At Europe vigils over the last couple of months I’ve had many nice people thank us and fewer but still too many angry people throw variant levels of abuse. On 4 occasions I’ve been able to have conversations with leave voters and in none of those do they have any sensible reasons for voting leave, just incorrect populist ideas. Alas engaging with nonsense ideas doesn’t get you much thanks or understanding even when plain wrong. Two vital parts of education have completely bypassed the public in this dangerous game: how does the EU level of democracy work and what would be the options for leaving. I’ve never seen it explained what the options for leaving are in terms of the relationship between the UK and the EU and when I do get to ask a leave voter what they would prefer they immediately stop engaging.
Let me review:
a) EU membership. This is the Germany plus option. The UK gets to have a seat on the EU Council, members in the EU Parliament, appoint someone to the EU Commission as well as a judge in the ECJ. Payments to the EU budget are reduced due to a rebase that Margaret Thatcher negotiated based on unfairness in the formula for the payments. In return the UK gets freedom of movement of people, goods, services and capital.
b) EEA EFTA membership. The Iceland option. No democratic input but following pretty much all the rules except CAP and CFP. Fish quotas still need to be agreed with the EU to be allowed to trade fish and food still needs to compete with EU food so in practice they are followed too. Membership costs pretty much full price. EFTA Court and EFTA Surveilance authority keep things in line with ECJ rulings. All good for freedom for people, goods, services and capital.
c) In the Single Market but out the Customs Union. The Norway option. Can make trade deals with third countries. This is where the technological solutions the Brexity types are keen on come in as cameras watch lorries on the Norway/Sweden border incase they contain goods from outwith Norway which have yet to pay EU duties. Otherwise freedom for people, goods, services and capital.
d) In the Customs Union but outside the Single Market. The Turkey option. Requires a hard border around the UK. This is preferred by Jeremy Corbyn and the media happily spread the lie it could avoid a hard border around the UK. It could not. Flows of goods, services, people and capital all likely cut to a fraction of current capacity or stopped. People will die.
e) WTO rules. Not an option any sane country has. Hard border around the UK. Import capacity between UK and EU cut to a fraction. People will die. The law requires this from 1 November currently.
And that’s it. I’ve yet to hear anyone say what option they would like and be able to defend it.
Watching Game of Thrones tonight is a bit too close to the real world while Westminster continues to destroy the last scraps of functional democracy in that broken layer of government we have.
Election results midday on Monday will be interesting.