Tuesday, 14 June 2016

#EUref - Key Issues To Clarify (Plea to News and Media)

I've finally managed to catch up with last Friday's "The Last Leg".  Mainly to discover what the real Jeremy Corbyn is like, appearing as guest.  The programme now available on All4 was very illuminating in that regard and is well worth watching for this and an incisive.look at the EU Referendum

Indeed the first two segments of the programme concentrated on the EU Referendum, from which I gleaned:
  1. The presenters and lots of people they know have not a clue how to vote as yet. They are confused by the conflicting factors and misinformation
  2. The main information being put out by the official Remain and Leave camps is plain wrong. The host, Adam Hills, had to use the "Bullshit" button for each and every item quoted. Npt minor ppints, but the main points the two camps are making.
  3. The best thing to do might be to go with your gut feel. 
Gut feel and emotions are important.  But isn't there a better, more logical way to come to a sensible decision on something so important to our future as whether to continue membership of the EU?


It strikes me that there are a number of key issues that need to be properly clarified for people to make up their minds.  Here's a plea to the news and media channels to get to the bottom of these issues quickly, challenging what the Remain and Leave camps are saying on these topics. 

Let's get to the truth, or at least the most sensible look in the crystal ball.

Here are my thoughts on the key issues. But I'm fully open to stronger arguments that might turn my provisional voting decision the other way. I want the right decision for the UK, and that means debating the issues with facts and vision in as much depth as necessary:


The ballot paper has only two options, Remain and Leave. But each of these splits into 2 main options:

(a) Remain:
  • Europhile: Stay in the EU whatever
  • Eurosceptic: Stay in for now, but keep Leave under review. But will we get another chance to leave?  Article 50 to Leave can be invoked at any time, but would there need to be another referendum?
(b) Leave
  • Europhobe: Leave EU (and any other way of being part of the Single Market), to set up free trade deals with EU and other countries of the world.  But each deal could take many years.
  • Europhobe-Lite: Initially continue in Single Market, probably through membership of EEA (often called the "Norway Option", or some variant of it).  This may be a stepping stone to full withdrawal, once a different free trade agreement with Europe has been put place.  Otherwise the initial arrangement might last for decades. 
The question is how should the Government interpret and action a Remain or Leave result?  Because it is the Government of the day that will have to act, not the Remain or Leave camps.  There is a political imperative to follow the result, but no actual legal imperative.  But what specific actions?

Can the polling organisations generate the supporting data the Government will need?

Further details on this topic here "EU Referendum - What Type of "Euro-" Are You? "


Not necessarily. In fact immigration control would probably be no better and could even be worse if vote Leave:
  • Any free trade deal with EU, whether in the Single Market as member of EEA or outside it, is almost certainly going to involve continuation of Free Movement of People (FMOP) for EU citizens, at least of  workers.  FMOP is a key aspect of the arrangement with Norway, Switzerland and others outside the EU who want to be part of the Single Market.  But workers is the most important cagegory when it comes to the immigration issues of taking jobs and driving down wage rates. It is the working age people that tend to migrate, so it is they who put pressure on infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and housing.
  • A deal that doesn't involve FMOP is a possibility, but would be many years away if stay in the Single Market initially. Which we must to avoid big issues in the economy, as described below.
  • In the meantime the UK could lose the right to hold potential non-EU immigrants in Calais, due to a global obligation as an independent country to accept potential refugees in-country, and look after them. That will cost the UK taxpayer.
  • In any case any people already living in the UK will have the right to stay, under international law. 
To me the key issue is whether there would be an "Emergency Brake" available to apply to immigration if it continues or became too high?  This is a distinct possibility within the EEA, but has also been strongly hinted if the UK is to remain in the EU. It would be up to the UK Government to negotiate the best brake, be the result Remain or Leave.

So realistically, Leave looks to provide no clear advantage in respect of immigration, and could make matters worse.

Furthermore I'm not sure people who advocate control of UK borders appreciate the same would inevitably operate in reverse for UK nationals who want to live, work, retire or travel around the EU.  Those already living in the EU will be able to stay, but the freedoms for others would not exist in future.

And how about the UK/Eire border? Put border controls back up? Tear the key Irish agreements to pieces? Wouldn't it be disastrous for the region?

So Leave is not the immigration panacea often presented. Leave could make matters worse, and esult in loss of our precious freedoms. Further details here in "Immigration - Aren't the Leave Camp selling us The Emperor's New Clothes?"


The UK is a proud nation that is the 5th largest economy in the world. We can stand on our own two feet, surely?
  • But the UK is only in league 2 after Japan.  The USA, China and the Rest of EU are in the premier league, streets ahead due to their sheer size of population
  • Nonetheless the UK has a bigger economy than India, Australia and all the South American, African and other Asian states
Let's look after our own affairs, under the democracy and authority of Westminster.  There's plenty wrong with the EU's structure and demccracy, as most of the Remain supporters accept.

Does the UK want to be part of the EU club where greater political and monetary union is the stated aim, to become more like the United States of Europe?  No, and the UK Government has negotiated that the UK needn't become any closer part of that arrangement. This "Memorandum of Understanding", if not legally watertight in a Treatyt, is a political reality that other nations in the EU reverse at their peril. Which is why a vote for Remain must have an ongoing Leave watch in place.

Clearly our influence in the EU would diminish by leaving the EU.  That is a major problem in my view.

But how about global influence?  Soem people argue the EU is becoming an irrelevant middleman, which should be disintermediated from its role between global bodies and nation states such as the UK, on topics such as trade and the environment. Maybe, but not yet. It's too early to Leave for that reason.


There are lots of figures being bandied about, most of which are being rubbished. As far as I can establish:
  • The net direct cost of EU membership (what paid in compared to what directly received back) is much smaller than figures suggested by the Leave camp
  • Other participants in the Single Market, notably Norway, pay a substantial amount into EU coffers, but without any influence on EU regulations that affect them. Sounds a bad deal.
  • The net difference between the net cost of EU membership and some other arrangement would be very small in the overall context
  • It is certainly small by comparison to the net tax receipts arising from working immigrants, where figures of over £10 billion per annum are being quoted
So what is the overall benefit or cost to the Exchequer of EU membership compared to other likely options?  We need facts please.


So far so good. On the basis of the issues above people may vote Remain or Leave.  Probably on the basis of their heart and gut feel:
  • Leave if it's more important that the UK regain control and our "rightful place" in the world
  • Remain if feel influence in Europe is more important to our future, and value the rights to travel freely around Europe
  • And in any case Immigration is a red herring, if anything better under Remain
But the economy is usually the deciding factor in an election.  For most people the over-riding factor in the decision will be the effect of Remain or Leave on the economy.  Jobs. My job or business. My children's and grandchildren's jobs and future.
There's lots of claims and counter-claims flying around, and frankly some silly figures.  All I know is:
  • The UK economy won't completely collapse if either Remain or Leave. The dire warnings in the 1990s of not joining the Euro didn't come true then (and thankfully the UK didn't join the Euro). Extreme warnings won't come true now.
  • But if Leave win, there will be the uncertainty of what sort of trade deals will be put in place with the EU and elsewhere, and how long they will take to put in place. This will inevitably result in the cancellation or deferral of investment in the UK, be it internal or inward investment from outside the UK.  The reduction in investment is what happened in 2008/09, and was the real reason we had a recession after the economy started to crumble.  "Batten down the hatches. We're not spending any money."  was what I repeatedly heard. That just creates a massive slowdown.  
  • It would take years to put trade deals in place outside the EU to gain any real advantage economically.  Any such benefit is many years away, whilst the effect of Leave on trade with the EU in the short term would be for trade to suffer. Leave would produce a net negative affect on the economy, even without the investment issue making it worse.
  • As a result it is completely logical that nearly every major economic body is predicting a worse economy under Leave than under Remain for many years. Youc an argue about the specific assumptions each body makes.  But standing aback it would clearly be worse under Leave in the short erm, with a distinct threat of a self-induced recession.
In my view we simply can't take that risk now.  This is why so many Eurosceptics in the Govenemnt, in business and in life generally will vote Remain.

But is this assessment correct? The news and media organsiatsions need to help us with the facts, expert opinion, and a good hard gaze into the crystal ball.


There isn't a clear vision on the Leave side.  Or at least hasn't been. There have been lots of different visions, including:
  • Leaving the Single Market (as well as the EU) until a new agreement is put in place for UK to re-join the Single Market, similar to say Norway or Switzerland. This would have to be within 2 years of pressing the Article 50 exit button, as EU membership (and access to the Single Market) then ceases unless there is an agreement to extend
  • Long term arrangement for Single Market by applying to join EEA along the lines of Norway, or along the lines of Switzerland
  • Short term arrangemet with EEA, pending long-term arrangement with EU along lines of Canada
There's no idea of the terms of any such deal, or even what might reasonably be achieved. This is especially in respect of Free Movement of People (FMOP), where Norway and Switzerland have both accepted different levels of FMOP and therefore gained different levels of access to the Single Market.  Full access will almost certainly mean full FMOP, at least of workers (as discussed above), unless a Canadian-style deal is stuck without FMOP.  But I can't see that  happening given the UK's geographical psoition on the edge of Europe.  Gut feel is once in EEA, that is where the EU will force the UK to stay by the lack of any new arrangement.

What is the Leave viison that a Uk Government wiuld actually implement?


I can be contacted via Twitter @just4charley.  I'm happy to participate actively in TV, radio, print and internet debates.  Please see my pinned tweet.

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