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Right now I, having always been, as a former war baby, very much in favour of a united Europe, am veering towards voting for a UK exit. Has anyone any good arguments in either direction?
...and, how about a vote?
Votar: Should the UK leave the European Union?
It seems to me that it will come down to an emotive decision for a lot of people. I think turn-out will be low, and the result fairly close. As you say, I have yet to see any mainstream media make any well-reasoned argument either way. I would personally like to see us remain part of the EU (I bloody hate it when I agree with David Cameron, for the record) but I can't explain that in terms that have mass appeal and I certainly couldn't argue it more strongly or eloquently than Boris Johnson. Ultimately, it may come down to a matter of personalities, and Farage & Johnson are more "charismatic" than anyone dredged up by the Yes campaign thus far. Nick Clegg spoke quite today on the matter, but his name is mud and will remain so evermore.
I don't think we should be having this referendum at all - the question of leaving the EU never seemed to be on anyone's agenda until Farage came bumbling along. I don't see any connection between our EU membership and issues facing the UK today - it all feels like a smokescreen intended to distract us from the less savoury manoeuvres of a Tory government. That smokescreen won't end come 23rd June - if we vote for withdrawal, there will be incessant rounds of renegotiations in such an absurd number of areas, I think we will all be driven slightly mad by attempts to answer questions such as:-
Where will we stand within NATO?
Will there be another Scottish referendum?
Will we continue to charge EU students the same tuition fees as home students to study in English universities? (notwithstanding funding arrangements in Wales, Scotland & NI)
Will Tesco start selling bendy croissants again?
If the Conservatives win the general election in 2020, will there be an in-out referendum on the UK's position in the Eurovision Song Contest?
Perhaps a little silly towards the end of that list, but the point remains that we are being distracted from asking more important questions, like why are we doing such a pathetic job of dealing with the migrant crisis, and how can we take meaningful steps forward to help end the war in Syria? Those should be our real foreign policy discussions right now because those are the things that really matter.
As to my feelings, I suppose I am by instinct Conservative, but of an old-fashioned 'one-nation' sort so I don't warm to many of the Eurosceptics. However I am old and the hardening of my arteries is probably accompanied by a hardening of my heart. I have lived through more change in Britain than I can find comfortable: I think that separation from over-bureaucratised Europe is more likely to slow the pace of change here than the reverse. Within Europe there are just too many different groups having to be kept happy.
Ho hum! Perhaps I will return to the real enthusiasm I felt in 1975 when I voted to stay in the EEC (although I just turned up this bile-stained article from a - hopefully forgotten - Vernon Coleman which tells me I was brainwashed by the press and lying politicians! http://www.vernoncoleman.com/howthebritishmedia.htm ) There are a lot of weird people around so I hope that the media can stop looking for self-serving squabbles between politicians and rabble-rousing sound bites and instead give us some solid facts.
Why do you think Europe is "over-bureaucratised"? The number of people employed by all parts of the EU machinery (Commission, Parliament etc) is tiny - just over 40,000.
Some things to think about
- I am certain that if there is a narrow Out vote but Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland vote In there is going to be trouble. Scotland will want another independence referendum for a start (and who can blame them). In such a referendum I think they will vote YES for independence.
- I think that most of the serious issues that affects Europe today requires a supra-national solution. Especially migration (and refugees) - the problem there isn't that the EU did too much as the EU, but that it did too little and too late, that the nation-states didn't want to agree a common solution. Similarly for issues like the environment we need supra-national solutions.
- That many of the protections and freedoms we see today are the result of European 'interference' as the antis would have it. Whilst these will still remain on voting 'out' (they were passed via primary legislation) I am certain that the anti-EU brigade want to also pull us out of the ECtHR, and to roll back the European legislation that was passed - they often talk about Health & Safety and unreasonable burdens on business.
All of that comes before the "pig in a poke" argument of not knowing what kind of solution we will be getting if we vote to leave.
Prejudice, I guess. Not so much the numbers in Brussels but maybe the Bismarkian attitude that unelected bureaucrats are easier to manage than elected politicians. There are also things about expense accounts, the Brussels/Strasbourg shift, etc.
The Scottish situation is interesting - as well as your scenario, how about a small majority for Out in England who are then kept In by a lot of In voting Scots?
Freedoms? Some good, certainly, but what about, say, the "right" of imprisoned criminals to vote?
>5 reading_fox: You are right, of course, about the lack of any kind of certainty but I suppose the same goes for what happens if we stay in. There is a nice cover on Private Eye at the moment -Hieronymous Bosch's Last Judgement (of maybe Garden of Earthly Delights) with one sufferer saying to another "David Cameron said it would be like this!"
On bureaucrats - the majority work for the commission, and only about 2/3rds of them in Brussels. There are about 6000 involved with running the Parliament. But sure there are issues with expenses and the like - but don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
The reverse Scotland situation doesn't really come into play - there aren't a significant number of people in England looking to leave the rest of the UK.
The right of people in prison to vote - absolutely for it. Firstly it isn't an absolute right - no-one is saying that all prisoners should have the vote. For example people on remand should obviously be able to vote (the haven't been found guilty of anything). People who are in prison for very short periods of time are going to have to spend their time after being freed living in society (for example should someone who was in prison for 1 day on voting day be denied the vote). Those people who are coming to the ends of their sentences will also be living in society in the very near future, and as part of the preparation for release should be allowed a vote so as to have a stake in that society. Finally the 'right of prisoners to vote' is a ECtHR (European Court of Human Rights) decision and as such is nothing whatsoever to do with the EU.
A councillor - on Highland Council and also a Community councillor (The Scottish Executive has made it clear they have to do what Edinburgh tells them. They can't put up the council tax because the SNP Executive will impose whinging cuts They must employ the right number of teachers etc). So much for local democracy. I'm talking here about the real council and not the Community people.
An MSP (elected) to Holyrood
Another MSP elected (?) to Holyrood via the "List". Elected thanks to proportional representation because of party affiliation and not votes for him/her personally (hence the question mark)
An MEP. Off in Brussels. Total non-entity as far as Inverness is concerned. Notice that some of these claimed they could/would undo the "Deal". Well they wouldn't they? They need the job/money/perks.
An MP (at Westminster).
Brexit will at least get rid of one of these and the bureaucrats will be somebody else's problem.
And finally I can't help feeling that lots of people in Western Europe must feel the same way. In France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands etc.
Actually Scotland is a single EU constituency and all 6 Scottish MEPs represent everyone in Scotland. They don't have particular areas that they are assigned to.
Similarly, Wales is a single EU constituency (Wikipedia), and has been since 1999, returning five members in the 1999 and 2004 elections, reduced to four members in 2009 and 2014. Shame on me! Although I voted in each of those elections, if you'd asked me ten minutes ago, I would have said I'm in the pre-1999 Mid and West Wales constituency!
True to form, much of the programme was spent running around the Westminster Village trying to find out which MPs had been wined and dined by which Tory leadership contender.
I think you've put your finger on something there. I think most people of the sceptical persuasion, rightly or wrongly, are reacting to the Commission rather than the Parliament, seeing it - the Commission - as an over-mighty bureaucracy in a way our own civil service wouldn't be allowed to be (at least not visibly - shades of Yes Minister!)
I think the 'Leavers' are bound to make the most 'noise', be more passionate. Some of them have been banging on about this for thirty years or more and this is their chance. It is much less easy to be passionate about a position which is basically - I think we are doing OK as we are and would be silly to change.
Then I was brought up short by an editorial in, of all things, 'Birdwatch' magazine. It reminded me that so much of recent advances in the protection of the environment and wildlife have been imposed on unsympathetic British government by Europe. I was well aware of that, but, to my shame, I'd simply forgotten about environmental concerns, my mind taken up with puzzling over economics and politics.
In my book, that's a pretty good reason for making up my mind and I've done so. I've even gone so far as to apply for a postal vote, so that my vote gets in wherever I might be on the day.
... okay - don't panic - stand down, everyone - I've just phoned and they told me that the ballot forms were mailed from London yesterday. Now all I've got to worry about is Royal Mail doing their job before I go on holiday - there should be plenty of time.
I've just realised this is the first vote in years about which I've felt any sort of real commitment. Previously, I'd pretty much got down to staring at the ballot paper in something akin to despair, but now the word is probably 'fear'.
Hah-HAH!!! My voting form came just as I was re-reading that last sentence. Ye gods, life is event-filled and exciting this morning - I don't know if I can take it this early.
Calm down. Calm ............ down. What was I saying?
Oh yes - 'fear'. Apart from anything else, I'm dreading having to live in a world of triumphalist Farages and Borises ... the twats I find myself allied with are bad enough ...
"Economists are rewarded for saying what the powers that be want to hear. Whatever a politician wants to do, he or she can find an economist as advisor who had argued for doing precisely that. Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted to increase government spending, so he listened to John Maynard Keynes, whereas Ronald Regan wanted to decrease government spending, so he listened to Milton Friedman".
I reject the economic 'experts' opinions so I cannot evaluate the economic arguments. I have seen the population of the UK almost double in my lifetime and the growth is accelerating. Any action that can potentially slow the rate gets my vote.
I seriously doubt that. 2016 population approx 65m (a growth of 0.6%).
You would have had to have been born in 1901 before you could say that the population almost doubled. It was 38.3m then Even then it is pushing it a little.
Considering that people tend to live a lot longer these days - a growth of 0.6% approx doesn't seem too bad. It is approximately the same annual population increase that the UK saw in the late 50s and early 60s.
Economic systems are very hard to fully understand, and some economists in the past did not take enough account of systematic behavioural areas. Nevertheless the fact that economists cannot agree whether an interest rate rise is good now or in a year's time is not a good reason to dismiss an overwhelming consensus that the benefits of a single market are positive to an economy.
If we vote to leave then we will be worse off. That argument is settled with an overwhelming level of confidence. We cannot know how much better off we will be if we stay in, but we can will be better off.
As for population growth, economics comes to play again, although in this one we can take note of China's policy reversal on population growth: the problems of a rising population are not nearly as great as the problems of an aging one. In the longer term the UK basically will need to "import" young people because we are not producing enough of our own.
As Andyl points out, however, the problem of rising population is overstated. Our population is set to continue growing but we are not even getting close to the population density of, say, Holland (a country that, despite its high population, is a major agricultural exporter).
Does this apply if we exclude the wide swathes of under-populated Scotland, the Welsh Marches, Yorkshire Moors and the like which will never attract large numbers of immigrants? Living in London and Roseland (a new term for me - Rest Of South East - land) - there is less elbow room than there used to be.
Not that that argues in any way against your point about the problems of an aging population.
It's reassuring to see the voting at the top of the thread - not many Sun readers on LT, maybe ;-)
Speaking as someone living (unfortunately) in Inverness I'm not too sure about proportional representation or at least the Scottish version. We have a large number of MSPs who were elected by no-one and are responsible to no-one. As for having little faith in the British electorate I take that to mean you don't care what ordinary people think. Exactly the view of the men from Brussels. I don't understand your final sentence at all.
I do care what ordinary people think. Many of them think very stupid things, and that concerns me.
Some people are claiming Irish citizenship (on grounds of ancestry) in order to ensure retention of their EU rights. If the UK leaves the EU, and Scotland then leaves the UK in order to get back in, then others may attempt a similar claim there.
Yes, clearly the South East is much more densely populated, particularly around the London metropolis. Of course that is also true of the Netherlands in the Ranstad, and explains why they still have plenty of agricultural land available. Populations are never evenly distributed. As you say, that does not really change the overall point though.
I have to say I am getting depressed by the official polling that is showing a small but significant shift towards leave (ignore the headline polls that show huge swings - those are all outliers). It would be sickening to be bounced into a less democratic system where we have to tow the EU line, pay to access the single market and no longer get any say in it (as will certainly happen if we vote to leave - all other scenarios are pipe dreams). It should also be noted that no European country says so now for fear of negatively influencing perceptions ahead of the vote, but some will use their veto powers to ensure that Britain pays a hefty penalty for leaving. It is not vindictiveness but pragmatism that will lead to that: they want other countries considering leaving to see that it would be very costly to do so.
I genuinely fear for a future where our economy is wrecked, immigration remains just as high (because we have to accept the free movement rules to be in the market) and Boris Johnson replaces David Cameron as Prime Minister - and with all the attention turned west, things fall apart in the East. All that we would need then would be Donald Trump in the white house for the perfect plot for a dystopian genre novel!
There was a Leave supporter on the BBC this morning who was puzzled by some of the voting, saying that it couldn't just be about immigration because they were places in England voting to leave where they were lucky if they had ever seen an immigrant. It does beg the question whether this vote was about people who feel disenfranchised giving the fingers to the perceived establishment.
Boris for PM by November? (Who else is a realistic candidate?)
Scottish referendum? (I'm not sure about this and I voted Yes at the last one. I'm not sure that the result would change although it may be closer and the Scottish Govt won't want to waste the opportunity. They may get two chances but unlikely three. Of course there is the irony that the No campaign told Scotland that only way to stay in Europe was to remain in UK).
Increased interest rates, mortgage payments? (If the financial markets don't recover from the initial shock then this will be the immediate impact on most people. There also has to be a question about whether companies/investors will no put their money into mainland Europe where access to the EU is guaranteed?).
No change? (I agree with Sirfurboy that this vote may change nothing and five years down the line the UK still is towing the EU line but now has no say in determining it).
The end of the EU? (Has the UK started a game of Jenga with the EU? Will someone else vote leave and then another before it all comes tumbling down? This is the part that worries me about the UK-EU trade deal; if the EU goes easy on the UK then it sets a precedent that may lead to others leaving, so this deal may well be tougher on the UK than some people expect).
>30 sirfurboy: Wales espousing the Brexit line so enthusiastically - who'd have thought it?
>33 Jargoneer: Surprised and more than a little depressed. It goes to show that, in Belloc's words: "....little boys Should not be given dangerous toys".
I agree with most of your post but I do wonder about Boris. For sure he is the obvious candidate, particularly if Gove doesn't want the job, but one of the less obvious traits of MPs is their capacity for true and abiding hatred for colleagues that upset them. I'm sure Boris will have made (more) enemies in the Conservative Party by his stance in the campaign and the Tories have rationally made sure that the parliamentary party has a firm grip on the short list. What about a small punt on Theresa May? She kept a pretty low profile and could probably shrug off her 'support' of Remain.
One of the things that isn't being discussed, probably to their relief, is that the pollsters managed to get it seriously wrong again.
I'm starting to come to the opinion that we have a referendum on something every two years because it gives us all something to talk about. With 'Game of Thrones' ending soon and the BBC being denuded of funding by our forthcoming even shinier, even more libertarian govt we will need something to plug the gap. It used to be you could go to the pub and drown your sorrows but at £5 a pint (Edinburgh prices) that's no longer an option.
I'm sure this was a major factor for many.
I have to say I am sickened by this result. As an economist professor I know says, "we now live in a post factual society" where a campaign of lies on an industrial scale was used to persuade a public through a partisan press corps (82% of all press articles by media reach were hostile to the EU as shown by research from University of Loughborough) and a clever use of personality politics that we should not listen to experts or evidence but should "take back control".
I am still not entirely convinced we are leaving the EU. There are several good reasons why it may prove impossible to actually trigger article 50, but even if we don't, we face months of uncertainty, waiting for Brexit to become unpopular as all the lies unravel.
I am particularly interested in what people will think when they realise the Calais border probably will eventually be rolled back to the UK, and that the Dublin protocol will no longer apply so that mass incursions through the Channel Tunnel result in us being forced to give asylum to the arrivals rather than sending them back to their EU country of entry.
Para 3 - I can't believe it fully either. I wake with the relief of waking from a bad dream and then realise that it is all true. Never glad confident morning again!
Para 4 - We could flood the tunnel - who wants to go to Europe now? ;-) Actually I think there may be a bit of project fear in that worry, at least when we are out, even if not for the two years negotiating period. Generally it is the responsibility of carriers to ensure that passengers are free to land at their destination and I think this would apply to ferries and Eurostar just as much as airlines.
On Wales toeing the English line, that is astounding but not unpredictable, as was clear from the Welsh Assembly elections. It is particularly astounding that net beneficiaries of EU funding should vote out, but indicative of (a) the levels of deprivation in those areas - that is why they attracted the funding after all and (b) the fact that the press was so hostile, the information so slanted, and the referendum (as for all referenda) was dressed up as all kinds of protests rolled up into one nebulous candy coated package.
>45 abbottthomas: Regarding the incursion of the channel tunnel - well yes it is the carrier's responsibility as you say, but that does not mean that they will execute that responsibility fully, nor even to be able to. Of course the numbers involved even in a "mass incursion" would not be significant regarding overall immigration. That is not the point though, but rather I would like to see how people (who really react to media coverage rather than facts in so much regarding immigration) would react to discovering that outside of the EU we would have *fewer* options for dealing with refugee immigration.
Maybe now with a resigned shrug as just one more politician's lie.
Of course we are all still seeing ourselves as a No. 1 destination for migrants - more English hubris? When stagflation appears, wages fall, unemployment rises, welfare benefits fall and the NHS stumbles will anyone want to come here?
82 % des articles publiés pendant la campagne du référendum sont hostiles à l’UE, selon une étude publiée par l’université de Loughborough,
82% of articles published during the referendum campaign are hostile to the EU, according to a study published by the University of Loughborough
La domination des journaux eurosceptiques au Royaume-Uni est « unique en Europe », observe Oliver Daddow, maître de conférences en sciences politiques à l’université de Nottingham
The dominance of Eurosceptic newspapers in the UK is "unique in Europe," says Oliver Daddow, professor of political science at the University of Nottingham
The survey referred to is here:
It makes interesting reading and note it reports the period prior to the Sun "coming out" for leave so the figures were probably even worse in the end.
Regarding the BBC coverage: the BBC seemed to go with the doctrine that "balance" means all claims are given a reply, and Boris astutely used that to insert his sloganeering in every article. There were cases when the reverse was not true though. This may be the fault of the remain campaign for not being as media savvy than Johnson (who is, primarily, a media manipulator). In any case I think the doctrine is wrong. When it is evident that one side is lying, a public service broadcaster with an educational remit has a duty to tease out the truth, not to slavishly provide balanced air time. Also this policy made it seem that as many people in positions of responsibility backed leave as remain, but really we just kept hearing from the same few people over and over.
So the BBC was not hostile, whereas the print media most assuredly was.
A victory for Richard Dodgy Dealings Desmond, Rupert Friends in Downing Street Murdoch and non UK taxpaying Daily Mail and General Trust.
Oh and on the independence question, polling evidence showed that if the UK voted out of the EU, support in Scotland for independence would jump by 6%. The second independence referendum has a definite chance of success if we allow things to sink that far.
Just been reading the press releases from May, Johnson et al launching their leadership bids - some of it sounds surprisingly more left-wing than some Labour candidates with the focus on the 'working-class' (wo)man. Strangely, no-one is mentioning Article 50.
Just heard that Boris has pulled out of the leadership contest - So he has some shame? Maybe he has just worked out that he'd rather someone else mess up the next year or two and then rise from the ashes.
I have a theory - or a suspicion, rather.
I suspect that Boris made a really crashing miscalculation - I suspect he never wanted us to leave Europe; I supect that he was pretty sure that the Remain camp would win; I suspect that he thought that by fighting a 'valiant but losing' campaign for Brexit he would become the absolute darling of the then seriously disgruntled Tory party's Eurosceptics and constituency members and would thus be in a strong position to be next leader.
He now finds himself with an even better chance of being leader than he'd gambled for, but knows that whoever leads the party for the mess we're going to be in for the next few years is going to be in a no-win situation.
I watched the big debate before the vote with a growing sense of anger because here was a man who very deliberately would not tell us anything about the plan forward, happily and deliberately lied about everything, but who was using all his powers of media manipulation and acting like he was in an Oxford debate club.
"Take control" he kept urging us, without telling us how or what. And as for the Independence Day closing speech... well to be honest, as the camera panned in close, giving him the perfect big finish, there was something in his eyes... I fancied then that he looked like he was scared that he had maybe been too successful.
In any case, it is almost a pity he was not handed the poison chalice and made to drink deeply. He may yet be forced to serve as foreign secretary for his sins.
What I don't get, however, is this: Boris is a liar. He has been sacked twice for lying. He was defended by the man he asked to beat up a journalist on his behalf, who said, essentially, that yes he is a liar but all politicians are and all journalists are.
he is such a deliberate and obvious and inveterate liar that he makes Donald Trump look like the truth fairy.
So why, oh why oh why was he ever allowed into a position where liars can wreck the country?
And with him gone, Gove "we don't need experts" is no better.
I keep asking myself who will vote Michael Gove other than Michael Gove, there is just something off-putting about him. There is something ironic about the fact that although Scotland voted overwhelmingly Remain the man who is leading the Leave lobby is Scottish.
I have a theory about Michael Gove: I think maybe he does not expect to win, but he just wished to politically assassinate Boris.
You see Gove is that scary thing: a man so consumed by his own sense that he knows better than everyone else, that he remains 100% committed to the full Brexit scenario. I think he wants no single market, no EU entanglements, and doesn't care what damage he causes to rights and the economy to get what he wants.
Boris, on the other hand, was probably never committed to anything of the sort, and certainly looked ready to cut a deal with the EU. He was definitely committed to remaining in the single market and probably would have backed out on Brexit if the EU had offered an attractive deal to stay in.
To Gove, Boris had served his purpose. He had manufactured the consent required on the one day it mattered, and given a mandate to wreck the country without a plan. That was what he needed Boris to do.
But Gove has a plan. He does not tell us what it is because no one could ever possibly vote for him if they knew. He has a plan but Boris was going to mess it all up, so Boris had to go.
To carry it through, of course, he does not need to be PM. He perhaps does not expect to win the leadership race, but all he needs to do is do well enough to cut a favourable deal with Theresa May. May is, I suspect, also much more Eurosceptic than she lets on. She is, after all, the one who want to repeal our human rights and listen to everything we say and have it all recorded. She kept a low profile in the campaign to remain acceptable to either side. I think Gove wants her to win, but in giving her his seal of approval, he hopes to win the right to negotiate the exit terms.
I would think I was being cynical, but frankly the last week has led me to the conclusion that to understand British politics, one must be much much more cynical than is good for you.
In any case with the announcement today from Labour that they won't fight Brexit, and the likelihood that the tories will end up with a leader who also wants it, I have today, for the first time in my life, joined a political party. And it is neither of those two!
I voted Leave, not because right now I think we'd be better off out of the EU, but in the long term I believe the EU is failing, largely because the Euro has pretty much failed. The enormous financial and unemployment problems in Southern Europe (combined with Brexit, if it actually happens) will IMO be the catalysts for the end of the EU, probably within 20 years. I don't want the UK to be dragged down with it. Obviously there's a fair bit of speculation there, and it's possible that the EU will manage to sort itself out and stabilise across the continent, but I don't think it will.
However I must say I am concerned about the whole referendum thing. It's clear that many many people voted Leave for some very misguided reasons - obviously there's some racism and xenophobia in there (sadly) but the majority IMO was simply to stick two fingers up to The Establishment. Understandable, without doubt, but foolish (even if I agree with the way they voted!)
I also think it's quite remarkable how bad the Remain campaign was, given that it lost to Farage and Johnson!
Re. Scotland, I don't think Nicola Sturgeon gives two hoots whether Scotland can get into the EU or not. Her target is, and always has been, Scottish Independence. If she can use this issue to push for that, she will, whether or not they are able to join the EU after Brexit and independence (if either happen.)
I know the noises coming out of all the Tory leadership candidates are saying that Brexit will happen, but you have to bear in mind that all of these people are trying to become Prime Minister - the peak of their profession. In common with most politicians, they will say what they feel they need to say to win, and once they've won they will proceed on their course irrespective of what they've said beforehand.
Similarly the EU are saying "Right, you voted out, now get on with it." But Brexit will hurt the EU as well - we're the second largest benefactors of the EU behind Germany, and obviously they will miss that. I expect behind-the-scenes talks aimed at keeping us in, whilst not losing face. So I think we will see some concessions - not ones that specifically benefit the UK but ones that the UK support but have not been able to push through. Adjustments such as the free movement of labour being changed to only allow residency for EU nationals that have a job offer, for example.
And I think that will be enough that the next Government decide either to simply not trigger Article 50, or put it to a second referendum based on those changes, which will probably be won by Remain, as it will appease enough of the Leave voters to swing the required 2% or more.
With both major parties currently trying their best to implode, I wouldn't be surprised to see a new party formed from the Right of the Labour party and the Left of the Tories. Which would basically end up being the LibDems under a new banner. How successful that would be, I don't know.
We shall see. Whatever does happen, it's going to be an interesting next couple of years. And if we do actually exit, it's going to be a tough decade or so, but IMVHO it will be for the better in the long run.
Sorry for the long post!
Points to consider:
1. The view that the Euro is a failed project that will bring the EU down is a popular one, born out by some very serious difficulties that have been caused by failures to make structural reforms when they were needed. However the story is a complex one, and looking at it more deeply there is a question as to whether the single currency is truly unworkable or whether it is just the implementation that is at fault. It is a serious pressure on the economies of the Euro zone countries, but my feeling is that ultimately it will succeed. There are a number of ways it can be made to succeed and at worst we will see *some* countries spinning out of the currency, but not its total collapse. I think total collapse in my lifetime is very unlikely. That, of course, is a judgement issue that we might disagree on, but:
2. Being out of the EU does not, in my opinion, protect us in any way from the fall out of a Eurozone failure. As long as our trade is so deeply imbedded with the EU (and failing a plan to tow the UK to the south seas, it will be) we will be deeply affected by any economic collapse in that zone, whether we are in the EU or not. On the one hand we could be more deeply hit, being outside the single market, although on the other hand, we may have lost so much European business by then that the further losses will be softened a little...but the end result is still the same. Note that a lot of countries in the EU are outside the Euro zone, and as long as we were in the EU we had powers to stand with them to ensure that, as far as possible, Euro currency failures would not be paid for by non euro member states.
3. Nicola Sturgeon does indeed want independence, but the viability of an independent Scotland is entirely predicated on being independent within the larger union. I don't disagree that she is using this to get what she wants, but don't underplay her pro-EU agenda. That is real too.
4. I think a new party is indeed a possibility. My worry is it will go the way of the SDP. Defeated by the UK democratic deficit and failure to enact electoral reform (despite the Electoral Reform Society being the oldest such society in existence). I am not sure how many Tories it will attract but there is a distinct possibility that Labour will split this way and perhaps merge with the Liberal Democrats to form a new progressive party on the centre left of British politics. I repeat the caution though. No one wants to repeat the SDP experience and a large swathe of British politics is currently tribal - a level of inertia that it would be hard to break.
5. It is primarily Juncker who wants us to get on with it, and despite his "expectation" that after the election article 50 will be enacted within days, I don't see what he can do about that. Indeed there is something of a backlash against him as being one of the prime brakes on EU reform that could see him ousted soon. That would not be such a bad thing in my opinion, because as you say, behind the scenes there is a definite will to reform the EU. Whether the UJK leaves or not, the EU knows it must change and it will change. My hope is that change can happen soon enough that a new government can say "look, this has been achieved, now why would you leave when you can get what you want?"
The problem is that free movement of labour *is* fundamental to a genuinely free market (and incidentally essential to the UK's future). As you suggest, however, there could be some changes to that. Whether it be the requirement to have a job offer, or an annual limit, or an emergency brake or something much more clever that I cannot imagine, it may be that such a thing will be offered. It won't be offered just to Britain though - it has to be there for all members. The idea that the UK could cut a more favourable access to the single market outside the EU is surely a pipe dream: EU leaders are not going to create any incentive for more countries to leave. Rather they need to create the incentive to stay. They need to deal with the issues that are worrying people, and if that issue is around the free movement principle then any changes will apply to all members... possibly even all EU members but NOT the UK! Remember that once we trigger article 50, 27 countries get to negotiate our terms of exit for us and without us, and all 27 have the power of veto. Will all 27 want to reward the UK for leaving?
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