Leave means

Leave means less

Leaving the EU means our lives will be lessened. Less opportunity for everyone, but especially younger people, to choose anywhere in Europe to make their lives. Whether you would choose Paris or Berlin, the Costa del Sol or Tuscany, Stockholm or Lisbon or any of the thousands of delightful places to live permanently or just for a while – if we leave the EU, you will be in the same position as a Brazilian or a Russian. Your rights will be severely curtailed.

Leaving the EU means less prosperity. Since the referendum the UK’s economic performance has deteriorated sharply. This may seem obscure, academic but it has had real effects and Britain’s output is now, would you believe, about £350 million a week lower than it would have been had the UK voted to Remain in the EU. And we haven’t actually left yet! The recent news about Nissan and Honda is just the tip of the iceberg. All over the UK, companies big, medium and small are setting up in Dublin, Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt and elsewhere. This is not Project Fear – this is real.

Globalisation means many things but the days of ‘splendid isolation’ are long gone. Too many of the real issues are absolutely global both in their impact and how they can be resolved. Probably the most important of these is man made climate change. The EU plays a major part in the work to minimise the rate of man made climate change. As one of the main drivers of EU policy, the UK has a big role – as a medium sized country outside the EU our influence is sharply diminished. Learning to co-operate with others is a sign of strength and maturity. The EU is fundamentally a vehicle for nations to co-operate for their mutual benefit. Leaving the EU excludes us from this co-operative work on man made climate change and much else.

Leave means loss

Be under no illusions. The Brexit cult is, overwhelmingly, a project of the far right. Obsessed with puerile notions of the immaculacy of the “free market”, they see regulations as being inimical to their fevered visions. They are too blinded by their wild ideology to recognise that, actually, good strong well enforced regulations are actually essential to the operation of a free market. Otherwise the the businesses with the most callous working conditions, the least regard for the environmental impact of their operations and with a cynical disregard for the safety of their consumers, will lead a ‘race to the bottom’. So regulation is good.

And who is responsible for many of the regulations that protect workers, the environment, and us as consumers. Yes, you’ve got it, the EU. Regulation is a key part of the Single Market, ensuring a level playing field for businesses from Derry to Gdansk and from Vilnius to Valetta. But the free market jihadis exult in a fantasy of a bonfire of regulation to create a world where the rich and powerful hoover up money leaving those less favoured to work hideously long hours in appallingly dangerous conditions, then to suffer a terrible environment  when they do manage some time off, and to be poisoned or injured by those products their meagres wages allow them to buy.

 Leaving the EU means you will lose the protection of EU regulations such as, for example the working time directive. This may sound a bit, you know, authoritarian, but think about it – do you really want a completely exhausted junior doctor tending you or your loved ones? Would you be happy for a bus or truck driver, working dangerously long hours, to nod off to sleep as he drives through your town?

Do you know about the Bathing Water Directive? This is an example of how the EU has improved our lives by making it safe for us and our children to swim or paddle in the sea, confident that it will be free of excrement and other dangerous pollutants.

Have you bought any electrical items in the last 20 or 30 years? Did you notice the CE logo on it? This is the EU signifier that the item conforms to a safety standard that protects you and your family from the risk of electricution. Food, too, has to conform to safety standards agreed by all members of the EU. Those promoting Leave lust after the notion that we can import food items from the USA, for example, such as hormone treated beef and chlorinated chickens.

A lot of these things have been in place sufficiently long that we probably take them for granted but we should thank the EU for them. Something more recent has been the EU’s banning of mobile phone roaming charges. So mobile phone operators can no longer rip you off when you make a call from your well earned holiday in Spain, Italy or Greece. Just be grateful we are in the EU and have all these protections. Leave the EU and you will lose them.

Leave means lies

Right from the start in the early 1990s, those opposed to EU membership have resorted to lies. One Boris Johnson – heard of him? – was then the Brussels correspondent of the Daily Telegraph and thought it was a bit of a hoot to make things up to amuse and titillate readers. Straight bananas anyone? Complete BS of course (what else does Bozza do?) but as anyone in business or life knows, the first message carries the most weight.

Ever since those days there has been a constant whining from those whom we now call Brexiters about how horrid the EU was being to us. Politicians of all stripes played along with this preferring to use absurd macho talk such as ‘going to sort out Brussels’ rather than bothering to explain the complexities of multi-national negotiation. And also never bothering to explain that the UK was one of the major players in these negotiations and that we nearly always got our own way. Furthermore it was much easier to blame Brussels for something potentially unpopular than admit both that the UK had wanted the change and frequently embellished it.

So it is no wonder that many people came to believe that the EU was, in the words of ‘1066 and all that’, “a bad thing”. They were helped in this belief by relentless wild exaggeration (at best) or complete untruths (frequently) promulgated by The Sun (owned by the foreigner Rupert Murdoch who was worried that EU media ownership regulations might clip his overmighty wings), The Mail (owned by a Viscount with his vast wealth stashed in a tax haven and edited by a Paul Dacre who seemed to have a pathological hatred of anything that had happened since the 1950s including, especially, the EU – although it didn’t stop him pocketing vast EU grants for his grouse moors) and the aforementioned Daily Telegraph (owned by a pair of brothers living in a tax haven and terrified that EU tax laws might relieve them of a small amount of their obscene wealth.)The lies just kept coming. £350 million a week for the NHS?

The actual amount going to the EU is about half that, once our rebate and the payments to the UK (including £millions to the former editor of the Daily Mail) are taken into account. Most of that comes from London and the South East, who, I think you will agree, can quite easily afford it. If you have received a tax statement you will see from the helpful graph that payments to the EU represent a tiny sliver of total government expenditure. This hasn’t stopped Theresa May from repeating the lie about ‘vast sums of money’ that she will have if we are foolish enough actually to leave.