The general sense I’m getting from Brexiters is one of extreme defensiveness. It’s a sort of nervousness, an uncomfortable insecurity in their own belief. As if they didn’t expect to ever see their dream become a reality, and now they’ve no idea what to do with it. They seem unable to accept that their single-minded belief in ‘Leave’ has consequences that require a bit more elaboration that extends beyond simply walking-out-of-your-door style leaving.
A Brexiter friend of mine wrote an article for ‘The Naked Politics‘. It gives us an insight into the minds of Eurosceptics, the bizarre reality they’ve crafted for themselves, and what seems to me to be a mixture of self-deceit and over the top – Alex Jones Infowars style – suspicion, topped with a sense of personal Patriotic gallantry, fighting an elite shadowy structure (which bizarrely seems to include British legal sovereignty when that sovereignty meant Parliament had to vote on triggering Article 50), on behalf of the rest of us oppressed folk (or ‘enemies of the people’, if you’re The Daily Mail).
“Locked in a Brussels basement for over forty years, the UK is suffering from the cognitive dissonance of an emotionally scarred hostage staring at an unlocked door, as her captor sleeps in a drunken heap: On one hand, the opportunity to live her own life on her own terms. No more (financial) punishments to keep her confidence in check. The freedom to write her own rules within sight. On the other hand, an agoraphobic trepidation. Frozen with fear, like a rabbit caught in the headlights. Will paralysis prevent the much needed “step into the dark”?”
– You’re going to have to forgive me for a bit of ‘virtue signalling’ – though to take issue with virtue signalling, is itself virtue signalling, as is me calling it virtue signalling and taking issue with virt… you get the idea – when I say that I’m not entirely sure comparing domestic abuse with asking for clarity on what comes next in the Brexit saga, is anything less than trivialising domestic abuse. It’s not a great start.
The argument itself – once we get past the shear offensiveness of the comparison – doesn’t stand up to basic scrutiny. It implies the UK is a victim, without any power whatsoever, controlled and abused by the entirely separate body – the EU. If we take a look at the power the UK had within the EU, we will see that this simply isn’t true.
This excellent break-down of data by ‘The UK In A Changing Europe’ shows a pretty powerful Britain at the heart of the EU. Britain has chaired the powerful Internal Market Committee of the EU since 2004, continuously. That’s 13 years we have been at the chair of a committee of a market our industries rely on, and on which Brexiters are pulling us out without any plan for what comes next, or any clarity for those industries and those jobs. We also chair the Civil Liberties Committee. In the past – since 2004 – we’ve chaired the Transport Committee, the Economic & Monetary Affairs Committee, Agriculture Committee, Development Committee, and Industry Committee. Key policy development committees within the European Union have been chaired by the UK. Other than Germany, and at times France, the UK holds more top offices than other member states. The UK was guiding the European Union for much of the past 15 years in shaping policy. On EU legislation on which the EU Parliament had power – equal to that of its member constituents in the council – to block or amend EU Laws, the UK authored more reports than every other EU member state, with the single exception of Germany. We were more often than not, over represented in positions of power in the EU. We weren’t the victim sat without any power as John – and his incredibly disingenuous Brexit comrades – would have you believe in order to support or give an ounce of credit to the fact that they’ve voted to pull us out of that, and into… well, they haven’t got a clue.
Moving on, John presents a familiar deluded Brexit-David, against the big bad establishment Goliath. The issue I take with this ‘establishment/elite’ argument from the Brexiteers, is that those representing their side, are not the struggling….
“Hence the principle criticism of the motley crew of ‘Leave’ campaigners being that they cannot guarantee what the future holds outside of the EU. At the same time, the establishment-backed ‘In-Crowd’ insult our intelligence by suggesting that they can somehow assure us of the only period of unchanging stability in history.”
– Imagine for a second that you inhabit a World in which the ‘motley crew’ of the Leave campaign are not ‘establishment’. That would include The Mail, The Express, The Sun, The Telegraph, millionaires Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, anti-NHS UKIP, millionaire ex-commodities trader Nigel Farage, the millionaire Arron Banks, half the governing Tory Party, the President of the United States & multi-billionaire Donald Trump. All these you consider a ‘motley crew’, the oppressed fighting for the people against the oppressor. And the big establishment oppressor is…. Nick Clegg.
Of course we remainers don’t think in such a binary choice between ‘stability’ and ‘chaos’. We argue – in actually, a traditionally conservative, Burkean tone – that evolution at a point when we know there are problems with the EU but we have no knowledge of what would happen without it, is much less uncertain and much less damaging than complete revolution without knowledge. We have power in the EU and must use it to evolve. But if revolution is to win over, then we are entitled to ask scrutinising questions and demand answers from those who fought for it. This is not unreasonable. Democracy includes scrutiny of the winning side. Brexiters cannot escape that. My side lost. We are under no obligation to provide on equal terms any explanation about what we think would come after voting to remain. That reality doesn’t exist. The reality that exists now seems to be the winning side, the gallant saviours, the heroic warriors fighting for our freedom…. complaining when scrutinised.
John moves on:
“Desperate scaremongering now floods the media, as our sobering corporatist tyrant wakes to find us contemplating Brexit: “If you leave, there’s no way back” they warn, quashing the prospect of a second referendum. “You’ll suffer the consequences”, the French Finance Minister threatens, with the proposition that the insensitively named ‘jungle’ migrant camp will move from Calais to Kent, ignoring the fact that the relevant bilateral treaty isn’t subject to our continued EU membership and that such an act would be self-defeating. “You can’t survive alone” they claim, as BMW attempts to bully their British Rolls-Royce employees with the vague threat that a vote to leave could “affect the company’s employment base”. The patronising tone would be insulting, if the deceit weren’t lapped up so readily by a wide-eyed electorate.”
– A spectacularly ironic end to a sentence. It speaks of a patronising tone, in a piece in which people like me are compared to abuse victims locked in a basement, in which – presumably – Brexiters, with no plan or forethought whatsoever, who stripped me of my EU Citizenship, and now simply sit with their fingers crossed that trade deals can be replaced easily, that industries and businesses dependent on open, tariff-free access to the single market will have nothing to worry about, are our knights in shining armour rather than a clueless bunch in tinfoil hats yelling aimlessly about how great we can be, presumably with a hand of their heart, a Union Jack waving in the background, but without providing any substance. Much like a town centre religious speaker with a megaphone telling us that all will be amazing once Jesus has saved us. Forgive me for being a bit sceptical of that, when they have no answer to the question “Okay, but how?”.
John’s article then speaks of deceit lapped up by a wide-eyed electorate. Another ironic statement given that it’s in article that poses UK as a powerless, abused partner, about a year after driving a bus around with £350mn a week offered to an NHS on its dying legs. A bus that followed the now Foreign Secretary around, who doesn’t seem to have continued his campaign to fund the NHS. Deceit indeed. And then there’s the phrase ‘Desperate scaremongering now floods the media…’. That’s from the side of the argument that produced these gems of wisdom from The Daily Mail…
And the Express:
– EVERYONE BE SCARED!!!! HIDE YOUR KETTLE AND EGGS!!!!
After bemoaning the fear mongering of the remain media, John tells us to be shit scared of the EU for its regional development funding:
“Small acts of kindness prompt powerful feelings of gratitude, with ‘acceptable’ behaviour rewarded, as our own funds are returned to subsidise the farmers and development projects that faithfully follow EU directives. Only mass denial prevents the realisation that resolute adherence to an overbearing political ideology is binding us to the constraints of stifling homogeneity.”
– Nothing strikes fear into my heart, quite like regional development funding and its constraints of stifling homogeneity. Bloody Soviets.
Of course, Chesterfield pays into a UK-wide budget that builds roads, hospitals, schools, across the rest of the UK. I pay into a Chesterfield-wide budget, etc. This is society. It’s how it works. The UK pays – once we take the rebate and what comes back in terms of development funds – around £6.5bn to a European Union of which we take part and help shape policy in which those funds are directed. This includes full membership – and a say in how it is run – of the single market and my right to travel freely and live and work freely in Europe. If Brexiters can guarantee that £6.5bn will be used to cover all the grants – like 20,000 projects listed by James Wharton that benefit from funding – along with the £350m extra a week for the NHS, and guarantee we get membership-level access to the single market – along with guaranteed use of my EHIC Card whilst on temporary stay within the EU, thus, a better deal, I’m willing to concede. So far, their answer seems to be a strong “dunno, maybe?”
On ‘discrimination’ John says that Brexit:
“will enable us to end the existing discrimination against non-EU citizens.”
– A silly sentiment, unless John is suggesting that all countries will now have travel & immigration to the UK rules applied equally. One of those silly Brexit sentiments that don’t actually mean what they sound like they mean. Of course discrimination is still going to exist, based on trade deals. We may strike a trade deal with Australia that relaxes Visa requirements and that doesn’t apply to citizens of – for example – Colombia. This is the exact same ‘discrimination’. And I suspect trade deals will include a relaxation of border restrictions. So, EU Citizens (who currently offer a net contribution to the UK) will have barriers erected to their free movement, as will I, discrimination will still exist, and John refers to this protectionism as being a policy of “genuine internationalists“.
He goes on:
“As adversaries trade blows in the final stages of the war of least-worst outcomes, the eventual winner is expected to be the side that can most convincingly portray the most dystopian version of an alternative future. Perhaps we should focus instead on the not-so-fanciful dream that a country with the fifth largest economy in the world might just be capable of striking the balance between international congeniality and self-assured autonomy?”
– I agree. Let’s focus on that dream. It requires more than philosophising. Which means instead of dismissing all those asking for clarity as victims of domestic abuse, and instead of starry-eyed dreams of ‘autonomy’ that collapse the moment you ask for even a degree of clarity and voted for by only 51.8% of the country, Brexiters like John must now answer what comes next? Can you assure us that trade deals we lose, will be replaced by trade deals with more favourable terms? Who will it benefit? What’s the plan? Are jobs going to be lost in the near future as a result? What will happen when we pull out of the single market? What will be our relationship with the single market? When will EU Citizens living in the UK be guaranteed their right to stay? Will trade deals with other countries likely require relaxed visa rules? Will our European Health Insurance Card remain valid? So far, they’ve spent 30+ years being publicly Eurosceptic, without any idea on what comes next, no guarantees, yelling the entirely reductive “Brexit means Brexit” mantra when asked, like a creationist holding a copy of Genesis when you ask where God came from. “We don’t know” is not good enough from this new breed of ‘patriots’, because it isn’t a game. And I suspect when it doesn’t go well, they’ll blame everyone else but themselves for the utter shambles they’ve elected to create.