Monday, January 18, 2016

The Worst of Both Worlds, part II

There are intelligent people on both sides of the EU debate. There are people making constructive points on both sides of the EU debate. But my word, I'm getting really fed up with the rest of them on both sides.

So here's today's examples of an egregiously stupid "Leave.EU" graphic that made me want to vote Remain and an equally stupid piece of scaremongering by a "Remain" supporter which made me want to vote "Leave."

I started with the "Remain" threats last time so let's alternate and start with the "Leave.EU" nonsense this time. They tweeted this graphic yesterday ...

"Er - like William Hague?"

The founder of the "Keep the Pound" campaign is one of a number of people who were dead against joining the Euro but are now supporting a "Remain" vote. It is a perfectly consistent position - he also used the European election slogan "In Europe, not run by Europe"

Two other people who had rather important roles in keeping Britain out of the Euro and ensuring that we still have the pound but who are not arguing for Brexit are Sir John Major and Nick Herbert.

John Major was the Prime Minister who refused to sign up for the Euro when it was first created and secured the opt-out at Maastricht which means we are one of only two countries (the other is Denmark) which are not required to plan to join even "when conditions are right."

Nick Herbert was Chief Executive of "Business for Sterling." He has just launched "Conservatives for Reform in Europe," a campaign which will work for reform. This was presented by the media as a group which was working for reform rather than Brexit: to be clear, Nick Herbert explains in this BBC interview that he supports the Prime Minister's efforts to negotiate reform but is waiting to see what is delivered before deciding whether to vote "Remain" or "Leave."

Here is an article which lists the top five Britons who, in the opinion of the article's author Nicholas Watt, did more than anyone else to keep Britain out of the Euro and explains why. I might quibble about the order, but I broadly agree with his list and his arguments: it consists of John Major, Ed Balls, Martin Wolf, Gordon Brown, and William Hague.

And do you know what?

Every one of those five currently backs "remain."

Anyone reading this will probably already be aware that John Major and William Hague have recently made statements in favour of the "remain" side of the debate.

Ed Balls, who persuaded Gordon Brown to stop Blair and Mandelson bouncing us into the Euro told the British Chambers of Commerce last year when he was shadow chancellor that EU exit is the biggest risk to our economy in the next decade.

Gordon Brown himself is signed up to the "Remain" campaign.

And FT journalist Martin Wolf, who as Chief Economics Correspondent of that paper was one of the most prominent journalistic critics of Euro membership in the nineties and the early years of this century, recently wrote an article headlined "A vote for BREXIT is a leap into the abyss," adding:

"The big argument against is that the UK, with less than 1% of the world's population and less than 3% of its' output, can achieve what it wants more effectively from within the European club. The UK's main allies believe the latter. So do I."

Ironically, so far as I am concerned, the Leave.EU graphic above is the biggest own goal of the campaign so far because, having thought when I saw it "that's misleading, surely" they motivated me to check the position. In the process they drew to my attention the fact that almost all the key figures on both sides of the debate about whether we should join the Euro are now lining up for "Remain."

The arguments for EU exit are not the same as those for staying out of the Euro and are far more complex.

But on the other hand ...

Although there has been a lot of nonsense from the competing "leave" campaigns, the blatant and childish scaremongering by some "remain" supporters has also been very silly. Here's today's example.

Labour MEP Paul Brannen suggested in a letter to Tory MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan that leaving the EU could lead to the formation of a new Hadrian’s Wall. Guido Fawkes quoted him here as saying:
“Maybe it hasn’t occurred to southern Tory MPs that advocating EU withdrawal could well lead to a modern day version of Hadrian’s Wall being erected here in the North East and Cumbria.”
Good grief. I laughed at this comment: I laughed with Guido's response to it:

"Wasn’t Hadrian’s Wall built by a vast, overbearing, undemocratic European Empire, intent on eroding sovereignty and bringing the entire continent under its control?"

Indeed, and there are several other reasons why this is nonsense.

If a vote to leave the EU did result in a second Scottish referendum, and Scotland then voted to leave the UK, then at the present price of oil the newly-independent Scottish government would have far too big a hole in its' budget to be able to afford the expense of building a vast wall along the border!


Jim said...

I would have posted something on this, but A blogger, Tony E, has said all that needs to be said already.

Chris Whiteside said...

I agree with a lot of the article you linked to: in particular that there should be only one referendum, if it goes for "LEAVE" the UK should invoke article 50 and stick with it, and that there are charlatans on both sides.