That the economy will suffer after Brexit there seems little doubt. Even if everything turns out as the Brexiters wish, the very uncertainty will be enough to slow the economy for years, leaving us running to catch-up and make good the damage. And the hard evidence that the economy will even do as well, let alone better, after Brexit is, to put it politely, thin. Shakespeare has Owain Glyndwr (though it could just as well be Boris Johnson in this instance) say ‘I can summon spirits from the vasty deep!’ to which Hotspur (or maybe David Cameron) replies, ‘Why so can I, or so can any man; But will they come when you do call for them?’ We can all say ‘Tomorrow will be glorious.’ But tomorrow may have its own ideas on the matter.
Yet while the economy and well-being of Britons is perhaps the principle reason for voting to remain in the EU on June 23rd, there are plenty of other reasons.
Brexit almost certainly will have a fundamental effect on the political geography of Europe over the medium term. That includes the UK itself.
To take this latter first: it is almost certain that in the EU referendum the Scots will vote by some margin to remain. In this case the demand for a second independence referendum would be irresistible. And while no one can predict the outcome of that a majority could well be persuaded that the advantages of remaining part of the EU and a destination for continuing inward investment and European funding outweighed any possible advantage that might accrue from continuing as part of the UK.
Such a break up of the UK would weaken our influence over world events, lessen our ability to negotiate satisfactory trade deals and make the remnant of the UK into an even smaller offshore island.
Then there’s the EU itself. Britain is one of the EU’s three large member states. Should Britain leave the EU would inevitably come to be dominated by Germany. This is not something that anyone wants, even the Germans. The political geography of our Continent would be tilted in the direction of a single dominant power, something that Britain, down the ages, has fought wars to avoid. An EU dominated by a single member state in this way would be unlikely to survive very long and if it didn’t one of two things could happen.
There might be a rush for more harmonisation to create a United States of Europe. Should this happen Britain (with or without Scotland) could be in the same position as Ireland was in the 1950’s and 60’s, a poor country dominated by its larger neighbour, to whom a great part of its brightest talent would emigrate. London would cease to be a capital that mattered. Visiting Heads of State would fly straight to Berlin.
Alternatively the EU could become unstable and break-up with countries unwilling to accept German domination and following Britain’s lead by preferring to pursue ‘beggar my neighbour’ policies, in other words to do a Brexit themselves. This would not help prosperity or progress in Europe and given our reliance on the Single Market would gravely damage Britain.
These twin dangers – the break-up of the UK and the break-up of the EU – cannot be discounted and are of themselves vivid reasons to think most carefully of the potential consequences of any Brexit vote. Vote Leave’s slogan of ‘Take Control’ is highly misleading. Far from controlling events we could find ourselves precipitated into an unforeseen maelstrom of events in which our notional ‘control’ was of no help at all.
Once again with thanks to Peter Sain ley Berry a member of the one of the Say Yes 2 Europe – Remain in the EU groups.