I am perhaps the most unlikely of persons to care about the upcoming Brexit referendum on June 23rd. First of all, I am a foreign national here by will rather than by need, which means that if a post-Brexit Britain doesn’t suit my fancy, I can flee this island in a heartbeat. I am also a UK resident, which means that I am not going to get kicked out in case your side wins. In other words, I’m pretty much immune and indifferent to the whole thing although I definitely side with the Remain camp for the simple reason that I prefer reason, logic, and facts over ignorant or self-deluded sentimentality.
Now, I am directing this little essay not to the vile, racist scum that conform part – but not all – of your ranks. Not all of you vote UKIP, or are members of the EDL or Britain First although the moral laxity which allows you to side with these people without feeling revulsion is frightening. It is not a feeling that I could possibly identify with since I cannot find a single political or ethical issue where I would be at ease in being on the same side of the fence as these people. It therefore makes me wonder whether the frustration and rage of a Remain win on Thursday will be the remaining trigger to cross the event horizon of fascism, an ideological black hole in which civility no longer can escape. You may loathe to be associated with these scumbags, but knowingly or not, you’re on the same track and riding in the same direction.
So you “moderate” Brexiteer, the kind who argues that he/she is 40% Remain and 60% Leave or some variation of this, I will only pose one single question for you to consider before heading to the polls on Thursday. No, it’s about any numbers or statistics; I know you have surrendered to emotion and no amount of facts will convince you otherwise. In fact, I find it cringe-worthy that at this stage some otherwise reasonable people still think that pointing out “the truth” and barraging their Facebook and Twitter feeds with fact-memes or Guardian articles serves any argumentative value (if anything it’s counterproductive and leading you to entrench your views further). Rather, It’s a very simple logical question and I venture to guess that you won’t have an answer for it. Name me a single EU-related grievance that you are using to justify your Leave vote that could not have been addressed and corrected by an appropriate British government policy.
Stop and think about this.
You complain that there’s too much immigration that’s bringing down wages for the working class. Guess what, I agree completely. But why are you blaming the immigrant rather than the employers who often go and advertise jobs in Eastern Europe claiming there’s a “skills shortage” at home as if there were no decent plumbers or builders left? Why don’t you blame the government for promoting labor laws that are “good for business” (read: good for employers) and who turn a blind eye to illegal hiring practices, support zero-hours contracts, and depress the real value of the minimum wage all so they end up favoring their business cronies? These are among the reasons why the white working class is getting screwed over so why don’t you spend half the vitriol you have against excessive immigration into complaining about this instead? Don’t you realize greedy scumbags like Mike Ashley and Phillip Green (who recently bought a new £45 million private jet despite BHS collapsing and 11,000 jobs gone with it) among many others are screwing over the working class more than the hard working Romanian next door who btw, is statistically less likely to be on benefits or use the NHS than the average white Briton?
You complain you are being priced out of a home because there’s so many people coming into the country. Well, it’s funny because in the normal circumstances of a free market and lacking any scarcity in materials or financing, the supply of housing should be easily keeping up with demand. Except that since the 1980s it hasn’t. Blame Thatcher and every government since for basically neutering public housing construction and causing house prices everywhere to skyrocket. To make matters worse, as a result of minimal regulation the private housing industry in Britain – which now accounts for practically the entirety of a construction – is effectively a cartel. It’s colluded into NOT building in order for prices to rise and hence profits to rise in tandem (less building equals less costs, so margins are much higher). The government’s solution has been to extend financing (i.e. debt) and make only token adjustment to some of the most toxic housing policies like buy-to-let which only creates artificial demand (nobody who can’t afford to buy a home should be able to, period). A recent and highly publicized Treasury report said house prices may fall 10-18% if Brexit wins. Well, London house prices rose by an annual 14.5% in January-April which means you’d offset only about one year. Please explain to me how this is due entirely to the EU and not the disgraceful housing policies carried on by the current and previous Tory/Labour administrations that are the ones you should be blaming for if you can’t afford a place to live.
You complain that so many immigrants are becoming a security issue and that Britain would be next in line for a major terrorist style attack. Interesting logic, since the Paris attacks involved French citizens. Indeed, the 7/7 attacks in London also involved British citizens: three of them hailed from Leeds-Bradford and one was born in Jamaica. Had nothing to do with the EU. By and large terrorist attacks in Europe have been caused by nationals of Islamic countries (which would not be affected by Brexit) or by either locally-born Muslims or locally-born white natives (like Anders Breivik in Norway). While there is a risk of transit, such as the case as one of the Paris bombers fleeing to Belgium where he was later captured, the fact that Britain is NOT part of the Schengen Zone and happens to be an island means that it’s far less likely to happen. So, again, how is this related to being in the EU? If you’re afraid of homegrown terrorism, then the solution is to provide jobs and integration to marginalized communities that could fall prey to radicalization. Hey, maybe there’s even some EU funds available for this.
You complain that the country spends too much on the EU and not enough on the NHS. Seriously? Are you THAT blind to the way that the current government has been tearing the NHS at the margins in a hardly disguised process of privatization of all but its core components? Is it because of the EU that the NHS is being forced to outsource services to dodgy and inefficient private companies (coincidentally owned by friends of the Tories), and then cutting budgets so that GPs and A&Es underperform which gives them another excuse for even further privatization? Is slapping on a cruel contract to junior doctors which would force them to work under far more stressful conditions a response to some imaginary EU-imposed cost that cannot be paid otherwise except by slashing the overhead? Don’t fool yourself into thinking the NHS has ANYTHING to do with the EU debate. And don’t be stupid enough to think that any token savings from leaving the EU would be used to beef up the NHS. That’s the last thing that people like Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, or Nigel Farage would use that money for if they’ve spent most of their political careers sabotaging Britain’s most cherished social institution.
If you’re a radical leftist, then you also complain that the EU is simply a part of the global neoliberal agenda and that a vote to remain is a vote for capitalism. You’re probably the one who still think Venezuela is collapsing because of the US-led “economic war”, and that North Korea should stand strong in its defiance of the West. Do you seriously believe Britain will magically revert to some socialist paradise if Leave wins? Do you think the reason Britain has turned into a financialized, hedge fund-loving, scrounger-hating, hyper-capitalist society is because of the EU? You have got to be kidding me. There’s not a whiff of progressiveness or social-democracy among the paladins of the Leave camp; they’re just as capitalist than the Tory Remain camp. Yes, the EU is at its heart a free trade agreement. It also happens to be a rather benign one, one that conditions itself on labor protection, environmental standards, and the free movement of people to go along with the free movement of capital (the only major free trade zone that allows this). These are all things you should be standing for, with the added advantage that you don’t have to suffer from the EU’s biggest economic mistake: the Euro. If you still want to delude yourself otherwise, then bugger off with George Galloway to some island of naïve imbecility where you and other radical left-wing ideologues belong.
Lastly – and this is the point that seems to unite Brexiteers on the left and right – you insist that your Leave vote is to “punish” the political class for not listening to working/middle class concerns. Why are you so quick to use the EU as a scapegoat for your lousy national electoral choices? Did you vote Tory in 2015? It’s highly likely that you, my dear moderate Brexiteers, did. And knowing the kind of despicable elitists that these people are, you genuinely thought that they would give a fuck about the working class? Interesting how you didn’t “punish” them at the polls last year but you think you’re doing a service to the working class by quitting the EU and possibly losing many of the labor rights that you only have thanks to it. Given that a lot of big businesses will lose money out of Brexit, don’t be surprised if the government then decides that cutting back on your holidays and maternity leave will be “the only way to keep British businesses profitable”. That’s the kind of assholes Cameron and Osborne et al are in case you haven’t noticed after six years. You claim that you have no voice on issues of national concern and somehow this has something to do with Brussels rather than Westminster. And as a result, you commit what is known as the fallacy of association: if the political class likes the EU, but you hate the political class, then you must hate the EU too. This is completely illogical (and outright stupid). It is also incredibly damaging for the country you claim to love. A vote on an issue that will affect generations to come deserves better than this kind of childish, immature reasoning.
The EU isn’t perfect and the continent’s current chaos certainly does not inspire the same fuzzy feelings the way the idealized vision of an immigrant-less Britain which is still a world power, wears tweed, and has bad teeth seems to provoke in the Leave camp. Folks, the empire ain’t coming back, and the pub will still smell of soggy beer-spilled carpet just the way you like it whether you’re in or out of the EU. Get over it. But most importantly, don’t be a hypocrite. If you can’t find a reason why you want to vote Leave that doesn’t have as its root cause a policy pursued by British politicians, be it Tory or Labour or Lib Dem or whatever, then you’re simply looking for a scapegoat to compensate for the domestic policies that have left this country in the state that it is. And if you’ve voted for these parties, then your Leave vote reflects nothing more than the a lack of humility to admit you’ve been duped. YOU’RE the problem, not Europe. So wise up, save your pent up rage, and direct it on those who truly are to blame. I’m providing a picture below so you know where to find them.
P.S. I’m not expecting anyone to actually read this and suddenly go out and proclaim to the world that they’re switching sides to the Remain camp and bombarding their Facebook wall with pro-EU memes. Voting is secret and your opinion on social media is optional. Nobody has to know that did the right thing on June 23rd.