As I noted in my previous post, the “remain” campaign is not so much pro-EU as anti-Brexit.
That would be understandable were the “remainers” defending a static status quo that has served us well, but, as even the British legacy media is beginning to acknowledge, there is no status quo when it comes to Britain’s EU membership.
To that end, Britain Stronger in Europe (BSE) does not even attempt to explain the benefits associated with supranational governance (whatever those may be) or EU representation in international forums. Instead, it makes repeated assertions about the nasty consequences that would result from Britain’s EU withdrawal.
Trade and international co-operation would be put in jeopardy and Britain would become an international pariah, apparently. Of course, were the EU to behave in such a capricious manner—flaunting treaty obligations and international conventions—the negative consequences for the EU would be far more significant than anything facing Britain.
The fact that the “remainers” feel able to make these glib assertions and expect to be taken seriously also speaks to the notion that British europhiles do not think very highly of the EU. Why would the need for EU “reform” be conceded so readily if Britain’s relationship with EU institutions was as hunky dory as BSE and British Influence claim?
Some of those among the anti-Brexit community even go so far as to say that Britain should be “punished” for leaving the EU. With respect to which, only somebody who feels loyalty to the EU, rather than to their own country, could imagine that argument having any purchase among the British electorate. The British have a tendency to grin and bear a lot, but start to make direct threats against people’s well-being and watch as even the mild-mannered middle classes resolve to become ballot box revolutionaries.
Secondly, there is a peculiar counter-logic at work in thinking that EU exit is so unattractive that a post-Brexit Britain should be “punished” to deter other departures.
Finally, as much as I criticise the British legacy media for being largely useless and all too often manipulative, it seems only right to give a little bit of credit when one of its denizens makes a worthwhile observation. The person in question is Faisal Islam, Political Editor for Sky News, who notes that it is not only the “remainers” who are lining up a fear campaign—based upon economic uncertainty—but also the big “leave” campaigns, which are beginning to promote their own brand of fear—based upon EU freedom of movement and Britain’s unpopular immigration policy.
I would guide very strongly against following either of the big campaigns down that particular path. There is an important debate to be had about immigration, but EU (actually EEA or Single Market) freedom of movement is not the problem that Nigel Farage would have people think. Mr Farage, who used to talk about immigration as only one of a subset of policy issues, has led his party down a back alley and arrived at a dead end by making immigration his number one priority. The “leave” campaigns should not do the same.
The real Brexit prize is self-governance.
Leaving the EU is not about immigration control, it is about policy control.
A Brexit campaign centred on the issue of self-governance is a campaign with something for everybody.
To alight upon the issue of trade, once again, surrendering Britain’s power to conduct international trade talks and to have an independent voice and right of reservation on international standards-setting bodies does not enhance Britain’s power, it enhances the EU’s power at Britain’s expense—and that is an argument which can be had across the board. Just name a policy area.
The argument that europhiles make about EU membership giving Britain more “clout” is a classic Orwellian inversion. The opposite is the case. Britain’s EU membership gives the EU more “clout”. Britain’s EU withdrawal would reduce the EU’s standing and enhance Britain’s. Blogging colleague Paul Reynolds expands upon this idea over at The EU Question.
We are all too used to stories about the latest “EU power grab”. Leaving the EU is the opportunity for a massive power grab by the British electorate. Little wonder the politicians are worried.