Is there anyone reading this blog who believes cutting Britain off from the European Union is the way to a brighter future? If so, this post is for you.
Firstly apologies to any readers in mainland Europe who are fed up to the back teeth with Britain’s special pleading, dithering and posturing and would rather we just left quietly. I understand your point of view and suggest you come back tomorrow for a post about gardening. But if you’re a British voter enjoying the peace and (relative) prosperity that European cooperation has helped to safeguard for the last sixty years and you still feel Britain would be better out of the EU, stay with me a moment.
Which arguments for Brexit make sense to you? The website of the Leave campaign offers a ‘vision’ composed of five key points. ‘Imagine’ it says ‘having £1,000 more to spend each year’. The numbers game is full of uncertainty on either side but the Remain campaign figures are backed up by the Bank of England and the Office of National Statistics among others. Leaving Europe is likely to give the average Briton less money in their pocket, not more.
‘Imagine how we could regain control of our borders…’ Which borders were they thinking of? The line between British Northern Ireland and the European Republic of Ireland? The border with a newly independent Scotland when it votes to rejoin the EU on its own account?
‘Imagine having greater influence over our global trade…’ It’s not too hard to imagine more complicated, expensive trade arrangements with our European neighbours, long-drawn out negotiations for new trade agreements with the US but…
‘Imagine the sense of pride we would get from negotiating our own global trade deals…’ Does that fire your imagination?
‘Imagine not having our laws dictated by Brussels…’ Drafting European Law is a complicated (some might say cumbersome) process involving elected representatives, panels of technical experts, impact assessments, public consultation and conciliation committees. (There’s a summary of how it works here.) Britain (as a member of the EU) is involved in every layer and stage of the process so where does the dictation come in? If Britain left the EU the country would still have to comply with European standards, to continue to trade with Europe, but that is when we’d have no say in the drafting of the rules.
There’s no copyright on the word but the reiterated ‘imagine’ for each point in the Leave vision statement suggests they are trying to borrow some reflected glory from John Lennon’s more inspirational wish list.
‘Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace…
‘Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world
‘You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one’
I’d been dithering about writing a post on this subject – Beyond the Window Box is, after all, a blog mostly about plants, parks and public spaces – but last night’s news of the murder of British MP Jo Cox decided me. Jo Cox was a hard-working, idealistic MP, committed to a vision of European cooperation just as she was committed to supporting the people of her home constituency. Eye witness accounts suggest that her killer shouted ‘Britain first’ as he pulled out a hunting knife and gun. Did Jo Cox die because she believed in democracy, starting at home and extending to Europe and beyond?
This cartoon by Arend van Dam comes from an article in Vox Europe entitled ‘Only a miracle will save us from Brexit’. Here’s my wish for a miracle, in memory of Jo Cox.