June 23, 2016 is the date of the referendum. On that date, the people of the United Kingdom (of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) will vote on the question of whether to remain a part of the European Union.
I am not eligible to vote. But if I were, I would without hesitation vote Leave.
#Brexit. An unusual little symbol of an opportunity that comes along less frequently than a blue moon. In fact, this opportunity is of staggering historical importance, and much more so than the original decision to enter the European Economic Community (EEC) back in 1973. The EU has evolved into something more damaging that I suspect even the harshest British critics of the EEC would have imagined possible.
Much hype, scaremongering, huffing and puffing together with the tried and tested lies and deception will dominate the media, the social media and conversations among the buildings that line Whitehall over the next few months.
Most of the arguments for the case to Remain in the EU centre on just two points:
- Now is not the time to leave the EU. It’s a dangerous world out there and who knows what could happen. We are safer in than out.
- Britain depends on Europe for many jobs and capital. Getting out would seriously hurt the economy and send us back to the economic dark ages.
This is where deception rolls up its sleeves and gets cracking. These arguments assume, without explicitly saying so or establishing the case, that withdrawing from the EU would, as a consequence, result in no trade, co-operation or investment at all with other EU members. That is called begging the question and it’s completely false.
International trade, investment and co-operation occur where they are in the interests of both parties, without the precondition that a political union exists. EU members will not stop trading with Britain or visiting Buckingham Palace just because Britain is no longer a member. If that were the case, then EU members would not be trading with China, US, Australia or OPEC. Britain’s number 1 export market is the US. It’s number 1 import market is China. I can’t imagine the Chinese or the US agonizing over the future of that trade just because the UK is no longer in the EU. The French security authorities will not stop co-operating with Scotland Yard in counter-terrorism activities just because Britain left the EU. If that were the case, the French would not be co-operating with the US and Russia as they currently do in Syria. The scaremongering is over-egged.
This is not really an economic argument. It is a titanic struggle between on the one hand the transnational progressives that dominate Western elitist political institutions, much of the media and academia and, on the other, those that favour the democratic nation state. The elitist progressives disdain democracy as too full of uninformed, unwashed and backwards red-necks. That perceived moral superiority requires supra-national authority, derived without reference to the ballot-box, to deliver its preferred world view. The elitists will try to use economic doomsday arguments to scare the ordinary voter, who, by and large has good reason to be scared: the inexorable rise of Government power and influence over daily life has left so many particularly vulnerable.
The UK is special. England produced the Magna Carta. From that seminal agreement came personal liberty, freedom of speech and the supremacy of the vote of the people. From that developed secure property rights, transparent taxation, separation of powers, and parliamentary democracy. From that sound base, the English became a global force and exported to some other fortunate countries (including Australia) the foundations of a free society, a democratic nation state. These foundations are worth fighting for. What began as a European free trade economic community in the 1950s subsequently morphed into a force in direct conflict with the foundations necessary for a democratic nation state and a free people.
This is why the referendum in June is so important for the people of the UK. It is equally important for Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians who value these principles and need them defended.
Astute observers will recognise that the UK itself is a political union. It has been around for over 300 years or so, but nonetheless, is a supranational authority. Let’s get over June 23rd, 2016 first before we turn our attention to that one.