Reporting on what its leader writers aver is an “alarmingly close contest”, The Economist magazine this week informs its readers that there is a “real chance” Britain could leave the EU.
Prior to the referendum, it is extraordinarily difficult to determine how people are likely to cast their ballots. There are two propositions—“leave” and “remain”—and by dint of Electoral Commission procedure both options are given equal weight on the ballot paper itself.
The prestigious Economist magazine, on the other hand, pays its readers no such courtesy and instead indulges in paragraph after paragraph of ignorant, doom-leaden propaganda. I have practically given up on the celebrity-obsessed legacy media but for many people (some of them known to me personally) the Economist is regarded as a redoubt of evidence-based reporting and knowledgable commentary.
I can dispel that myth immediately. Beginning with the emotive imagery of Britain “casting off from Europe’s shores”, the leader writers have produced an editorial loaded with the kind of scaremongering piffle that would make even some gossipy tabloid hacks think twice. The affect is to engender a feeling of ennui at the mere thought of Britain’s EU withdrawal.
Leaving the EU would “damage the economy” and “imperil Britain’s security”, the Economist asserts, without a scrap of evidence; the “sophisticated readers” of this “august journal” are expected to accept these statements as a priori facts rather than subjecting them to the kind of critical reasoning conventionally associated with brand Economist.
From thereon, the feature descends into incoherent foaming, presenting an unpleasant and unhinged perspective on what self-governance would mean for the United Kingdom and its allies in Europe and elsewhere. “Far from reclaiming sovereignty”, we are told, “Britons would be forgoing clout, by giving up membership of a powerful club whose actions they can better influence from within than from without”.
In response to this, one can but ask, “what influence”? Here are a few pertinent facts that the Economist neglects to mention in its petty rant.
As part of the EU28, Britain sacrifices power for so-called influence. The fifth largest economy on the planet surrenders the right to make its own trade, agricultural and fisheries policies, and “shares” responsibility for justice and home affairs, environmental, energy, transport and telecommunications policy with 27 other Member States and the EU’s supranational institutions. In short, EU membership lengthens lines of accountability and introduces unnecessary complexity into the policy-making process; that means less power and influence for ordinary voters, not more.
The promise of “clout” is also worth far less than is often claimed when one considers the effects of the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, which compels signatories (as both the EU and UK are) to favour international standards over regional or domestic standards. As a result, the EU is an impediment to Britain playing a full and independent role in the truly multilateral standards-setting process that advances through thousands of technical bodies—operating on an intergovernmental basis—at the global level. Food standards are a matter for Codex Alimentarius in Rome; the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) focuses on shipping and freight; automotive vehicle standards are agreed by WP.29 under the auspices of the United Nations Commission for Europe (UNECE).
Adopting a global perspective, the Economist’s view that Britain would be isolated or “cast adrift” is absurd. Are Australia or Canada isolated because they are not EU Member States? Britain’s economy, it is worth noting, is far larger than both.
Since this post is already running a little long, and I am barely a third of the way into the Economist article, I shall have to continue the rebuttal of their fantasy land Brexit in another post. Remarkably, the rest of the article is even more incoherent and illogical than its opening.