants in Holland – are all better than that. And they deserve better than that for their country.
So I hope Britain votes to remain. EU reform is necessary – that seems a given. But to abandon the institution that was formed to prevent war in Europe and has largely succeeded in that aim seems very short sighted and petty.
And if Britain brexits – well judging by the utter poison and xenophobia shown during the campaign, I think it’s fair to say that the EU won’t be obliged to show any goodwill in the exit negotiations.