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Brexit – the argument from confusion

A common complaint made by Remainers is that Brexiteers constantly say wrong things about what the EU actually does and actually demands. I recall an entire round of the TV quiz show QI, presided over by the lordly Stephen Fry, devoted to exposing such fabrications. Bendy bananas, rules about rubbish disposal, that kind of thing. I can’t recall what all the alleged EU meddlings – there were about half a dozen of them – were. But I do clearly recall the QI verdict that came at the end of the round. Which of these claims is true, and which false?, asked Fry, with a tremendous air of impartiality. All, he subsequently announced, were false. The Brexiteers just do not get their facts right. They are wrong about bendy bananas, etc. etc. Therefore, the clear implication followed, the Brexiteers are wrong about everything, and Britain should Remain, in the EU.

I don’t trust QI about things like this. At the very least, I suspect that several of these situations were more complicated than Fry said, but that is not my central point here. Even supposing that QI had got all its facts right, I assert that this sort of confusion, rampant on both sides of this argument rather than just on the one side, is a major fault of the EU itself, at least as much as it is a fault of those who criticise, or for that matter who praise, the EU. Such confusion is built into the very way that the EU operates.

Someone proposes some new EU rule or regulation. If it is vehemently objected to, the proposers pull back, often claiming as they retreat that they “never intended” what they intended and will have another go at doing later when the fuss has died down. If, on the other hand – as is much more usual – nobody objects, the rule or regulation goes through, with no discussion. No wonder nobody knows what the hell all these rules consist of. They consist of mostly of those rules that have never been objected to by anyone, and hence never even talked about by anyone, except those who proposed the rules and who will profit from them in some way.

The Remainers say that us Brexiteers should become better acquainted with all these rules, that have never been discussed.

I say that all this confusion, inherent in the nature of the EU and ineradicable, is yet another reason for Britain to (Br)exit.

Discuss. And while discussing, note that any disagreements concerning the facts of what the EU does will only serve to confirm how right I am.

A ‘Ghastliness’ of Luvvies implores us to Remain in the EU

As if Brexit the Movie needed a counter, news reaches us of what appears to be a co-ordinated campaign amongst the ‘Luvvies’ (an affectionate (?) term for those who act or have acted for a living etc.) to implore us to remain in the EU.

By their friends shall ye know them.

“Britain is not just stronger in Europe, it is more imaginative and more creative, and our global creative success would be severely weakened by walking away.”

Well that is quite a remarkable claim. Would Shakespeare have produced better plays if the Spanish Armada had won? Have the Luvvies unleashed a Hellburner into the Leave campaign’s flotilla of arguments?

Who said anything about ‘walking away‘? Aren’t we quite happy where geography has put us?

But there is reputedly an economic angle:

Alan Johnson, chair of the Labour In for Britain campaign, said leaving the EU would mean higher tariffs on exports and digital and creative industries were “better off with the UK in EU” with access to the single market.

Good luck with tariffs on theatrical productions, and streaming.

A bit of balance in the article from Lord (Michael) Dobbs, a Conservative peer and author.

“Culture owes nothing to committees.
“Ancient Greece was the birthplace of our civilisation yet today, because of the EU’s appalling policies, streets that were once filled with the world’s greatest philosophers and playwrights are choked with desperate beggars and mountains of rotting rubbish.
“These are the realities of the EU. It’s failing. The dream is dead. We need to move on.”

I’m sure that Soviet and East German Culture owed a lot to the Central Committee, but let’s not go there.

“Wherever this is”

The Shadow Europe minister, Pat Glass, has had a bad day. According to “Politics Home”:

A Labour MP has apologised after branding a voter a “horrible racist” while campaigning for Britain to stay in the European Union.

Pat Glass, the Shadow Europe Minister, also said she was “never coming back” to Sawley in Derbyshire, after an exchange with a member of the public about immigration.

According to BBC Radio Derby, the unnamed voter had referred to a Polish family living in the town as “scroungers”.

Ms Glass told the station: “The very first person I come to was a horrible racist. I’m never coming back to wherever this is.”

Following criticism of her remarks, the MP said: “The comments I made were inappropriate and I regret them. Concerns about immigration are entirely valid and it’s important that politicians engage with them.

“I apologise to the people living in Sawley for any offence I have caused.”

The row has echoes of Gordon Brown infamously being caught during the 2010 election campaign branding Gillian Duffy a “bigoted woman” after she challenged him on immigration from Eastern Europe.

Echoes of Gordon Brown’s encounter with Gillian Duffy it might have, but this was not a case of an “open mic”. Ms Glass did not have Gordon Brown’s excuse: like Emily Thornberry, she chose to say what she did to a mass audience. [Later edit: Commenter Cal has pointed out that accounts differ on that point. She may have thought the interview was over. But as Cal also says, it’s revealing that she felt free to express herself in those terms to BBC reporters.]

I would guess that the insult to Sawley, and by extension to all those places like Sawley that parliamentarians never visit except when a vote draws near, is a bigger vote loser than insulting one man. She made it clear that the stops on her campaign trail mean so little to her that she could not even be bothered to remember their names. Anyone who has been embarrassed by forgetting a name might have some sympathy with that, until Ms Glass compounds the offence by making it clear that she regards her presence in such a place as a privilege that can be withdrawn as a punishment.

Thought of the day…

It is quite possible the REMAIN side will win the vote regarding the UK’s membership of the sclerotic regulatory suicide club called the EU. This would be a horrendous outcome in my view, but there is something to keep in mind. The EU will be rocked by crisis in the future, that is a certainly, because it is intrinsically unstable. And that means even if the UK is still an EU member when that happens, the LEAVE/REMAIN vote can also happen again.

They have to win every single time.

We only have to win once.

Oh noez, Brexit be bad!

Just spotted this splendid summary of the dire consequences of Brexit:

6. The NHS will collapse as Bulgarian X-ray technicians head home, leaving thousands of Brits with badly-set broken limbs
7. When we tell German intelligence about terrorist threats, they will put their fingers in their ears and go ‘nah nah nah’ (actually, they probably do this already)
8. The British advance Battlegroup stationed on the Oder (two tanks, a platoon of RLC dog-trainers and a QM Sergeant) will be asked to return home

Check out the rest on Raedwald.

Samizdata quote of the day

But why should those of us who want to leave the EU feel any obligation to accept the particular vision of the UK’s future offered by Gove or anyone else? Why the insistence that we couldn’t vote to leave the EU without a clearly worked out plan about what happens next? The referendum question boils down to the question of control: who decides what the UK should do in relation to the economy, immigration, trade rules or anything else? Those things should be decided in Westminster, not Brussels.

Rob Lyons

Brexit: The Movie

I am watching Brexit: The Movie. I am only about half an hour in and I am learning a lot. I did not realise how little power the European Parliament had or how many different councils and presidents there were. The tone is measured and reasonable, rather than polemical and raving, which makes it useful and easy to share widely. I understand that it focuses on economic issues, which might even change the minds of those who think anti-EU sentiment is confined to xenophobics. The production standards are very high, too.

I wonder if it will get any publicity in the mainstream press.

Samizdata quote of the day

There are many, many reasons why the UK economy remains skittish and the global recovery extremely patchy – and almost all of them predate not only this referendum campaign but even the announcement the UK electorate was to be given its first say on our relationship with Europe since the mid-1970s. Yet, while real investors fret about the prospect of another sub-prime style meltdown, a lack of genuine banking reform, the implosion of the eurozone, the lunacy that is negative nominal interest rates and now, we’re told, “helicopter money” – a kind of quantitative easing on steroids – it suits a wide variety of political and financial interests to blame every blip in the British and broader European economy on “the prospect of Brexit”.

Liam Halligan

A Poem of Two Chancellors

Regular commenter Niall Kilmartin started writing this poem as part of the Erdogan poetry competition but found his thoughts turning in a different direction:

*

        A Poem of Two Chancellors

Though Erdogan is just the man to merit mocking poetry,
Another leader claims my pen, a graver cause is troubling me:
I write of Merkel’s acts because they do not cause me levity.
Oh Angela, was Adolf’s far-from-noble dream once also thine?
I doubt it, yet it’s you, not he, who makes your country Judenrein
(And these days PC tells the Jews it’s hate speech if they dare to whine).
“The best man for the job? Why, choose a woman!” – that’s a bitter joke
When calling doubters ‘Nazis’ is the means by which you meanly cloak
What kind of ‘refugees’ are brought by all this ‘kindness’ you invoke.
We know they’re really migrants since we see they mostly are young men.
We know young men commit most crimes in any group – it follows, then,
That their rate (high enough at home), must here be multiplied again.
Think you, if most of them don’t kill, it will not be like World War Two?
(When, as you know, most Germans did not personally kill a Jew;
When most are scared or hate-filled, acts of killing only need a few.)
Now each one missed by Hitler will be hissed or spoken of likewise
By migrants who care not if they are heard by one, percentage-wise
from that subgroup who won’t just talk but will make sure that that Jew dies.
At least I can be glad most Jews you rule can flee abroad (absurd
that they’ll be refugees for real – and so will be by you ignored).
A few new graves, attracting vandals hypocritically deplored,
Alone will then commemorate them, those canaries in the mine.
Oh Angela, was Adolf’s far-from-noble dream once also thine?
I doubt it, yet it’s you, not he, who makes your country Judenrein.

*

These two lines made the poem for me:

A few new graves, attracting vandals hypocritically deplored,
Alone will then commemorate them, those canaries in the mine.

Over-fearful? I would be glad to think so. I usually do think so. But the quickest of internet searches throws up recent news stories like this one from Spiegel Online International, “Skepticism of German-Israeli Friendship Growing in Berlin”, and this one from Deutsche Welle (DW), “Immigrants Beyond the Law”. The latter story says that migrants from warzones such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are not particularly criminal but says, ‘It is a completely different story with immigrants from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia though. “Activity quotas” for North Africans are no less than 40 percent.’ Wow. You would never guess from the strapline and first few paragraphs of the DW story that it contained such a statistic as that. Such evasion is typical and does much to increase mistrust.

A good pro-EU argument?

I am at Brian Micklethwait’s place for his latest Friday. This argument against leaving the EU was made (I am literally live blogging, this is breaking news!): The good thing about Brussels is that it is impossible to be emotionally attached to it. This weakens the state.

Interesting discussion is now ensuing. And we have not even got to the speaker yet.

Hardly a surprising conclusion, but surprising to see pro-EU Reuters run this…

I find this self-evident:

Patrick Minford, a professor of economics at Cardiff University, said Britain should rely on tariff levels agreed at the World Trade Organisation, and that scrapping the EU’s external tariffs would lower consumer prices by 8 percent, and boost gross domestic product by 4 percent after around 10 years.

The benefits of bilateral trade deals were overrated and a lot of foreign investment was drawn to Britain by its underlying competitive strengths rather than its access to the rest of the EU, Minford said at a news conference in London organised by economists who support a so-called Brexit.

“There is no need for us to go off chasing a million trade deals with the rest of the world. They are irrelevant,” he said.

But given the flood of pro-EU scare stories that Reuters tends to run, I was a bit surprised to see it get some pixels there.

Samizdata quote of the day

The referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU has thrown many things into sharp relief. It has made more visible the fraying of the Tory Party that has been brewing for a few decades now. It has demonstrated that the politics of fear is everywhere, being peddled by both the Leave and Stay campaigns, and even being openly celebrated by one pro-EU columnist on the basis that ‘fear alone has a purity you can trust’. But most strikingly, the referendum campaign has confirmed the death, or at least utter exhaustion, of a left that believes in democracy, in change, in people. In throwing its weight behind the Stay campaign, having historically been suspicious of the EU, the left has completed its journey from demanding democracy to supporting technocracy.

Brendan O’Neill