By Paula Kirby a member of one of the SY2E – Remain in the EU groups.
This is a very slightly edited version of something I posted on a friend’s FB page yesterday in response to one of his friends, who had accused the Remain campaign failing to make a positive case for staying in the EU.
Please feel free to share if you would like to.
No, [name redacted]. We know what we have from EU membership and the benefits it gives our country. It’s the Brexiters who want to pull the plug on all that and gamble it all on the roll of an enormous dice, so it’s about time they started telling us exactly how they intend to make good the losses we’d incur through Brexit. No more waving their hands around and saying “Oooh, it’ll all come out in the wash” and “We’ll be able to keep all the bits we like, and dump the bits we don’t” and “We’re British, don’t you know”.
Facts. Specifics. Plans. How exactly do they propose to ensure that a post-Brexit UK would thrive? They might like to start by telling us how exactly they would go about recreating trade agreements with countless different countries, and how they would ensure that those negotiations would be concluded speedily despite experienced negotiators pointing out that they almost always take several (7, 8, 9, 10) years to achieve, and the countries concerned telling us that concluding a trade deal with the UK alone would be low priority for them.
And how about telling us how they would persuade countries like Japan to go on investing here, when those countries have made it very clear that their interest in the UK would be greatly diminished if it were no longer a springboard to the rest of the EU.
They might also like to tell us how they would go about persuading every single other EU member country to give us the generous exit terms Brexiters are claiming would be ours for the asking – when those member countries have every incentive to make the process as difficult and unsatisfactory (from our point of view) as possible, for fear that other countries might want to follow suit.
Remember that EU deals of this kind need to be unanimous. Remember, too, that France has already said it would veto such a deal. And don’t give me that nonsense about them needing us more than we need them. The proportion of EU trade with the UK is absolutely dwarfed by the proportion of our trade with the EU.
And once the Brexiters have done that, they can move on and tell us exactly how they plan to address and overcome the concerns of university chancellors, who have seen their universities thrive as a result of EU membership and its associated freedom of movement, mechanisms for facilitating collaboration, and funding. Or the concerns of diplomats. And economists. And business leaders. And environmentalists. And scientists. Specifics, please.
Why do you suppose all those experts, from so many fields, are so alarmed at the prospect of Brexit? How exactly do the Brexiters propose to persuade them? (Clue: “Oh, you’re just being negative” isn’t going to cut it. When are the Brexiters going to start setting out in detail why all those specialists have got it so wrong?)
And how much government and civil service time would be spent post-Brexit scrummaging around trying to recreate WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE, and why is that a good use of their time, given that there’s a country to be run and an economy to be grown and education to improve and a health service to fund and a pensions crisis to resolve and climate change to be countered?
And how do you suppose other countries will be spending the years and years we would be distracted in this way? Are they going to politely wait for us to resume business as usual, or are they going to be forging ahead while we’re desperately trying to rebuild what we have foolishly torn down? We all know the answer to that one.
It’s not the Remain camp that’s lacking positivity. Remain are very clear about the huge number of ways we all benefit from our membership. The Leave camp doesn’t have a clue how it would resolve matters following Brexit (or perhaps it does, and knows it would be unacceptably painful – there has to be some reason why they have so far failed to get down to any specifics whatsoever).
They are advocating the Father Christmas scenario – we’re going to get nice things by some kind of magic, and it’s not going to cost us a penny or hurt in the least! But as all grown-ups know, there’s no Father Christmas. There are no free gifts, no magic wands, no flying reindeer.
When the Leave camp has something more concrete than wishful thinking; when it can demonstrate why its analyses and predictions are more reliable and credible than those of the vast majority of experts in every affected field, THEN it might be worth listening to.
But I’m not holding my breath. So far it’s Remain that has made its case and Leave that’s just offered empty promises based on myths, lies, and hollow, highly dubious nationalism. Brexiters are asking us to gamble our future on 23 June, and I simply do not believe we Brits are reckless and foolhardy enough to fall for it on the day.