The recent amendment to the Queen’s speech by some in the Labour Party struck me as decidedly odd – asking the Tories not to support their own Queen’s speech was always a very long shot. Corbyn’s reaction may have been disrespectful to the 70% odd of Labour voters who wanted to remain. But as this leaves him without having to take ownership of Brexit negotiations, I rather agree with Dr Mike Galsworthy of Scientists for the EU that it may have been a reasonably smart move.
And although rumours remain that Corbyn in the Benn tradition, wants out of the EU, I doubt that he will in the end be able to justify his support of that view.
So I thought I might try and summarise the reasons to remain.
First the ‘negative’ ones:
- Most obviously, after seven years of austerity and with a shrunken and demoralised civil service together with a set of politicians both lacking vision and negotiating skills, Britain is in no position – if even it ever was – to get a good deal, never mind the best deal, maybe any deal.
- There is little doubt that leaving will make the UK poorer. Far from ‘frictionless trade’, trade will necessarily be slowed as, as has so often been pointed out, the UK will not get a better deal out than it originally had in. That is not spite or contempt, it is just a political necessity for the EU.
- It is important for the future of the UK (particularly if we want to ‘take control’) and especially, given the current US regime, that we are not forced further into bed than we are already with the United States. The EU provides a friendly and local counterweight.
- Doubling the distance halves the trade. So the idea that we’ll get all these wonderful trade agreements with other larger nations thousands of miles away, even if by some fluke they materialised, doesn’t alter what I think is referred to as the gravity model of trade and is endearingly and simply explained here. And doubling the distance still halves the trade even with the jet engine and advanced telecommunications. Yet we share a common land border with the Irish Republic, and the English Channel, if we need reminding, is just 21 miles wide.
And then a little more positively:
- The EU has been good at – or at the minimum not destructive of – engendering peace, on a continent that has given rise to the last two world wars.
- The EU enables Britain to participate in setting common EU and international standards. Although if Brexit had been properly handled Britain would have better propspects of an individual input according to Dr Richard North, the proponent of Flexit. He is however, noticeably dismissive of Britain’s current negotiating team who tellingly and amusingly he labels “wand wavers.”
- The EU is of sufficient size to stand up for individuals and individual countries against the corporate world and world corporations.
- The EU facilitates easier repatriation of serious criminals among its members.
- The EU provides at least some safety in numbers against backsliding on climate change.
- The EU provides a substantial co-operative platform for scientific research and academia in general.
- The single market (a British idea of course) enables the EU to provide just one lot of red tape for all and not 28 different sorts.
I may have missed some compelling reasons to remain and I’d be delighted if others can provide additions.
Of course all these reasons to remain could be separately negotiated and continue outside the EU, but then that rather begs the question as to why exactly are we leaving?
If we do eventually leave it would be self inflicted harm simply to enable the ‘wand wavers’ to work their magic.
I fear wreaking havoc would be much more likely.