Friday 23 February 2018

#Brexit - Time to nail the lie of the 52%

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I don't think I'm going to make too many friends with this blog. In fact, I am quite likely to lose a few. It would be far easier to simply sit on my hands and say nothing. What sort of a person does that when the future prosperity of their nation and their childrens future is at risk? Patriotism is often hijacked by the far right, but they are often the least patriotic of people, as they despise many of their fellow countrymen and have no regard to the institutions and wellbeing of the nation. I consider myself a patriot. I would take the same path as my father did in WWII when he volunteered to fly bombers for the RAF because he believed that the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler was an existential threat to all that was good in the world. Although I consider myself by default a pacifist, I would have no qualms picking up a gun for my country in similar circumstances.

However, the biggest threat to our nation at present does not require anyone to pick up guns. It does however require the bravery to be honest. We are coming up to two years since the nation held a referendum about continued EU membership. Both sides told a pack of lies, produced a whole raft of completely baised statistics and made a whole lot of claims that were shown to be complete rubbish, often even before the ink was dry on the paper. As we approach the second anniversary of the vote, we hear constant invocations by #Brexit fans to "respect the will of the people" and to "accept the view of the 52%, the majority". What no one seems to be saying is that there is no such thing as a 52% majority. Only 72% of the electorate bothered to vote. Of these 37% voted for Brexit and 35% voted for remain. There is not and has never been a majority of the British public voting for #Brexit.

Siren voices in the #Brexit camp doubtless say that "they had the chance to vote" but this is simply a smokescreen erected to preserve the lie. Whilst I don't doubt that most of the 52% wanted to leave, I suspect that some of the lies, such as the £350 million a week for the NHS swayed many. But the 28% who didn't vote are taxpaying citizens and to completely ignore their viewpoint is as undemocratic as to claim that 37% is 52%. the margin of difference between the two camps was thin. As they declined to cast a vote, we can draw no conclusion other than neither side did enough to persuade them that they had conclusively won the argument. All we can say is that the two dodgy campaigns failed to convince them.

Votes %
Valid votes33,551,98399.92%
Invalid or blank votes25,3590.08%
Total votes33,577,342100.00%
Registered voters/turnout46,500,00172.21%

In two years since the referendum, we have seen complete chaos in the government. To try and clarify the situation, Theresa May called an election and the result was even more inconclusive.

In short, we are making the most monumental decision in the recent history of the UK, based on the opinion of 37% of the electorate, when it is universally accepted that both sides completely mislead the population of the UK. We refused to give the government a mandate to conduct the negotiations and we are in a situation where the cabinet is utterly split. The 28% who were unable to decide are probably even more disenchanted than befre. Whilst people may say that those that didn't vote disqualified themselves from participating, this is absolute nonsense, because if you are given a binary choice and you know both sides are lying to you and misleading you, how can you honestly expect people who are not sure to choose?

Just under 13 million people who were entitled to vote, for whatever reason didn't. I wonder what the outcome would have been if as well as a Yes/No box on the voting form, there was a "Both sides have lied through their teeth, therefore I can't cast an informed vote". I wonder how many would have ticked that box? As far as I am concerned, the whole Brexit referendum process was completely flawed from start to finish. I am not a supporter of the #Brexit proposition. I believe it will be a complete disaster for the UK. This is not based on the tale that was told by George Osborne and David Cameron in project fear. This is based on the fact that after two years, no one from the Brexit side has been able to come up with a coherent vision for a post #Brexit UK. When they are challenged by reality, they say "German car exporters and French farmers will not allow a situation where the EU denies them access to UK markets". This is absolute nonsense. Should a situation happen where these special interest groups are disadvantaged, the EU will do what the EU always does. It will give them aid in the form of grants and subsidies to shut them up.

Unlike the Brexit supporting right and hard left, I will make a prediction as to exactly how Brexit will look. There will be a carve up, where the large vested interests are protected. The UK banks and the financiers will have free access to markets. In return,  the German car makers and the French farmers will have tariff free trade. The big boys and the multinationals will carry on as they were. Bankers, financiers, German car makers etc will be given special status and the rest of us can go to hell.

As for UK sovereignty, I suspect an absolute nightmare scenario. The EU know that there is a seemingly ever growing nationalist block in the EU who will be looking to see what the UK can get. The EU know that any concessions are petrol on the fire. The UK government knows that it has to be seen to deliver a deal that "returns sovereignty to the UK". What we will end up with is a deal where both sides can say they've won. The UK will have the right to make all its own laws, so long as they are completely aligned with Europe. Where they are not, the UK will have to pay huge amounts of compensation to the EU for the privilege.

Unlike many people who support #Remain, I am happy to admit that the EU is a deeply flawed institution and the bureaucracy that runs it puts its own interests before everything else. Unlike most #Brexit fans, I recognise that this means that post #Brexit the UK will get shafted at every opportunity. No one on either side will ever say this publicly, but if you believe any other scenario, you really need to wake up and smell the coffee.

In short, the people who support Brexit will be screaming betrayal. As the economy unravels, they will scream that it is because the "people were betrayed". These siren voices who's idea of a good deal is to crash out and trade on WTO terms, will say that it is all down to the failure to listen to them. Whilst hard right MP's (such as Hendon MP Matthew Offord) are pushing Theresa May to pull out of negotiations and simply trade on WTO rules and see what deals we can do with the rest of the world, the business world are horrified. If a majority of the FTSE 100 top companies were supporting this idea, maybe I'd take note. However the people who generate wealth in the UK are petrified of such an option. They recognise that such a turn of events would be a disaster for UK business. Whilst Brexiteer MP's want to put their fingers in their ears and shout "La La La", the people who actually have to trade and keep businesses running haven't got a clue what basis the UK will be trading with its biggest partners on. If we crash out on to WTO rules, everything we sell into the EU zone will become 10% more expensive to them. Not only that but everything we buy will also be 10% more expensive. If you are buying  a new Merc that is a huge sum, even a nice French wine costing £10 will cost a pound more.

Of course for exporters, we could see the £ crash, which may keep our products competitive, except all of the raw materials they import would be more expensive. One argument that #Brexiteers are using is that the vote was nearly 2 years ago and the economy is doing OK. It hasn't occurred to them that this is because there is no change yet. We have free trade and £ that is lower against the Euro. This is translating into inflation in the High Street. Exporters are benefitting, because they have a lower pound and access to free markets. When the free markets access goes, the game changes.

Of course, we may start doing deals with non EU countries and blocs. There has been speculation that Australia is quite excited about the prospect. As someone who is half Australian, this has some attractions, but to suggest that Australia can in any way make up for EU trade is completely bonkers. As to India and China, they see us as an export market and a small one at that. Whist we have some excellent companies such as Rolls Royce, etc who are world leaders, countries like China are far more interested in building up their capabilities in these areas and don't have a great record on respecting intellectual property rights. I am not sure a free trade deal would be a marvellous idea, until we can be sure that they don't simply use it to build their own market and capabilities.

The Brexit campaign dismisses any and every argument as "project fear". Cameron and Osborne did a huge disservice to the case for Remain with their negative campaigning. No effort was made to make the case for the enormous benefits the EU brings to the UK. No mention of scientific collaboration, the benefits of visa free travel, free trade and the ability to work anywhere in Europe. No mention of the benefit to UK farmers of seasonal EU migrant labour. No mention of the benefits to the UK of EU laws. Harmonisation of standards has meant that we can sell goods across Europe. EU compensation laws mean that if our flight is delayed, we are compensated. EU safety laws mean that we have the lowest level of industrial injuries in history. EU brand protection means that Scottish Whisky sellers are protected against knock off brands calling themselves "Scotch".

After the Referendum, I rejoined the Lib Dems. They are the only party with a sane and rationalt approach to the issue. The Tories are hopelessly split. The cabinet are fighting like Polecats. The Labour Party are simply too cowardly to offer any opposition at all. We have a situation where 37% of the electorate made a bad decision based on dodgy data, having been mislead by both sides. How do we get out of this mess? The first thing I'd suggest is that in the council elections in May, we send the Tory government a strong message that they have lost our support and trust. I would urge everyone tp vote Lib Dem in any Council seat they have a chance of winning. If the Lib Dems do not have a realistic chance, then ask the Tory and Labour candidates where they stand on the issue. In Barnet, there are decent Tories such as Gabriel Rozenberg who are strongly and publicly pro #Remain. There are some who are rabidly anti Brexit such as Daniel Thomas. I would urge you to put your party allegiances to one side and simply cast your votes for the candidates who are onside on this issue. You have three votes, use them wisely,

My preference would be to put the final deal to the vote when and if the Tories ever sort a deal out. I would make voting compulsory, as we make participating in the Census. I would offer four choices.

a) Take the deal on offer and Leave the EU
b) Drop the deal and Remain
c) I don't care, do what you like
d) I don't trust the information you've given me, so I can't vote

This is an important decision, the whole nation needs to participate. I would say that if option d) wins then we should call a general election and start the whole process again.

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