Why Irish Socialists Should Vote to Leave the EU

This post is something of an appeal. If you’re reading this try to ignore everything I’ve ever written or said before about Socialism. That’s not the point of this article. This is all about the EU Referendum and I’d like the argument contained in this post to stand on its own two feet. In short, try to forget that I’m a free market Libertarian. Focus only on the argument, not the arguer.

So here goes. My point is that if you are an Irish Nationalist Socialist, Irish Republican Socialist or Northern Ireland Socialist the best way to vote in the upcoming EU Referendum is to vote for the UK to leave the EU. My argument is that the UK leaving the EU suits your cause better.

Here’s why.

  • First of all, a leave vote is a vote against the British establishment. Just think about it, big business, private equity firms, the Sauv-Blanc-swilling City types all want you to vote to remain. Even the CBI, the mouth-piece of big business, wants you to vote remain. The back-bone of the British establishment. So kick them where it hurts. Vote to Leave.
  • The entire Irish establishment wants you to vote remain. The same crowd that oversaw the banking crisis, the bank bailout, the state bailout, and the austerity program, the failed bankers, the pigs that had their heads in the trough during the Celtic Tiger years, all these people want you to vote remain. I recently attended a brexit debate organised by the (bailed-out) AIB Bank in Dublin. The room was packed with bankers…bankers everywhere appalled that they had a Brexiter in their midst (me). Let’s tell them what we think of their incompetence and their failed investments. Let’s Vote to Leave. 
  • Some of Irish Socialism’s greatest supporters in Britain plan to vote to leave. Tony Benn would, had he been alive, been campaigning for a leave vote. Jeremy Corbyn voted to leave the EEC in 1975 – at a time when the EEC was more like a free trade area than the political union it is now. And, of course, George Galloway, will be voting to leave. Show solidarity to Socialists who have supported your cause. Vote to Leave.
  • You might have the impression that those nice lefty organisations like Friends of the Earth, and those nice border bodies that encourage peace and reconciliation (like the Centre for Cross Border Studies) are all behind a remain vote. Hardly surprising, of course, when they are funded by the EU. If you are concerned by inequality in Ireland, look no further than those bodies funded by the EU and at the salaries they are paid. Ask yourself, are those arguing loudest about the merits of the EU in the pocket of the EU? When you are satisfied with the answer then vote to leave.
  • If you’re an Irish Socialist you may also be a Nationalist. You’ll have aspirations toward Irish independence, and the establishment of an all-Ireland Socialist government in Dublin. But if you were to win independence and Irish unification, wouldn’t it be bitter-sweet if you found that a unified, independent Ireland was, in fact, just a puppet state, told what to do by Brussels. After all you’ve had a taste of this. The austerity programme was mandated by the EU. The EU ignored the referendum vote against the Lisbon Treaty and insisted the Irish vote again until they voted the right way. So if you want a truly independent Ireland vote leave and then encourage your Socialist friends South of the border to start campaigning for Ireland to vote to leave the EU as well.
  • Britain and Ireland have had a troubled history. But there is peace. Our two countries have never been closer. Remember that the modern British Labour Party was born in Belfast. Remember that many of the largest trade unions organise across the UK and Ireland. If you want to campaign for worker rights the best place to achieve them is here, on home turf. So, on June 23, vote leave.


  • Badhaggis

    The big picture of Galloway’s not going to particularly convince many Socialists (given how badly he’s viewed on most of the Left).

    Kicking the ‘establishment’ is all well and good, but the same establishment would be in control regardless of whether we’re in the EU or not.

    You also seem to have forgotten the fact that Corbyn’s since decided to back a vote for Remain (even if it’s not on the same platform as the official campaign).

    As for “Our two countries have never been closer.” could that not have something to do with being in the same pan-national European organisation?

    There is a valid Left case for Leave, but you’re not making it here.

  • Gary Thompson

    Nice to see yet another person able to divine what Tony Benn would do were he alive today. Any update on how David Bowie & John Lennon would vote? I know the issue is complicated, but having swivel eyed loonies like Michael Gove & Nigel Farage in the Brexit corner does the argument no favours at all, never mind gorgeous George. If you think socialism will be brought closer by the UK being out of a (however) loose European ‘confederation’ of nations I don’t see that you have made the argument. If the UK were to leave, surely a more likely outcome would be a lurch to the right, protectionism, the rise of the xenophobes etc. Unless that’s what you’re counting on, and if it’s bad enough the people will (eventually) take to the barricades?

  • Ernekid

    Jeff you’ve proved to have an incredibly naive view of both Socialism and Irish Nationalism. Socialists aren’t like Harry Enfield’s character Kevin the Teenager complaining about how things aren’t fair and wanting to blindly flail against ‘the establishment’. As a someone with views that can be described as ‘Socialist’ I want to make society more equal for people so more people have a greater chance of opportunity. The best way to do that is to work with the preexisting regional, national and supranational bodies.

    The EU is an excellent forum for socialism and those on the left to collaborate in order to work together and make lives better for everyone on the continent. The Party of European Socialists in the EU parliament has allowed all of the major socialist groups in the EU to work together and be more effective than they would individually. The EU has brought in massively important workers protection regulations, Health and Safety and working times rules that benefits workers.
    Then when you think about the enormous crisis of climate change that is facing human civilisation. The only way we can successfully deal with it is by properly working together on a European level. We shouldn’t pull up the drawbridge and stop working with our neighbours. Rising sea levels don’t pay attention to national borders.

    As for what Tony Benn thinks, he was a man who was definitely a product of his time. Applying what someone thought of European cooperation in the 1970s to European cooperation in the 2010s is a bit foolhardy. I liked a lot of what Benn had to say but he’s not the patron saint of Lefties.

    As Irish nationalism. Until we can know otherwise we can only assume with information now available that The UK Leaving the EU will lead to the securitisation of the Irish border as it will become an external frontier between the EU and a non EU member state. I somewhat doubt that building border posts between Belcoo and Blacklion will do much to further the cause of Irish unity. The EU has acted as a forum that has helped transform Anglo-Irish relations in recent decades. Brexit would do serious harm to how Britain and Ireland interact.

    This is weak sauce Jeff even by your standards. If you handed into a teacher you’d get it back covered in Red pen.

  • Jeffrey Peel

    I take your point about Corbyn. On this and many issues I think expediency is getting in the way of his long held views. As for our two nations never being closer – no, I disagree that it’s much to do with the EU at all. The closer relationship is based on two nations and governments working better, trading better, and maintaining the common travel area. The UK and Ireland had a single market long before the EU ever envisaged one. Plus I don’t think the EU mandated the Queen’s visit to Ireland or her speaking Irish at the banquet. Similarly, the EU didn’t have any involvement in the Irish President’s visit to Britain. Nor was there any EU requirement for the UK to support Ireland’s bail-out. Rather the EU has consistently meddled in Irish affairs, bullying Ireland to reduce corporation tax (which she has steadfastly refused to do), insisting on referendum re-runs, insisting on repatriating profits from US companies resident in Ireland.

    I admit I’m not best placed to make the valid case for the Left to vote leave. But voting to stay (by rote) is something that needs to be challenged. I’m simply challenging it. I’ll leave others (hopefully on the Left) to refine the argument.

  • Jeffrey Peel

    Well as Tony Benn led the 1975 leave campaign and was a life-time opponent of the UK’s membership of the EU, I think it’s a fair assumption.

  • Jeffrey Peel

    The common travel area will continue – and that has been made clear by just about every senior speaker on the leave side including Teresa Villiers.

    As for the EU bringing in such important worker rights, why do you assume that you need the EU to do this? Why not seek to improve worker rights right here in the UK and Ireland? But my comments over…off to make some money…

  • Ernekid

    The reason why the EU is important for workers rights is that acts as a firewall against the b*******ds in the Tory party trying to gut them.

    There’s no guarantee the common travel area will continue in a post Brexit scenario. If the Brexiteers want to leave the EU to control their borders then why would they be happy with an open 350 mile long border in the Irish countryside? As for Villiers if I said what I truly think of her Id get moderated by Mick pretty quickly.

  • Gary Thompson

    But’s that all it is – an assumption, and you can’t use it as support for your argument, as no-one can know.You may as well say that James Connolly or Patrick Pearse would be in favour of Brexit. If all you can call on is an assumption of how a dead man may vote, you really have a weak argument. I notice you didn’t address any of my other points.

  • Paul Hagan

    “Remember that many of the largest trade unions organise across the UK and Ireland” and all these trade unions have called for an “IN” vote! The EU has continually protected the rights of working people for decades, eg. the social chapter. Jeremy Corbyn has also called for an “IN” vote, sadly we’ll never know Tony Benn would have voted, his son, wants an “IN” vote though. A Brexit would leave the Tory party and big business better-placed to make the UK (all the UK) a worse place for the worse-off. British, Irish and internationalists socialists should vote “IN” and likley will.

  • Surveyor

    The chairman of the Vote Leave campaign Nigel Lawson says otherwise.

  • Kevin Breslin

    British right winger tells Irish socialism he knows their priorities better than they know themselves irony.

    Could the same British right winger also want to leave the EU because he fears it’s also too socialist for his tastes, since the likes of Merkel and Cameron are “statists”?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Custom posts or checks are 99% unavoidable on the Irish border Jeff if there’s a Brexit, that 1% relies on Irish unity one way or the other or both nations giving up separate sovereignty over customs to a third party again.

    These are facts, not scare stories.

  • Redstar

    I see where you’re coming from Jeff and fair play to you. I could also add that a vote for Brexit in the highly likely event of a high ” stay” vote in Scotland- could lead to a rapid disintegration of the U.K.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The EU keeps open borders with non-EU countries. What is likely to happen is Leave side will try to close down the border in Ireland if they ever get to power simply to aesthetically look like they are doing something over immigration.

    The biggest threat to CTZ is overboard British Euroskepticism.

    Enforcing complicated deportation processes are simply going to be abandoned for aesthetic shows of strength that have no logistical benefit to tackling the real problems of migration.

    The Australian points system doesn’t stop foreign criminals from coming to Australia, Criminals have a nasty habit of breaking the law.


    I mean the Leave group aren’t exactly going to thank the EU for ensuring nations shared intelligence in order to stop an import of guns into these islands that originated in Slovakia.

    They are going to say that because EU citizens can travel anywhere they want in the EU including the UK, that means non EU citizens can smuggle guns, explosives and human trafficking victims through airports and ferries and Brits are effectively discriminated against because if they do that, it’s criminal.

    Newsflash, it’s criminal for any EU citizen to do that in any EU country.

    It’s not the right to control borders, it’s the right to discriminate which is wanted. Harare Declaration and Magna Carta rights be damned.

  • chrisjones2

    ” sadly we’ll never know Tony Benn would have voted”

    Yes we do – he made it very clear that its an undemocratic ‘capitalist club’

  • murdockp

    Not convinced, the above arguments are thin indeed.

    It is true that Cameron et al want to stay in, but that is all about the world stage, power, Nato, G7 and bugger all to do with ordinary people.

    Voting to leave will remove at a stroke the free market checks and balances which keep the city of London in check (even thought we all know many of these have failed) imagine what the city of London will look with unchecked capitalism and Osborne and His cronies free from the shackles of regulation? . It will be Hong Kong on steroids.

    The inclusion of France in the EU brings many social protections that otherwise would not exist in the UK.

    The inclusion of Germany has brought technical efficiency to industry and helped the UK trade Unions and Employers wake up to the 21 Century way of manufacturing which has helped people keep jobs.

    The farming industry in is current form would not exist without Europe.

    In short, the socialist argument to leave could be reversed to stay quite easily.

  • chrisjones2

    Thats a matter for the EU. And if Ireland chooses to remain in the EU when her biggest customer exists that is her choice

  • chrisjones2

    He seemed almost in tears as he was forced to speak in favour of remain

  • chrisjones2

    Scotland cannot afford to go – the oil price crash has taught them a lesson – but if they do that is their choice. Hey – its democracy and the UK will then be relieved of another £7bn annual bill

  • Kevin Breslin

    If the Irish government leave the EU, that doesn’t change anything. Before both nations joined the EU, there were customs posts and checks since partition at least after a 6 year trade war and the war of independence of course.

    No sovereign nation in the world has an total Free Trade Agreement with the EU, being outside the EU (with the arguable exceptions of certain European micro-states like the Vatican City State) across all goods because of the Common Agricultural Policy, WTO rules and well nations basically wanting free trade from others but protectionism for themselves.

    The British and Irish are no different, and they have never ever been the special case here.

    The Leave side solution to the (free) trade issues with Brexit is to tell people that every other nation in the world should hand over their trading sovereignty to Westminster for a unilateral trade deal decided on the floor of the Commons.

    It plays great to the masses, but plays terribly to anyone who actually has thought about diplomacy or trade with any great effort.

    Either it’s done in the transparency of the EU or it’s done in the completely privacy of former palaces as was the case in 1960’s and before. Effectively the public reneges on scrutiny.

    No UKIP or Socialists get to bad mouth the likes of TIPP as governments can aspire to cover up negotiations between them.

    It’s a self-indulgent fantasy and nothing else at best, dishonest propaganda at worst.

    Another thing to remember the Irish have referendums because it’s a republic, and a man took the government to court to ensure that referendums were made on treaties.

    British people don’t get a direct say in treaties and the Swiss actually voted against having a say/veto in their government’s trade arrangements with the EU.

    The UK will have had 3 referendums on AV, Scottish and EU, it is moving towards direct democracy but it will be at a slow pace. No one is bringing trade treaties into the fold however.

    The No side on the Lisbon Treaty side could’ve offered alternatives, just like the No side on the Greek side … but this is only a unilateral response. No doesn’t mean the other side has to say Yes, just that you don’t say Yes.

    If the Irish people could find a way to leave the UK, they would have pretty much demanded a way out of the EU if that was their will.

    Diplomacy requires the serenity to know that you can ALWAYS break a relationship, but making a relationship is always at the mercy of the second party.

    The Lisbon Treaty was renegotiated, and British Eurosceptics should be happy that it was passed because if there is a Brexit, the UK has two years to avoid being pushed off the deep end.

    If the Leave side lose this referendum, how long until they will want another one, and wouldn’t that be hypocritical to bring up Lisbon Treaty if they do?

  • Kevin Breslin

    So was Enoch Powell … what Irish socialist would back his views … other than the common sense that the British Nuclear Deterrent is actually nothing more than an aggressive weapon of mass destruction, likely to provoke annihilation of Britain and perhaps Ireland if ever used.

  • Kevin Breslin

    How about Jeff Peel roles up his sleeves and help the “proletariat” get a hand up rather than trying to insult their intelligence by telling them how to think. Many blue collar workers would at least give the right a fair hearing if it actually helped improved their own lives, rather than simply be asked to be serfs to political agendas.

  • SDLP supporter

    What a silly piece. Since we are marking Shalespeare’s anniversary tomorrow, I offer this quote from the Bard to Jeffrey:
    “the Devil can quote scripture for his purpose” (The Merchant of Venice)
    and, of course, Matthew chapter 4.
    As for relying on Theresa Villiers for assurances on the CTA, the bloody woman is as interested in Northern Ireland as I am in the micro-economy of yak pelt trading in Outer Mongolia. She has even been contradicted by her own government on border posts and I’ll wager that she’ll not even be NI SoS this time next year.
    As they say in Connemara, “away up the yard with ye” Jeffrey! Or
    “get behind me, Satan!”

    BTW, are any of the SDLP-knockers on this site going to give any credit to SDLP (and Alliance) for being consistently pro-Europe since 1970, unlike some other parties I could mention? Nah, didn’t think so.

  • Redstar

    My point is it will be absurd to expect Scotland to remain in the UK if it votes strongly for staying in EU and Brexit wins overall.

    For many of us such a collapse of the U.K. would be no bad thing and there would be many soft unionists who may be uneasy at NI being at the mercy of chinless wonders from Southern England when it comes to fair shares for the regions remaining in the rump

  • Jeffrey Peel

    Ah that’s it. You’d prefer to support the unelected politburo that is the EU Commission because you can’t get elected here. Figures.

  • Neil

    The reason why the EU is important for workers rights is that acts as a firewall against the b*******ds in the Tory party trying to gut them.

    Nailed it. The idea that we’d be better with the Tories in charge of employment rights, human rights or any other right over and above some bureaucrat in the EU is ridiculous.

    If you want the Tories to make it so you can be fired at will, with no redundancy payments, vote leave.

    If you want the Tories to rip up the human rights act, vote leave,

    The truth is some Irish socialists should vote leave, and some should not, much the same as every other demographic. This one doesn’t break down by political ideology. Unionists don’t support leave, nor do the centre right, or centre left, or any other group. It cuts across the dividing lines. So vote how you feel you should, but beware Tories promising gifts.

  • Neil

    You’d prefer to support the unelected politburo that is the EU Commission because you can’t get elected here

    Guffaw. And how well have the Tories been doing in local elections Jeff? Still seeking that elusive first win?

  • Kevin Breslin

    I don’t get any election to the beaurocrats the UK would otherwise appoint to negotiate trade deals in palaces. I know the UK government could sack Lord Hill from his post if he wanted to, but to believe the UK should have the right to tell other nations they don’t have the right to do the same and they have no right to be at the negotiation table at all is condensing to the sovereignty of other nations.

    You expect me to buy the argument that my region’s puny 1/34th stake in the UK is somehow more powerful than the UK’s own 1/28th stake in the Commission, or that its 1/8th stake in the Common Market or its 1/9th stake in the European Parliament.

    Ireland is a lot smaller but benefits from less demagogery and agitprop and developing pan-European networks to boost productivity.

    No one is so stupid to believe that somehow the deficit goes if a nation leaves the EU. Countries like Ukraine who’s never been in the EU is bankrupt and bailed out too. Germany and Greece suffered massive hyperinflation and depression during the post war period.

    I’d take multicultralism over being forced to be a drone who’s job is to worship Adam Smith, believe everything the Daily Mail tells them to think and put two fingers in their ears to sing Rule Britanna or God Save the Queen whenever they have any doubts about the state that they live in.

  • Ernekid

    Odd that you cite the opinion of Mrs Theresa Villiers a women who has extensive powers over Northern Ireland yet not a single person resident in Northern Ireland has cast a vote for her. Then you have Mrs. Elizabeth Windsor, a fine woman and I wish her the best health in her advanced age but it’s not exactly as if she has any democratic legitimacy.

  • Skibo

    Where do you get this £7 billion bill. I thought during the Scottish vote that it was proved that Scotland actually paid more than they received?

  • Thomas Barber

    If I voted in British elections Ernekid I would vote to leave . The Pooling of Soverignty and the TTIP are two EU objectives being negiotated in secret by an unelected commission that will not only give more power to global corporations at government level coupled with the objective of tehering us to a commitment that would obligate us to defend and go to the aid of any European members who are attacked or threatened by other non member countries and with TTIP being implemented, that would include America . Irish people throughout the centuries have fought and died for almost a thousand years for the right to determine our own destiny and break a union that treated our people as useful monkeys, todays EU is no different.

  • Thomas Barber

    The EU commission are unelected by anyone they are all choosen by one person, the Commission chairman.

  • Jollyraj

    To be fair, your article does largely ride on the twin horses of: vote out because ‘business’ wants to stay in; and vote out because that’s what ‘leading’socialists want – and we can help them get what they want.

    I found the overall tone of the post to be one of condescension, which is always a risk when a middle class chap turns to address we, his working class brethern.

    And that is an opinion offered by someone who neither knows nor cares what you have previously written about Socialism.

  • Jollyraj

    sadly we’ll never know Tony Benn would have voted

    Nothing particularly sad about that. Unless his vote was worth more than anybody elses.

  • submariner

    Scotland has been proven to be a net contributor so Chris is as usual talking balls.

  • Skibo

    Thought so myself Sub. It takes an election for such figures to be resolved. I guess we will not know how much NI truly costs till there is a poll here too.

  • Croiteir

    Says who? It takes two to tango and just because Villiers says so does not mean it is so. The EU may well impose it in Belcoo as rigorously as Calais.

  • murdockp

    Interesting observations that are worthy of further debate.

    When you look at Ireland as a whole there are two nations. The ultra left wing north which is anti business and and many ways feels like a state out of the cold war, and the right of centre south which is pro business and is essentially the 51st State of the USA.

    I think the difference between them both is the free marketeers of NI have all flown the nest.

    Would love to read a study on NI emigration.

  • Hugh Davison

    And what’s wrong with drinking Sauvignon Blanc, exactly?

  • Hugh Davison

    They are all nominated by their (elected) National Governments.

  • Brian wilson

    My main reason for voting to stay in is the EU is the only way we can try to protect the people, trade unions, environment from the ravages of right wing extremists

  • Thomas Barber

    That still doesn’t mean any of the EU commisioners are elected by the people to act on our behalf or make decisions on our behalf.

  • Thomas Barber

    Kevin if the majority voted to leave, what difference would it make for us Irish citizens who hold Irish passports and were born in the British controlled non member part of Ireland ?

  • Angry Mob

    It might be a valid reason if it had any basis in truth. This misanthropic view that socialists have for the general electorate blinkers them into the short sighted “tories are evil” mindset which gives them a suitable pretext. We will have elections in less than 4 years, we probably will never get the opportunity to leave the EU again.

    As for EU offering protections I suggest you read up on the ILO, UNEP, UNFCCC and the IPCC. These are the bodies which relate to workers rights and the environment. When the EU is ‘making laws’ it merely references the standards that these international bodies are setting. This would become the EU acquis which would be required for continued trade not only with the EU but other world trading blocs.

  • Angry Mob

    Common Travel Area – Established 1923
    European Union – Established 1993

    70 years before we entered the EU we had a common travel area. As both nations are outside the Schengen Area and it’s in both nations interests it’s extremely likely that this will continue post-brexit.

  • Angry Mob

    The man is an eejit and the Vote Leave campaign won’t be negotiating our exit so what they say doesn’t really matter if we actually vote to leave.

  • Angry Mob

    Those are opinions Kevin, not facts.

  • Angry Mob

    “No sovereign nation in the world has an total Free Trade Agreement with the EU”

    Except for the following:

    Bosnia and Herzegovina
    Republic of Macedonia
    San Marino
    South Africa
    South Korea

    Many of which are also in the customs union.

  • Angry Mob

    Jeff, my advice is that the best use of your time would be to avoid wasting it trying to convince the hard liners as their mind has been made up for them and focus on the moderates who tend to be undecided as they’ve been bombarded with the lies of of the remain camp and the incompetence of vote leave.

  • Ernekid

    You don’t elect the heads of civil service departments and they make much more decisions that effect your daily life than any EU commissioner.

  • Angry Mob

    You don’t elect your boss either yet they can make decisions that can affect your life. Civil servants don’t have the right of initiative over laws or have control over the removal or amendment of existing laws. These powers are exclusive to the undemocratic EU commission to ensure they retain control.

  • Hugh Davison

    Hard to know how the arrangement can be further democratised.
    Should I have a vote on who the Hungarians, for example, decide who their commissioner is? Or on what commission he/she is responsible for? It is, after all, an executive function.
    The scope for complexity is infinite,.
    Even in a national democracy I don’t get a say in who will be minister of this or of that.

  • Hugh Davison

    Doesn’t the European Parliament (democratically elected) have that control over the commission?


  • Ernekid

    Who do think writes legislation AM? It’s civil servants. The blokes in Whitehall are the real government. The stuff across the road in Westminster is a sideshow.

  • Angry Mob

    They may write it but they do not enact it.

  • Angry Mob

    No, they’re merely puppets to give the illusion of democracy.

  • Hugh Davison

    Ah So.
    You don’t vote in European Elections, then. (Not even for Diane?)
    Because it’s only an illusion of democracy.
    Will you be voting in the upcoming assembly elections? After all, that is only an illusion of democracy innit?

  • Pasty2012

    “Tony Benn would, had he been alive, been campaigning for a leave vote. Jeremy Corbyn voted to leave the EEC in 1975 – at a time when the EEC was more like a free trade area than the political union it is now.” – Jeremy Corbyn has changed his mind and is now advocating voting to stay in and if he had still been alive there is nothing to say that Tony Benn would not have seen the current benefits and voted to stay in as well. That’s the thing, people can be swayed by the fact that it becomes more beneficial to be a member than to be an outsider when the club has grown to such an extent that it offers more perks for members than for non members. he says “Ask yourself, are those arguing loudest about the merits of the EU in the pocket of the EU? ” – can it not also be argued that those arguing to leave are those who in the pockets of Little Britain and likes of the English defence League ?

  • Pasty2012

    Scotland is a Net contributor to the UK Treasury so how does them leaving save you £7Billion ?

  • Pasty2012

    People can and do change their minds and the improvements due to EU Regulations in workers rights could have seen Tony Benn view being a member better for people in general than outside the club and under the Tory Boot. It is never good to state that someone now dead would vote in a certain way.

  • Randy McDonald

    None of these are total free-trade agreements.

  • Angry Mob

    In answer to your last question; no.

  • Gary Thompson

    So you can definitively say that none of the pro-Brexiters are in it for purely xenophobic reasons, and don’t care about the impact it may have on the country and/or general population? What about those like Boris Johnson who have made a political calculation that being on the exit side of the argument is more likely to deliver him into No. 10? Almost everyone in the public eye that has commented on this for one side or the other has a vested interest.. As I said in my original reply to Jeff, the personalities on the exit side are just too extreme for me. Most of them would want to leave even if it were to be proven categorically that it would be detrimental to the UK, because they hate Johnny Foreigner & can’t stand the thought that Europe has any say in the running of the country (no matter how beneficial it may be).

  • Angry Mob

    Ok, that’s a fair point because of the fact that there is no such thing as a “total free trade agreement”. You have a FTA or you don’t. Simples.

  • Reader

    Neil: If you want the Tories to make it so you can be fired at will, with no redundancy payments, vote leave.
    I don’t think it’s the EU that’s stopping them. I think it’s the voters.
    Neil: If you want the Tories to rip up the human rights act, vote leave,
    You’re confusing the EU with the ECHR, probably because they both have the word “European” in the title. The HRA is nothing to do with the EU, so the EU won’t stop the conservatives ripping up the HRA either. But if you know better, then better tell Amnesty International:

  • Reader

    Kevin Breslin: …and Magna Carta rights be damned.
    Could you be more specific – which clause of the Magna Carta is relevant here?
    As for your concern over the CTA, I believe that the strongest defenders of the CTA will be the Brexiters. The Irish government will be rather less certain they want to keep it.

  • Reader

    Then it probably makes sense just to use the British nuclear deterrent as a ‘deterrent’…

  • Reader

    Ernekid: Odd that you cite the opinion of Mrs Theresa Villiers a women who has extensive powers over Northern Ireland yet not a single person resident in Northern Ireland has cast a vote for her.
    Would it be OK with you if Cameron nominated Theresa Villiers for appointment to the EU Commission instead?

  • Superfluous

    The UK is economically to the right of the EU average. I very much doubt it’s going to lurch to the Left after a Brexit – more likely the Scots go into perma-rage boosting the SNP, and the Tories appoint Boris as the new Prime Minister.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I don’t disagree that vast majority on the Leave side would want the Common Travel Zone open, perhaps the vast majority. If it were up to the Eurosceptics in the Tories and Labour, most of the Eurosceptics in the unionists, most of the Eurosceptis who vote for the lefty groups typical of Galloway, and a fair few kippers as well.

    However there is a panicky fringe within this group and we see it with the likes of McNarry saying there may need to be checkpoints, and then there are the likes of Nutall who really doesn’t care. There are probably hardcore loyalists who will be happy to have it too. The arguement is not about keeping Irish out, but keeping other EU citizens out.

    If the UK accepts some free movement like Norway and Switzerland do, much of the plethora could be reduced, but the vast majority of the migration coming through the Republic of Ireland to get to the United Kingdom are not migrants that wish to settle in Northern Ireland anyway… Checkpoints would necessary as much needed for Northern Ireland routes across the Irish Sea as they would be the border with the Republic.

    Now I wouldn’t rule out the Irish government putting up checkpoints unilaterally or leaving the Common Travel Zone. I see no reason why it is either to the advantage of the Republic or the European Union to have it, since there has been very limited expansion of Schegen in Western Europe in recent decades.

    In other words I’ve yet to hear much call within the 26 counties to have them as yet.

    With regards to Magna Carta rights, some on the Eurosceptic fringes are obsessed with cruel and unusual punishments as the means for the UK carrying out internal housekeeping. I don’t see practices that encourage prejudice and discrimination as keeping in faith with the spirit of that law.

  • Angry Mob

    Ah so you define democracy by the action of merely casting a vote?

  • Angry Mob

    The premise of your loaded question is different from what Patsy has asked. Indeed many do actually care about the impact on the country/population hence why they wish to leave.

    Aside from Barmy Boris I don’t see much in the reasons of vested interests from people who wish to leave as the benefits are collective. EU-sceptic MEP’s stand to lose their jobs but are still campaigning to leave.

    I think your bigotry is blinding you here, you’re squandering an opportunity simply because of a few personalities you dislike. I disagree with most of the Vote Leave campaign but I can see the past the FUD and the benefits Brexit will bring.

  • Angry Mob

    The ILO (International Labour organisation) a prerequisite for continued access to various trade markets is another reason why they wont abolish workers rights.

  • Angry Mob

    I don’t agree on everything he says but he raises some good points.

  • Hugh Davison

    How do you define it?

  • Angry Mob

    Given the context of this thread I feel it apt to quote Tony Benn, apply these to the EU commissioners whom wield the ultimate power in the EU.

    “The House will forgive me for quoting myself, but in the course of my life I have developed five little democratic questions. If one meets a powerful person–Adolf Hitler, Joe Stalin or Bill Gates–ask them five questions: “What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you?” If you cannot get rid of the people who govern you, you do not live in a democratic system.”

  • Hugh Davison

    ‘Bill Gates’ ? Wow!
    The people of the UK have just voted in a neo-liberal, free-market, pro-big-business, anti-poor government. Was that democracy, according to the Benn doctrine?.
    The people of the UK can get rid of them in a few years time, but likely they won’t. Is that democracy? It is, according to the Benn criteria.
    The EU you get is defined by the national governments you elect.

  • Angry Mob

    Not sure why he used Bill Gates as an example. However the Tories winning was representative democracy in action, the fact that the UK electorate will have the choice to vote for them in less than four years is also a good indicator; whether or not they remain in power, so yes Benns criteria applies.

    The UK electorate only elect one national government, if this is the way that we shape the EU then what is the point of the EU parliament?

    I’d be interested in hearing your definition, what I’m getting is you think democracy is only when the party you vote for wins.

  • Skibo

    And how long did it take to set up each of these Free trade agreements?

  • Skibo

    AM the EU has been in discussions and negotiations with the US on a trade agreement. TTiP should have been agreed by 2014 but it is now expected in 2019. What makes you think the UK can negotiate one with the US any faster. Meanwhile if the UK is out of the EU surely the agreements between the EU and UK would be null and void till renegotiated. Can business last that long? Can our farmers last that long?

  • Hugh Davison

    Democracy is not perfect, although it is better than dictatorship. In the UK, with the first past the post system, democracy is rule by a minority. In other EU countries there are different voting systems that ensure a better representation of the electorate’s wishes.
    I think Tony Benn was making the point that the heads of global corporations sometimes have more power than elected governments. However I don’t think Bill Gates had any power to invade another country, as the UK did to Iraq.
    As for Stalin and Hitler – are you trying to say the EU is a dictatorship?
    It is possible to use democratic power to get rid of EU office-holders or reform EU institutions. But it’s not such a big issue that anyone wants to be bothered. We’re all to wrapped up in our nation-state cocoons.
    And if your last sentence is anything to go by, your understanding of the EU is probably as trivial and assuming as your understanding of me.

  • Angry Mob

    In reply to your statement further above. I never mentioned negotiation times but TTIP is not yet a done deal and given the opposition from various groups within the EU and USA it may never come about. However an agile UK negotiating in it’s own interests directly with the USA may possibly have more timely success in negotiating a FTA?

    Once Article 50 is invoked which doesn’t have to be on the 24th June 2016 as it could be delayed we will then have two years from that point to negotiate our exit and make other arrangements. My personal advocacy is to opt for an off the shelf solution in the form of the EFTA (AKA Norway option) as this retains full access to the single market.

    Whether we take this route or not; any FTA that the EU has negotiated will come under the Vienna Convention on Succession of States in respect of Treaties (1978). Under the general presumption of continuity we will be able to continue to benefit from these deals outside the EU regardless of how long it took them to negotiate. This will allow us to concentrate on gaining new FTA’s that the EU has failed to negotiate such as the deals Iceland and Switzerland have negotiated with China.

  • Angry Mob

    You’re confusing democracy with our electoral system however I’m inclined to agree that first past the post is absolutely deplorable but again we did have a referendum in 2011 as to whether we wanted to adapt AV and the majority choose not to, which was democratic decision.

    I’m not sure as to whether you know how quotation marks work. I never said Bill Gates, Adolf Hitler or Joe Stalin. I simply quoted what Tony Benn said, don’t read into the people he choose to much rather than the five questions that he posed.

    If it’s possible to use democratic power to get rid of EU bureaucrats tell me how do we rid ourselves of Juncker or Schulz.

    I’m still interested in hearing your definition of democracy though and maybe you should learn more about the EU before trying to demean others knowledge of it.

  • Skibo

    Yes I can see your policy to join the EEA (which is the position Norway holds) giving you full access to EU markets. Only problem is you will still have to pay for such access. You will still have to abide by the rules of the EU for the ability to market your goods there. You will unfortunately have no negotiation seat on these or any future regulations.
    Norway has actually implemented 6000 of these EU legal acts so what is it you are trying to achieve?
    Norway pays £22 per capita less than the UK. That means you save £1.68B and in doing so you lose your seat at the table along with your veto.

  • Hugh Davison

    As far as I know, Schulz was elected by the European Parliament, which itself was elected by the people of Europe (did you vote, by the way?). So, maybe talk to your MEP.
    How do you get rid of David Cameron, who’s not elected at all?

  • Angry Mob

    So the people of the UK parliament constituency of Witney voted for a different David Cameron?

  • Hugh Davison
  • Hugh Davison

    And I’d prefer to exit the discussion at this point. It’s getting a bit tiring.

  • Angry Mob

    Doesn’t change the fact he’s still elected and what’s more the fact that almost everyone who voted knew who the Conservative leader was when they cast their ballot.

  • Angry Mob

    The best FUD is that which has some basis in truth but which has been distorted. As for these half truths that get trotted out every time the Norway option is presented…

    1) The pay for access half truth.

    It is true we would have to pay to retain access, but significantly less. The figure you use I assume includes the grants Norway gives through the EEA Grants and Norway Grants which are not part of the EU budget which would artificially inflate your figure.

    Between the period of 2007-13 EU spending was €70 billion, the EFTA contributed approximately €1.7 billion, an average of about €250 million a year in which Norway contributed 95.77% so that equates to €1.63 billion.
    So far so good.

    Now, that’s the gross figure, much like the £18 billion a year bandied about which is incorrect. Norway receives money back through the various EU programmes it is involved with for activities such as scientific research. That actual net contribution worked out about €90 million a year.

    In addition there are EFTA contributions which are not paid to the EU. In 2014 Norway paid 22,360,000 Swiss Francs which is about £16 million. In the UK on a pro-rata basis this would cost the UK less than £100 million per year.

    From this if we were to calculate the UK’s costs based upon GDP with an economy five times bigger than Norway, we would pay about £2.5 billion gross or a net figure of £1.8 billion.

    I should however clarify that if our current net contribution to the EU is approximately £9 billion, upon brexit we would however become liable for other measures such as CAP and other commitments so we won’t actually be ~£7.2 billion better off.

    So yes we do pay, but significantly less. The Norwegian option is an interim solution to safely navigate withdrawal from the EU, given time this figure could be further reduced as we begin the real renegotiations.

    2) Abide by EU’s rules half truth.

    The EU acquis comprises of approximately 21,000 legislative acts in force and as you point out the single market comprises of about 6000.

    No matter what world market you go to you will have to conform to legislation. Much of these acts relate to things such as food standards, product conformity, packing standards etc. So no matter what agreement we opt for we will need to conform in order to trade. If something however was unacceptable we could veto legislation but we would lose market access for that particular item for non-conformity.

    3) The no say half truth.

    The only truth in this is we wouldn’t vote at the EU level. This point in particular shows the ignorance from those who spout it as to how most legislation is actually made today; through the act of globalisation.

    The increasing majority of legislation is made at an international level by various international bodies. Here Norway and other sovereign nations have the ability to chair, have full voting rights, the right to abstain and veto rights. This means that Norway effectively has more say than any individual EU member state as they directly work on drafting legislation.

    This legislation is then simply handed down to the EU who make reference to it so much so that the EU is going through old legislation that it passed and replacing it with references to new global legislation that supersedes is.

    However there are also various systems in place that give the EFTA formal consultation before any single market legislation is introduced such as the EEA Council, EEA Joint Committee etc so evidently they do actually have a say.

    Furthermore under the right of reservation in Article 102 of the EEA Agreement EFTA countries in the EEA have the right to opt out of new EU legislation, a right that EU countries do not have.

    As for the UK and other member states veto rights; post the Lisbon treaty any new legislation that comes forth this right has been done away with and furthermore through the EU REFIT program the EU Commission is updating pre-Lisbon legislation, allowing it to eliminate the veto entirely

  • Skibo

    AM I might have to bow to your greater knowledge on the matter but I would come back with the following comments.
    1)pay for access, truth or half truth. Well actually truth, Norway pays for access full stop. It is not free access.
    See the brexit guys tell us we have to pay into the EU and then say we should keep the money and just trade with the EU anyway as Norway can do it.http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/mar/16/eu-exit-norway-option-costs-thinktank
    95% of the costs and no seat at the table!
    2) abide by EU rules well you don’t have to but then you will not get access.
    Brexit tried to show how how EU rules had hindered UK industry buy when it was examined, it was found out that the bulk of the issues was the add ons that the UK government brought were the problem. They have done the same with Agriculture.
    The right of reservation, would you like to tell us all how many times the EEA members used it?
    The council and committee you refer to are virtually ignored by EU ministers

  • Angry Mob

    1) As I stated above the fact that Norway pays is a fact, however it is typically accompanied by some form of statement that makes it seem that it’s on similar terms as to what an EU member state pays, that’s what makes it a half-truth because that’s not the case.

    I actually commented on the article on here fairly recently as it was posted by another member. My response was:
    As for Open Europe the figure is 94% of the current costs of current EU regulations. Ignoring OE dubious history I’d think 6% is a good initial reduction which would equate to a ~1.9bn saving. Given time this would be further reduced as unsuitable EU legislation is repealed.

    2) I also covered the fact that we would lose access if we choose to veto any legislation, however that’s an option that EU member states do not have. The rights of reservation have never been used as far as I’m aware.

  • Adro

    No, it isnt. It’s a net taker to the tune of £8bn a year.

  • Adro

    If you think that, you’ve never actually bothered to read the Scottish government’s own figures in the subject.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “You may as well say that……….Patrick Pearse would be in favour of Brexit”, well yes, unless he’d suddenly decided that the independence of Ireland was a complete irrelevence.

    It is reasonable to infer how someone will act from their life-long beliefs, unless of course they have had a personality change. Now the rights and wromgs of Brexit, that’s quite another thing……………

  • SeaanUiNeill

    It’s even more worrying Kevin, in that the launch and targeting of the leased “British” Nuclear Deterrent is entirely controlled by US guidance systems over which the US have full control, and even the launch initiation requires two keys, one held by a US military attaché present on the submarine. So the British do not even control of the employment of the system they lease. It could even be targeted on Britain potentially, should a future president Trump want to avenge the windfarm planted in front of his new golf course a few years ago.