In 2015 the Conservative party won the UK election on a manifesto promise of holding a referendum on the UK’s EU membership. I highlighted this by changing my Facebook profile picture but was told this was unnecessary.
The referendum was a depressing affair. Nobody took it seriously even though the consequences were huge. None of the political parties wanted to work together to create a decent In campaign, they were so divided within themselves in England and had such a bad memory of getting a bad reputation from working together during the Scottish independence referendum. I went to an SNP meeting with the MEP Alyn Smith who told us all why being in the EU was such a useful thing, I asked him what we could do to help campaign on it and he shrugged and said there was some stuff SNP members could buy if they wanted.
I quit the SNP and joined the Greens, not from any specific annoyance just a longer term realisation that I tended to agree with their policies more. But the Greens had also decided not to have any campaigning, at least locally. When someone was hired three months before the referendum to run the Green EU campaign I e-mail them asking to run a stall but got no reply. Eventually I was told the e-mail address advertised didn’t work.
Days before the referendum people still told me there was nothing to worry about. Only there was. Then the media and politicians and everyone said we’d stay in the single market and custom’s union. Only that wasn’t to be either. I still hear people say that something will happen to fudge the issue or revert it because nobody would be so daft as to destroy so many sensible arrangements, this despite over two years of all the signs saying terrible things will happen and that being exactly what has happened.
The UK government uses the rhetoric “no deal is better than a bad deal”. Yet nobody challenges that. No deal means we lose our freedom to travel to Paris or Barcelona. Currently we can work in these cities as easy as we can Birmingham or Glasgow, that right will be gone. It means hundreds of thousands of new Scots being forced to move back overseas (and more in the rest of the UK) with hundreds of thousands of emigrated Scots coming back often to use pensions and health services. It means no nuclear material for our power stations. It means the system of food will break with farms being immediately unsustainable due to minimal subsidies or labour. It means our ability to take our government to court when they want to lock us up for no reason (which was common in Northern Ireland not too long ago) is gone. It means great schemes which allow my girlfriend to spend some months in the Netherlands for university will be gone. It means science research will be killed off. For that matter the funding for our universities will dry up due to lack of students from the EU. I won’t be able to use a phone for free in the EU as I can now. I’m contracted by a German company to work, I have no idea if this will even be legal or if my monthly bank transfer for pay will be possible. No deal will be a social and economic disaster, and while it is hard for people to believe it will be that bad, it is exactly what Theresa May is promising, just as David Cameron promised a referendum nobody thought would happen.
I joined a couple of anti-EU social media forums during the referendum to see what the arguments could be. They quickly turned to talk of “our race being the only one to voluntarily wipe itself out”, there’s nothing to argue with that so I quit. The seemingly rational chair of that forum was last seen posting links to the EDL founder on Twitter. There is no reason I have ever seen for leaving the EU which isn’t a horrible British nationalist racism.
The arguments in the media are about the rights of immigrants and the Irish border. Those are very important. But I never see anything about my rights and freedoms which are about to be taken away. And I never see anything about any other UK border which is about to get a lot more closed. The media and politicians never make these fundamental points.
A clearly incompetent UK government is failing to make the slightest attempt to solve a problem of their own making and is now calling the EU “the enemy”. The Scottish Government has made some sensible suggestions but been ignored. The UK parties seem to be unable to understand there’s a different legal system here never mind another layer of government who will be affected. The UK is taking all the powers which the Scotland Act said were for the Scottish parliament, it is destroying the devolution settlement. It is destroying the UK parliament too.
(1) A Minister of the Crown may by regulations make such provision as the Minister considers appropriate for the purposes of implementing the withdrawal agreement if the Minister considers that such provision should be in force on or before exit day.
(2) Regulations under this section may make any provision that could be made by an Act of Parliament (including modifying this Act).
The EU Withdrawl bill killing hundreds of years of English and British democracy.
That’s from the government who talk about being a big fan of free trade. Nobody ever queries why they are taking us out of the biggest free trade block there is. Nobody queries suggestions that a post-brexit deal will be better than the single market. You can not get a better free trade deal than a single market. Nobody makes the point that a free trade deal is a very bad thing without the associated regulations to protect workers rights, the environment and every other tragedy of the commons for which governments exist.
The leave campaign was a fraud. Vast amounts of money went to the DUP to hide the source, who then used in outside Northern Ireland. The UK government has now decided not to make them publish the sources even though this was what all the parties in Northern Ireland were told would happen, it’s no coincidence the DUP is now the supporter of the UK government. The Vote Leave part of that campaign lied about 350 million pounds a week, but besides being a lie it’s a meaningless figure since no government spending is given in amount per week. How does that compare to the annual NHS budget? Anyone who cares will already have realised it’s a lie and anyone who doesn’t want to care won’t care.
The EU is one of our four layer of government. That’s one layer of government too many for my liking but it makes no sense to get rid of the top layer which helps neighbouring countries work together to sort out the boring stuff like office chair standards and keep an eye on each other for basic rights and freedoms. It’s not sufficiently democratic, but that is mostly a facet of people’s unwillingness to see it as just another layer of government rather than as some international talking shop. Like all governments it screws up, when it apologised for paramilitary force being used to stop a vote in Catalunya this last week it failed itself and its 500 million citizens badly. But it’s not a reason to want to kill off that government layer.
I’m angry and frustrated and exhausted at the politicians, public and media. The SNP, who won this year’s UK election in Scotland, are a shining beacon of light at Westminster and I look forward to a Scottish independence referendum on the issue but it may well not happen and it’ll be as filled with nonsense about being too small and too wee and PR-company made “grassroots” campaigns about Vote no Borders as it was previously, and people will believe that. I plan to apply for an Irish passport but I really don’t want to move away from the country and city and family and friends I call home.