However #EURef goes, parties will have to do a much better job at listening…

Okay, so now we have an election out of the way, we have a referendum (at this point, please do read Paul Evans’ widely read critique of Referendums for context here). And, sadly, if inevitably, we are already drowning in Bullshit.

It is by no means a one-way street. Both sides are at it. The mere calling of a Referendum means that any subtlety and/or the normal trade-offs are out of the window. It’s a populist bonfire instrument which forces campaigns to search for whatever inflammatory material comes to hand.

For the ordinary voter, it is both wonderfully seductive and wildly enervating. The fuzzy mess and over complication of the present democratic system is reduced to a single binary: we go versus we leave.

Roughly, we can say with a degree certainty that Leave is winning that battle, though it’s much less than certain they’ll win the war. Cameron’s private polling is still telling him that Remain will win, but by far too narrow a margin for him to relax for a moment.

What’s puzzling the more thoughtful economists is that the case for staying, in purely economic terms at least, is an open and shut case for Remain. Uncertainty in the market and the cost of repatriating policy making will be significant costs, extending ‘austerity’ by another couple of years.

Talk to anyone who is already convinced (and in England there are legions of them) and none of that cuts any ice. “So what, I want to be free”. Instead of Wallace, think Henry V and you’re half-way to understanding what’s driving this yeoman revolution.

Like Edward Bernay’s genius 1929 torches of freedom campaign (designed to trigger a ‘social movement’ to encourage women to smoke cigarettes), the Leave side have nicked the best tunes, leaving Remain only with a long slow dirge about economic disasters if the UK leaves.

The comparison with the positivist thinking that almost worked for Yes in the Scottish independence referendum is striking. At the time, Carol Craig referenced the work of Martin Seligman:

…there are times when it makes sense to be optimistic (or use optimism building techniques if you are prone to pessimism) and times when it is better to be pessimistic.

He writes: ‘The fundamental guideline for not deploying optimism is to ask what the cost of failure is in the particular situation. If the cost of failure is high, optimism is the wrong strategy’.

It would be hard to argue that Brexiteers are optimists in the same mould of those looking for an independent Scotland. In interview on Sunday on RTE’s Marian Finucane show Edwina Currie complained about older about taking risks with the jobs of their kids and grandkids.

Eurosceptic babyboomers (most of whom are either retired or are on the run into a much earlier and wealthier retirement than their kids or grandkids are ever likely to enjoy) know and understand the power of numbers they’ll have in the upcoming referendum.

But there is another factor. Most of the devolved areas in the UK are strongly leaning towards remain. Yet in peripheral England that trend is far from evident: even in regions which suffer similar levels of deprivation.

Johnny Mercer the Tory Plymouth MP who came out passionately for Remain on Sunday ran a poll of his own constituents and found that 74% of his hard pressed constituents want to leave. (A classic case of don’t ask a question if you don’t wish to hear the answer to it).

In England, the bones of local government have been picked clean. With little regional democratic oversight most decisions resile to London, and in London’s eyes Cornwall and the south west is where David Cameron goes on holiday, not where people need houses and work.

It’s this systemic policy failure which is at the base of this rather traumatising experience for London’s pro EU political class more anything to do with the pros and cons of the EU. Immigration is big, but it’s also dissatisfaction with life in low wage, low productivity austerity Britain.

Tony Blair’s former speech writer Phillip Collins noted in The Times of London last week that his former boss was right…

…to say that demanding fewer immigrants cannot be the right answer for an open economy. Yet there we go, straight back into abstraction. Popular concern with immigration will not be mitigated by lessons in macro-economics.

The case has to address the people, mostly Labour voters in core Labour seats, for whom an open economy sounds like an open invitation for someone else to take their job.

Two questions arise.

One, is Brexit a fit solution to the problems generated by running a large low wage open economy, a housing shortage, poor levels of investment (Sir Phillip Green?) and productivity with high levels of immigration (333,000 net last year — 184,000 of it from inside the EU)?

Two, what, in the longer term (whether it’s In or Out), will have to be done to address the deficits in policy which have seen house building at a relative standstill (whilst house prices in England have rocketed) for nearly a generation in Britain?

The problem is chronic not acute. And yet a referendum is an acute instrument with in regard to the EU at least a very poor record of delivering what the people think they are voting for. [Oh yeah, what was that Greek OXI vote all about again? – Ed.]

If you don’t think it will happen to the UK, consider this from Paul Evans yesterday

There is no deliberative assembly that the British public could have elected in the last thirty years that would have dared take responsibility for leaving the EU because they would have had to face the voters again a few years afterwards, and it wouldn’t be pretty.

The truth is that most Referendums are far from deliberative affairs. It’s a marathon in which everything including the kitchen sink can and will be thrown at the opponents. Take Northern Ireland, where a full 34% of our exports go directly to the Republic?

Will there be check points? I incline towards Sammy Wilson’s assurances that there won’t. Not that he’s right about free travel between Norway and Sweden (which is conditioned by external circumstances), but everything that can be done will be done to keep Ireland open.

And yet, even the best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men can fail. As The Economist points out

If a post-Brexit Britain restricted free movement or left the EU’s single market, there would be consequences for its only land border with another EU country, the 300-mile (480km) line dividing Northern Ireland from Ireland.

And Sammy knows he’s in no position to issue any reliable guarantees in that regard. In truth, the big issues lie elsewhere within the state. Phillip Collins “concern about the level of immigration did not begin with Vote Leave and will not end when it disbands”.

He offers a basket of issues he believes needs tackling: including the re-establishment, as of principle, the connection between contribution and welfare, and the chronic failure of UK technical education, which makes Poles much more desirable employees than native Brits.

None of these ‘solutions’ necessarily comprise Brexit. Returning to his major theme, Paul Evans reprises on the magical effects of the binary plebiscite

A few months ago, outside a small bunch of political fanatics, the British public wasn’t too bothered about EU membership either way. Most of us had plenty of issues that we understood better and that bothered us more.

By June 24, those same agnostics will have been polarised by the ridiculous claims from both sides. Anything up to 49.99 per cent of the people who vote (and possibly more of the people who could have voted) will have a decision that they don’t like imposed on them.

This polarisation means that there will soon be demands for this all to be re-run, no matter who wins. [Emphasis added]

Depending on who you listen to Brexit (because it is at this stage an entirely theoretical state of being) is different things to everyone. The Brexit that Sammy Wilson says he wants is one with soft borders that will (he tells us) have little effect on north south travel.

That’s hardly compatable with Nigel Farage intention to ramp up serious controls on immigration. The Tory opposition to Cameron want ‘something’ in between. All discount re-adjustment costs, and the effects of scrapping employment measures like the working time directive.

It’s these competing and contradictory expectations that are likely to create the kind of soupy flux we’ve seen in post IndyRef Scotland.

But referendums aside, there’s a problem too with the shape of governance of traditionally linear institutions in an increasingly non linear world. George Magnus blogs, and hits several nails on the head…

Facts yes, by all means, but show some understanding and empathy too.

I’m not sure at all from one day to the next whether younger voters and waverers will be persuaded, despite this, to tilt the vote to stay, assuming they can be persuaded to turn out to vote in sufficient numbers in the first place.

But whichever way the vote goes, our ‘elite’ and political parties are going to have to do a better job, listening to what communities are saying, and not what top down researchers tell them. [Emphasis added]

Quite. Meanwhile, the PM, who is anti-Brexit (in case you’d forgotten), is getting tetchy. Like the Provisionals used to say about their terror campaign against the British government, Leave only has to get lucky once. Cameron has to remain lucky right to the very end.


  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’d be interested to know what George Magnus’s “top down researchers” are. In my experience, researchers (the ones from research agencies advising government) provide “bottom up” guidance, bringing the lives of ordinary Britons to life for ‘elite’ decision-makers. There is no shortage of research agencies offering this insight and plenty of work going on. But it’s notable that the Coalition cut government spending on such research and though I don’t know what the latest spending is, my impression is that it hasn’t picked up much. If the government is talking a different language from the people, that might be a significant reason why.

    That and the fact that their ‘normal’ is set by a combination super-rich people educated at public schools and, for those from more humble backgrounds, misfits and oddballs from the fringes of their communities. Nothing wrong with the latter, I count myself one myself (though not a Tory), but they do not have a natural feel for the mainstream of British people.

    If, like the Tories, your senior personnel are not drawn from the mainstream of national life, you need to be putting extra effort into listening to professionals who are in touch. And no I’m not touting for work there, the red tape involved in doing government research projects makes it not worth pitching for it for independent researchers like me. That’s Westminster red tape, by the way, not Brussels.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Mick there is no BS or lies on the Brexit side. They are still giving the facts based arguments as always. What is different is that the Remain side has run out of hysterical lies like ‘It will risk WW3’, and now they are just saying that Leave are lying. The public can already see that Remain are the people telling untruths.
    You should do a piece on who is going to the upcoming Bilderberg meeting of the Elite in June in Germany. You will see the hysterical Remainers going to get their orders from their Elite masters, to try and save their project to create a full EU state under Elite control. I don’t expect that the remain arguers on slugger know anything about this though !

  • Paul Hagan

    Eh, what about the £350million a week lie? Or the X number of countries are “about to join the EU” lie or “EU army” lie etc etc etc, not all Brexit plans are lies, not all Brexiteers are liars, not all Brexit votes will be based on lies far from it. But you simply can’t ignore there are untruths on both sides and that’s worrying

  • Msiegnaro

    Paul – what is the actual net figure regarding our contributions to the EU?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Immigration is big, but it’s also dissatisfaction with life in low wage, low productivity austerity Britain.

    And Brexit is not going to fix either. There are challenges here one vote is not going to make a culture change or a commitment to greater altruism.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    The creation of an EU army is a fact. It is widely reported and you can even see it reported in the MSM. The EU army will remove member countries control of their own military. Think about that for a while !

    “Germany pushes for European army”
    Angela Merkel will be attending Bilderberg this month. She is the main EU leader pushing for massive inward migration to EU countries. Do you own research on why this is happening and you will have your eyes opened.

  • Zorin001

    Agreed and it frightens me how a lot of Brexit voters I speak to seem to think that after an Exit that things will suddenly get “better” without any detailed idea of what that actually entails.

  • Kev Hughes

    We don’t know that one M, especially as the rebate needs to be borne in mind together with spending on EU funded projects within the UK as a whole.

  • Kev Hughes

    ‘Will there be check points? I incline towards Sammy Wilson’s assurances that there won’t.’

    I did laugh at your suggestion Mick. I’m going to go with Hugh Orde and, yes, even Bertie (he’s not exactly reliable either), that a HARD border would go up.

    On the continent here, and from what I read (with limited German), I cannot see sentiment being one of being particularly accommodating on certain matters with a post BREXIT UK, especially as the continent is dealing with the outworkings of the Euro-crisis (self-inflicted IMHO) and the influx of approx. 1.2m refugees here into Germany.

    I could be wrong, Sammy may actually speak some sense (and I actually hope he is if such a matter comes to pass), but with the whole Greek matter (I know, smaller, less significant country), Eurocrats and the powers that be haven’t exactly shown a willingness to bend the rules and on a Brexit I feel they will go for punitive measures, so that the Dutch don’t get any ideas.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Whats the 350 mil a week claim by Brexit? and what is the number of countries claimed by Brexit about to join the EU? If you specify the false claims then we can fact check’em 🙂

  • Kev Hughes

    ‘The creation of an EU army is a fact.’ – can you show me where in your link this is a ‘fact’.

    ‘The FT says the paper calls for “the use of all possibilities” that are permissible under the EU treaties such as establishing deep cooperation between willing member states, create a joint civil military headquarters for the EU operations, a council of defence ministers and better coordination of the production and sharing of military equipment.’

    Wow, it does sound more and more like ‘Attack of the Clones’, where Frau Doktor Merkel will be Senator Palpatine and get her army of… pretty shitty tanks and helicopters that are grounded for repairs more often than they are operationally ready. No, it appears that the Germans are calling for greater co-ordination and co-operation, but not the creation of a stand-alone military, answerable to a Eurocrat only.

    Of course, I should’ve known better, the clue is in your name.

  • Megatron

    It is instructive that there still appears to be no acknowledgement by anyone at EU level that there is a serious problem. Or remain for that matter. It is hard to see either side of the referendum having any credibility whatsoever afterwards,
    In fairness to leave they at least are proposing to do something about the chronic problems – the EU only made tiny changes to policy because of the threat to leave.
    Chronic problems by themselves in UK but also across the EU don’t seem to drive action at EU level at all.
    If that continues the show is over for the EU.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Strangely enough I’m with George Osbourne, his analysis seems to suggest…

    Cross border customs posts – Yes, the Irish will need to have them at least as they are signed up to Common Agricultural Policy which requires external tariffs. The UK may or may not reciprocate.

    Checkpoints – extremely likely, particularly if the UK leaves the EEA to deter free movement of people. How can you have no freedom of movement of people and allow German and French and Polish hill-walkers and swimmers eligible to be in EU ROI without visas but not in non-EU NI without them to happen without moving from an e-border to a hard border.

    The E-border only works for people who have British and Irish visas, EU free movers to the Republic won’t have visas.

    My own bias I would love a laissez-faire approach to the border from Westminster, but I have real doubts it’s going to happen.

  • Kev Hughes

    KB, it’s actually simple. In Sammy’s soft border scenario there would still need to a hard border somewhere so that the whole ‘sovereignty’ BS would come to fruition, and that would be… between the North and the rest of the UK. Now, I doubt that is what our Sammy actually wants, but if you have a soft border here then there needs to be a hard border somewhere and I’d bet it would be the Irish Sea and the Northern Channel.

    But I doubt it would be the UK putting up borders to get their ‘sovereignty’back. No, I imagine it would be a bit more like this…

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Sounds like fact means something else to you. Are you intending it to mean ‘already exists’ ?

    If you actually search for ‘EU army’ on the internet you will find it reported in all sorts of places. Are you saying all these sources are wrong?

    From the International Business Times article from May 16 that I linked to –
    “Germany is pushing for a European army in the 28-member EU bloc, according to a white paper put forward by the German government. The army is envisaged to have a joint headquarters and shared military plans.”
    I suppose a ‘fact’ for you would be the white paper put forward by the Government. Or just continue to try and divert attention by silly ridicule 🙂

  • Kev Hughes

    Sir Rantsalot, rants a lot.

    Not answering that part I raised about the willingness of participants to co-operate with one another?

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Heres another bit Kev.

    “The Financial Times noted that the white paper is “one of the most significant” for Germany in recent years, given that Berlin has “long paid lip-service” to the formation of a European defence union. It noted that the white paper was to have been released shortly before the 23 June referendum but has probably been delayed to July.”
    As people DONT WANT an EU army and it will be forced AGAINST THEIR WISHES into existence, you wont hear about this happening until after the vote.
    How stupid do people have to be to vote to continue in this sort of undemocratic EU state??

  • Kevin Breslin

    The DUP are a party of little Ulsterpeople anyway, it’s probably their main ideological difference between them and the UUP, even the PUP at times.

    I’d imagine if there is border controls between the islands more noise will be made from unionists outside the DUP than inside it.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I think it’s a tad unfair to say it of all Brexit voters, just the campaigners who think a Brexit is going to change society without work elsewhere being carried out.

    I do seeing the EU taking a harsher line with migration anyway, ultimately though when it comes to migration, I believe the UK being in or outside the EU is largely irrelevant either way.

    In Northern Ireland we barely have net migration towards immigration anyway, our net migration is explained by “migrants” from the rest of these islands and a few international students who come here paying higher tuition fees and go when they are finished.

    Every worker that’s brought in, is reflected by a potential worker who goes.

  • Kev Hughes

    ‘As people DONT WANT an EU army and it will be forced AGAINST THEIR WISHES into existence, you wont hear about this happening until after the vote. ‘

    I’ve heard about it before the vote, unless of course it is June 24th. Look, if Brexiteers want to sound somewhat more plausible (and there are many decent reasons to want to leave the EU) then this is not one of them. This claim is reminiscent of some mail a former employer of mine received from up state New York and some guy trying to tie Fianna Fail (we worked were there former offices were on Upper Mount Street), with Barack Obama, the UN and a communist super state. It is needless scaremongering.

    Further, your article acknowledges that countries would have to ‘willingly’ ‘co-operate’ among themselves. So, for instance, there would not be a case of ‘Attack of the Clones’ with Merkel having a pretty large army to goose-step down Regents Street and enforce EU directives.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Can you explain what you mean a bit more?
    It mentions existing treaties, do you mean this is some sort of safeguard? EU treaties are drawn up by secret committee, then each country has to pass it. If they dare have a vote and vote no, then they have to re run the vote until it is a yes 🙂
    Do some reading on the drive towards a single EU state under one government and one army. A few new treaties is small potatoes !

  • Kev Hughes

    Correction on the Ulsterpeople, they omitted their ‘brethren’ from 3 of the 9 counties to papists.

    I’d imagine that the imposition of such an arrangement would cause a massive stink. Now, I know it is fanciful to suggest the imposition of a hard border within the UK, but then again, Sammy’s proposal is also pretty fanciful from what we know too.

  • Kev Hughes

    Why thank you so much SR for your advice; I will ‘do some reading’ up on this.

    What would you recommend, Drudge Report?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Northern Ireland is a net beneficiary of EU money. The figure of £56 million is equivalent in real terms to annual debt interest from bilateral loans between the Stormont Executive and Westminster.

  • Kev Hughes

    That may be true KB, however, in fairness the question asked was concerning the UK as a whole and not the North specifically.

    I would imagine that the devolved regions do a whole lot better from the EU than somewhere like the home counties or the South East of England which would be net contributors.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    You’re not getting it Kev. The reason we got from a common market to being in an EU state, is because it was done slowly in small incremental steps. If you were told after joining the common market that there is a plan to create an EU single state, then you would have the exact same reaction. “Naaahhh! that’s silly talk !! ” Am I right? Now we have the internet and all these plans leak out all over the place and we can find out for ourselves. They cant be restricted by limiting what goes out on MSM. I encourage you to read up on the web. Once you find out whats going on, you wont want to be part of it.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Good starting point. I can see you are still in the ‘I believe what I’m told in the MSM’ side of things.

  • Kev Hughes

    Fella, I get it. Honestly, I do. But I don’t see it happening.

    Regarding the incremental changes to the EU, for the most part I am happy with them (the Euro aside). I don’t see some single EU state here and I live in Trier, 50km from Luxembourg and 100km from Metz,with Arlon another 45 minutes from Luxembourg. What I see is a lot of co-operation, but not some mega state in the making. TBH, 2 world wars and their aftermath (French soldiers were stationed in the city of Trier until just after the millennium, for instance) means that this will not happen. You would also imagine that the people who would most likely face the outworkings of an EU super state, the folks on the continent, would be the ones with most to fear, alas, they go about their lives as normal.

    I see a large number of treaties having been hammered out over months and years and agreed upon between governments. I see votes against the imposition of an EU Constitution in the Netherlands and France, while yes, you’re right, they asked the Southern electorate to think twice on Nice and Lisbon,something that I feel lacks democratic legitimacy. However, the issue I would have with your point there is that it is also perfectly legal and democratic to ask voters again once matters have been ‘clarified’, unless we are accusing the second referendum on these matters of being fraudulent, which even I don’t think you’re saying.

    So, as someone whose livelihood depends on an ‘in’ vote, I would give you 1 bit of advice for your argument and state that your bringing up an EU army and the Drudge Report is not likely to win you any converts to your cause.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Why do you say EU army and drudge would be negative? Its the non MSM that is leaking all the truth about the EU. That’s the big thing about this year. Too many people now find out for themselves and turn their back on the MSM controlled output.
    I had a feeling that many of the pro EU people were arguing because they had a vested interest in keeping the EU alive. I hope you are busy getting your CV up to date 🙂

  • Kev Hughes

    Wow, you actually would like me out of a job? I’m mindful of what Rafael Behr said this morning about folks like you:

    ‘Revolutionaries appear to like to make omlettes with the eggs of others.’

    As for my CV, fella, I get plenty of calls every week, so I never have much to fear. But I wouldn’t be so cheery on your chances just yet. I’d go check the only opinion poll that matters, the bookies. Odds are lengthening on a Brexit and shortening on a remain. Looks like Nigel’s ‘calm down dear’ schtick didn’t help you much…

    ‘I had a feeling that many of the pro EU people were arguing because they had a vested interest in keeping the EU alive’ – EVERYONE has a vested interest in this referendum, or are you implying that the EU doesn’t affect people’s lives in the EU? That would be a weird accusation seeing everything else you have put up here.

  • Sharpie

    Is it possible to estimate the economic benefit of being part of the single market? London’s economy would look a bit different if the financial centre moved to Frankfurt and companies chose to list on other stock exchanges.

  • Kev Hughes

    Honestly Sharpie? It would be incredibly difficult and, in the current atmosphere, pointless.

    I honestly ‘get’ why some folks want out. I am not exactly enamoured by the EU project any more, especially after the shambolic treatment of the Greeks (it hasn’t gone away you know) and the handling of the Euro crisis in general. I also work in Luxembourg and if I am being frank, seeing the institutions here can fill me with some rage as they appear to chime with the stereotypes we have, perhaps worse so.

    However, I think that the pooling of resources in a connected world is the best way forward. I do believe in open trade and I do believe that having common standards helps consumers in the long run, but that this can be off set by the regulations this imposes on smaller enterprises also.

    What I do know is that IF there is a BREXIT, I will get a lot more work here in Luxembourg as well as phone calls from Dublin or Amsterdam as entities will up sticks and relocate large chunks of their work force and operations to these jurisdictions. That’s a gimme. London would no longer be within the EU and thus, would become something like Switzerland which is not as huge on finance or, should I say, it does not provide the same breadth of services that the City does. There would be some obvious winners in the City if the hedge funds and PE guys get the bonfire of the regulations that they hope for (lots of corks popping in Mayfair and around some parts of Liverpool Street), but if you are a large retail bank or global bank that is ‘too big to fail’, London is no longer a gate way to ‘Europe’ and the single market. It will be stuck outside and, let’s be very clear here, EU authorities would come down very hard on substance requirements post Brexit, forcing these banks to move things from London.

    I am ignoring the imposition of tariffs and the wildly naked desire to ‘make an example’ of the UK post-Brexit. All of these things would have an impact on the economy.

  • Sharpie

    I suspect the same. I am curious though that the only economic debate has been on direct transfers and not on the much much bigger economic impacts on trade. If I am an investor – no way will I set up outside the EU where bureaucracy will automatically increase if not double and it is going to be more difficult to secure the multi-lingual talent that goes with a knowledge economy.

  • Kev Hughes

    There has been some debate on it, but why have a full blown debate on this when I can constantly repeat a lie of GBP 350m per week goes there instead?

    Further, if I raise my head above the parapet, basically Boris, Michael, Nigel and their cohorts threaten me with retribution afterwards.

    There is plenty of discussion out there. There are plenty of papers out there (excluding dossiers from the Treasury) and opinion from economists and finance houses, but why would I print them in the Times, Telegraph, Mail or Express when I have finally been given my chance to get the UK out?

    ‘If I am an investor – no way will I set up outside the EU where bureaucracy will automatically increase if not double and it is going to be more difficult to secure the multi-lingual talent that goes with a knowledge economy.’ – Sharpie, you’re preaching to the converted there. If they remain, then my summer will be very busy for my employer from a deal perspective, otherwise I will be busy over the summer dealing with a regulatory mess. Either way, I’m enjoying the lull before the storm 😀

  • Jollyraj

    “Correction on the Ulsterpeople, they omitted their ‘brethren’ from 3 of the 9 counties to papists.”

    Logically, then, and if you don’t wish to be a total hypocrite, you must also feel the people of Ireland abandoned their ‘brethern’ to the infidels of the 6 counties of NI.

  • Kev Hughes

    Of course I do, natch…

  • Kev Hughes

    Also, placing the word ‘logically’ at the beginning of something doesn’t make that what follows ‘logical’, except of course in the space your mind inhabits.

  • mickfealty

    Not sure either, but I’ll have a blog out in the next couple of days with some further thoughts on this linear versus non linear thing. In my view politicians need two/three way dynamics (not just Up/Down) combined with much richer narrative data streams on their dashboard.

    More anon…

  • Declan Doyle

    Ha! You just had to get the RA in there somewhere !

    Britain’s issues are no different to any other country’s problems in Europe. Economic, social, cutural etc. Has any government ever hit the nail square on the head? Democracy has never promised or delivered perfection. Leaving the EU may not turn out to be the medicine brexiters are hoping for. In fact it most definately won’t. But will it make things worse? Nobody can credibly answer that question either way. However, asking the question is it worth the risk? That answer is obvious. Is it not?

  • Declan Doyle

    Is it possible that their might be a sense of relief across France and Germany if Britain did leave? The itch eventually scratched and disabled.

  • Declan Doyle

    But would there not have to be a hard border between Scotland and England after brexit followed by Scot Indy?

  • Declan Doyle

    You are correct and on the button. The free state goverment absolutely and without question abandoned people into the new statelet.

  • Kev Hughes

    In France, yes, Deutschland, probably not. It really depends, as do most things.

    In France, they (colleagues and friends) are pretty sick of them and not from a traditional ‘we hate the English’ perspective. It is much more a roll of the eyes and a ‘here we go again, throwing the toys out of the pram’ type response. Now, I could speculate as to why my friends and colleagues say this to me, perhaps partly out of France having gotten over itself (to a certain extent) and it’s imperial decline by throwing itself into the European project. So, for them, this is THEIR project when Europe is not a Westminster elite project, but I also think they are just so far apart on so many things. I’ve had French colleagues who have been to Indonesia but haven’t once set foot in London!

    In Germany, where I live, they like the English a lot. They are pretty similar in many ways, temperamentally and on their outlook for certain things. They have bent over backwards to try and accommodate them here (as they see it), but in some papers (Die Zeit) they see it as a pretty shameful and masochistic exercise. The biggest thing here is the influx of refugees; my town (Trier) has a population of approx. 102k and I believe we have taken in about 4k refugees whom are housed in 2 distinct areas of the city. That’s a real noticeable presence of people coming (to state the obvious!) and it is more pronounced elsewhere of course. Germany is a fairly homogenous country (owing to WW2 and its aftermath) and doesn’t have the same mix of cultures as the UK or France would be accustomed to, so this is the main issue at the moment.

  • Jollyraj

    So to your thinking the present Ireland is equally an illegitimate ‘statelet’ which should be dismantled?

  • Kev Hughes

    Owing to the ferry from Larne/Belfast? Sorry DD, I’m not following you on that one (must be a senior moment)

  • Jollyraj

    I doubt it. The French and the English have a mutual dislike (though oddly enough it doesnt seem to apply between France and Scotland, Northern Ireland & Wales – it isn’t antipathy to the UK per se) based on rivalry. Nonetheless, in Europe the axis of power is Franco- German, and thus they would ultimately prefer a bigger, stronger Europe with the Britain still in it – even if one of the four British countries isn’t their cup of tea.

  • Jollyraj

    ” then there needs to be a hard border somewhere and I’d bet it would be the Irish Sea and the Northern Channel.”

    Ludicrous. You might as well say the hard border should run through Yorkshire. Obviously a hard border would go around the whole of the UK.

  • Kev Hughes

    How about you read the rest of what I wrote where I noted the following:

    ‘Now, I know it is fanciful to suggest the imposition of a hard border within the UK, but then again, Sammy’s proposal is also pretty fanciful from what we know too.’

    I don’t believe it will happen either and is ludicrous, just as ludicrous as the soft border Sammy is espousing. Otherwise, do tell me where the hard border would be in Sammy’s proposal, all ferries and flights from Belfast can only go to Scottish ports/airports and then there’s a border between Scotland and England?

    I remind everyone that I do believe you’re an algorithm programmed to come across as lacking in self-awareness of what you actually write. It would also appear your programme can’t pick up nuance either…

  • Declan Doyle

    No sorry I mean it there is a brexit followed by Scottish independence. What would happen on the border between Scotland and England assuming Scotland remains in the UK? Even better if the UK ends up as just England Wales and NI it will be some craic driving from Larne to London !

  • Declan Doyle

    Lol. I admire your sense of fantasy mate. There is nothing illigitimate about either of the two Irish jurisdictions.

  • Katyusha

    I think another factor in this referendum is that politicos underestimate just how badly a lot of the UK, especially smaller towns, have been hit by deindustrialisation. From an economic point of view, they have nothing left to lose. So the rather over-the-top warnings about how Brexit will affect the UK economy have no effect. Who cares how it affects the balance sheet of London investment banks and stockbrokers? That has nothing to do with the common man. Might as well vote leave just to show them how pissed off we are. At the moment we’re in the gutter, and if we vote to leave things might get better, or we might still be in the gutter. The EU and immigration are easy targets for people to direct their anger against, too.

    Of course, it’s a dangerous fallacy. The EU Regional Development fund actively supports investment in underpriveleged areas. Is the UK government likely to do the same, once it is free from EU structures?

  • Declan Doyle

    That’s the thing innit? Regions like the North must be aware that London government policy is solely focused on South East England. It is a big risk to trust them to bridge the financial gap outside Europe.

  • Declan Doyle

    Jolly, Westminster committee has already stated pretty clearly that the hard border would logistically have to be around GB as it would be impossible to secure the 500km border in ireland with the necessary customs and security controls etc. In other words, all travellers from Ireland North and South would enter GB ports and airports no different if they were coming from bangalore.

  • Katyusha

    ” and on a Brexit I feel they will go for punitive measures, so that the Dutch don’t get any ideas”
    Nailed it. The European Commission and any politician with a vested interest in maintaining the EU are going to want to make an example of the UK if it does leave. If Britain undergoes a recession or has difficulty establishing trade agreements, it will be a stark warning against any other nation trying to leave.
    Britian leaving isn’t that important materially to the EU. It’s the precedent and example that it sets that is dangerous. Under any circumstances, the EU need to ensure that it looks like a very, very bad idea should any other nation try and replicate it. They aren’t going to bend over backwards to accomodate the UK or make things easier for them.

  • Kev Hughes

    ‘They aren’t going to bend over backwards to accomodate the UK or make things easier for them’ – Yup.

    Look, I am not someone who believes in being punitive (look at the Treaty of Versailles for how bad that can get), but this one is a bit different. Whether we like it or not, a huge effort has been put into this by the European machine, and by that, I mean governments and civil servants across the continent have been part of these negotiations. You had Barry Obama over making an intervention, you’ve had Christine Lagarde and pretty ,much everyone in the establishment walking out and saying ‘don’t do it’.

    So, if the UK ‘does it’ I would anticipate that there would be repercussions as they have shown themselves to be incredibly self-absorbed. Honestly, the things people are talking about here are:

    i) the French labour strikes;
    ii) Refugees;
    iii) Refugees;
    iv) Euro 2016;
    v) Refugees;
    vi) Flooding;
    vii) Terrorism.

    BREXIT is not what the folks here are talking about in great detail and see as sublimely ridiculous.

  • Jollyraj

    There are two ‘Irish’ jurisdictions??

  • Jollyraj

    “I remind everyone that I do believe you’re …..”

    Breathtakingly self-important statement, if you don’t mind me saying so.

  • Kev Hughes

    Have at it xD

  • dodrade99

    The length of the border would be halved by annexing Donegal.

  • Kev Hughes

    Hey Mick, I got a comment pending, guessing it’s for a 4 letter word for faeces?

  • Angry Mob

    For a quick breakdown for each country I find this table useful:

    This interactive chart provides a bit more detail: though:

    Undeniably the devolved regions do significantly better than England does however the conclusion reached by the NI select committee in Westminster was that it is impossible to ascertain as to whether NI is a net contributor or beneficiary as the EU does not provide the figures.


    I think it’s important to point out that leaving the EU does not mean leaving the single market.

    I know I bang on about the Norway option a lot on here but it’s becoming more apparent that in the event of a leave vote that we will leave the political EU and remain in the single market by retaining our EEA membership. The EFTA (Norway) option would allow us to continue trade in goods and services with provisions for mutual cooperation in mutually beneficial projects such as Eurasmus and Horizon 2020.

    I’d urge you to read the following article however: and possibly his plan for leaving based upon Flexcit which is another worth while endeavour

  • NotNowJohnny

    I wouldn’t be so sure. Who would support having the hard border around GB rather than the UK? I expect the answer is (a) the UK government, (b) the Irish government and (c) the half of the NI Executive that is Sinn Fein. Who would not support this? I expect the answer is (d) the half of the NI Executive that is the DUP. Who will be able to influence this within the EU post Brexit. I expect the answer is (b) and (c). Who will have no influence at all in this post Brexit? I expect the answer is (d) the DUP.

  • NotNowJohnny

    Would you be up for this? We had nine green fields, three of them are in bondage and all that? Mind you, I’d probably stop short of retaking Bundoran. I’m sure any issues that raises could be sorted out by a border commission afterwards.

  • MainlandUlsterman


    and if we did Brexit, it’s not that they would necessarily ‘punish’ us – though they might – it’s more that we’d have to put up with being treated by the rest of the EU in whatever way suits them. They would be under no obligation to treat us particularly well or fairly, if it doesn’t suit member states. Far from ‘liberated’ from Europe, we will have much less control over our relationships there.

    And my God has Cameron used up British diplomatic capital with our partners with all this. Even if we stay in, the whole referendum nonsense – and it is nonsense, an internal Tory spat into which the nation has been co-opted – has been a foreign policy disaster.

  • mickfealty

    That’s gibberish Declan. You’re extrapolating far too enthusiastically from the [internal] operation of the PTA. However it can be mitigated by a new model CTA (and it would be quite substantially I reckon) the UK has a duty of care to all citizens in NI be they British or Irish.

  • Declan Doyle

    It is not a bit gibberish and has been widely reported outside the passionate battle lines of either side of the argument. Completely unbiased analysis shows it will be the sensible and most cost effective option. Duty of care? They are not threatening to steal your sashes, they will be just asking to see your passport.

  • Kev Hughes

    This whole endeavour is 1 giant disaster.

  • Kev Hughes

    Thanks AM for the considered response. You use a word there though which I don’t think the uk would have post a brexit, ‘option’, I simply don’t think you’ll have many what with the balance of payments as it currently stands and the diplomatic goodwill that has been burned here.

    In fact, the U.K. is possibly going to be at its worst point with its continental partners.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    I don’t want you out of a job, just a bit of banter ! 🙂
    Lets all be honest and sensible about all this, and Vote Leave.
    Onwards to freedom !! 🙂

  • Kev Hughes

    You’re a geg xD

    I just wonder if this call to freedom from you is akin to Loki’s in the Avengers? 😀

  • mickfealty

    I humbly submit that your bullshit detector is not currently working at full function then.

  • Kev Hughes

    Apologies MU for the brevity of my initial response, it was 6am when I first saw your post.

    I think your last stanza is one that a lot of people are not even giving serious consideration to. They may say (and with some justification might I add) so what? A few diplomats and civil servants get their noses put out of place, big deal, but I think people need to understand that if you come across as someone in a negotiation who clearly cannot act in good faith or is troublesome then there are repercussions, just ask the Swiss about this in the 90s. I believe it was on BBC Radio 4’s Analysis or From Our Own Correspondent that highlighted the trouble the Swiss had in dealing with the EU and the trouble they have had since the referendum they passed to curb freedom of movement, something the central government continues to drag its feet on implementing. Again, the UK is not Switzerland, but that is why I think this burning of diplomatic goodwill will not stand the UK in good stead in the long run.

  • Declan Doyle

    It is not ideal for sure but thats the word. Pretending it’s not the plan or just hoping is bull won’t make it go away.

  • Declan Doyle