None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The recriminations on both sides seem to have begun. As the majority of the establishment were against a Brexit then it is only logical that a lot of the reporting has a slant towards why this vote has been such a tragedy despite the fact that proceedings have not even begun. Many have stated this country is deeply divided, stupid, racist and are consequently ashamed to be British. I'd like to discuss some of these points, what a post Brexit Britain could be and why I voted leave.
Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools. And their grandchildren are once more slaves
Over the past few months apparently the UK has suddenly become a deeply divided place. I think this is just people blowing things out of proportion. For one I've never heard a supporter of remain say they didn't want to change the EU in some way. Many remainers said it was undemocratic, that it wasn't in Britain's best interests or was ineffective at representing the will of the people of Europe. The only real difference between a remain and leave voter was whether the EU was repairable or not. Within each view there were different reasons as to why they were voting, indeed many on leave disagreed on immigration for example. The idea that British people are deeply divided is nonsense. In fact its just good old nasty tribal politics, the divide and conquer reasoning, the 'us' and 'them' mentality. Rich and poor, north and south, upper class and lower class only the wording has just been changed to 'leave' and 'remain'. Nothing good can come if we get led like sheep down the tribal war path going forward.
There were also accusations that people who voted were stupid. This has been predominately aimed at leave voters who have been accused of voting for the wrong reasons. Of course people who voted for leave voted on a variety of issues. Freedom, democratic rights, immigration, tired of the EU regulations or they believed £350 million could be spent on the NHS every week and so on. The people who voted against the EU's freedom of movement have been labelled as idiots. However many in remain voted for what I thought were fairly irrational and false reasons. Some people believed they would no longer be able to buy French wine, we would no longer be able to go on holiday in Europe or many actually believed that we were leaving Europe instead of the political union the EU, unable to distinguish between the two. Indeed when speaking to remainers and asking them to guess my position they don't even mention the main reason why I voted which was Freedom. They were unaware of that even being a reason despite in my view the key agenda of leaving the EU was for Freedom. So did people vote for stupid reasons? Possibly but both sides in my opinion voted for reasons I would consider trivial or non-existent. As a leave voter I consider immigration a non-issue, however many in leave considered it their main issue and I will discuss why this indeed may be a valid concern to them and we can't keep sidelining such discussions as it will never go away unless confronted.
When we come to the racist tag that has now been put upon 52% of people who voted or over 17 million people I have to completely disagree and think the people who say such things are quite frankly mad. Sure some of those 17 million do harbour racist views but they are a minority. The British has some of the most tolerant people in the world. When I have worked with foreign people they generally agree compared with their own countries. When I have travelled I have witnessed it. So how come overnight half the country turned into a bunch skin head racists? Quite simply they didn't. Many in leave voted overwhelmingly for democracy, for self determination and a decentralisation of powers. Others did vote to control immigration but this does not suddenly make them racist. From a personal point of view one of the only benefits to the EU was the freedom of people and capital so if anyone understands the freedom of movement is great thing it would be myself. However I am humble enough to walk a mile in another persons shoes. If you are on low wages, have an insecure job with little job prospects then I can see why you may feel threatened by immigration. These people are not racist in fact in many instances are hard working decent people who are composed of different ethic backgrounds themselves and have friends of different ethnic backgrounds. Rather than trying to understand their concerns for years politicians and intellectuals have ignored them and labelled them 'little people', with contempt and snobbery. People of supposed educated backgrounds should not ignore them but understand their concerns rather than shouting racist at them (which is no better than a bigot). My fears are that many will still further ignore their views, continue to call them racist and try to ignore the referendum results. People who do such things will actually drive these people towards racist views, racist organisations and so on as they seek more radical options, embittered by their experience if they are ignored by the mainstream. People with contempt for immigration concerns are no better than the actual racist and by ignoring the issue they in turn are also igniting racial tensions. We can not afford to let this happen and must confront the concerns of such voters.
Regarding the "Ashamed to be British" comment I would like to analyse my reasons for voting to leave and if there are any remain voters then I hope they will understand my viewpoint even if they still disagree with it. First a bit of background on my beliefs.
I believe there is no greater goal than freedom and personal liberty. I'm a libertarian who believes in the non-aggression principle. In short my belief is that no one has a right to force someone to do something against their free will and no one has a right to take/steal someone else's stuff. I'm a strong believer in these principles therefore I take them to their logical conclusion and can be labelled an anarcho-capitalist. If that sounds alien then put simply I'm someone who believes in individual freedom, that's all (I realise democracy is an institution of force but the majority of people prefer that to settle disputes so if someone asks me to vote for freedom and these are the rules set by the majority then I will).
There were two options in the referendum, one in which we should govern ourselves the other if should we have a mix of some laws being done in the UK and some in the EU. If we look at how laws are made in the UK they are made in parliament. Everyone has access to a local MP who can propose and discuss legislation. If unhappy with your local MP you can campaign to remove him/her at an election - this happens all the time. The local people have this power due to the first past the post system and they directly decide who they send to parliament, not the party, not someone else - just the local people. For example I could stand as an independent and if my local MP John Redwood has aggravated Wokingham residents then we can kick him out very easily. In fact this is one of the reasons MPs are so sympathetic to local residents. They know the people have the real power and they are merely servants to them.
Now if we look at the EU political union by contrast there are no local MEPs only a selection of MEPs for a region, my region being the south east. They are voted in through a proportional representation system whereby people vote for a party, votes are counted then each party selects candidates based on their own choosing. I have no access to a direct MEP here. I can't sack Nigel Farage, this can only happen if the whole region does not vote for UKIP. Also I have no direct person in the European parliament. Only a collection of MEPs for the south who may not care about local issues for Wokingham. Its no wonder turnout is very low for European elections, at around 40% - I bet many of us can name our MP but very few of us could name our MEPs
Once we elect MEPs they go to the European parliament to represent us. Out of the 750 or so MEPs the UK has around 74 or 10%. However unlike the UK Parliament MEPs are unable to propose legislation - they can only vote for legislation proposed by the European commission. Whats the commission? Commissioners are nominated by their member states along with the help of the EU commission president. Then there's the European Council and the Council of European Union and other institution deciding certain laws. Its getting rather complicated and rather removed from the people having real power over law makers.
However if we ignore all this the UK only has a 10% say on legislation that is proposed if we look at the ratio of British MEPs. The UK MEPs disagree with other European MEPs more than any other country, in short many laws that are passed are not in the interests of Britain yet we now have over 50% of our laws made by the EU, 40 years ago it was none. Britain has been overruled in the Council of the European Union 72 times out of 72. I could go on. Suffice to say Britain has different ideas and beliefs then many EU member countries and the EU is not representing the will of the British people very well. In short UK parliament, although not my ideal, is that one step closer to people having more freedom.
Now people will say we can reform the EU but if we look at past trends we can quite clearly see that the EU will take more and more power away from parliament and the people. The EU started as a simple trade block. Over the years its role has crept into ever more functions. The legal system, a currency, regulations on Businesses, a parliament and several other institutions - none of which existed 40 years ago when we originally voted to join. It is only a matter of time until it becomes a fiscal union taking budgets away from the member states into the EU parliament to decide what to spend the money on. With ever further centralisation of powers this can never be a good thing for any of us. If history has taught us anything its that centralised power leads to tyranny.
There have been claims that by leaving the EU we are somehow abandoning Europe and it could cause the far right to rise and we are better together. However this in my opinion is historically incorrect. Throughout the European continent during the 1930's many of the major states were succumbing to dictatorships. Germany, Italy, Spain - in France it was touch and go. On the periphery, Austria, Poland, Romania, Greece to name a few all succumbed to authoritarian regimes. The 1930's European consent was rule by dictatorship. Britain was a rare exception. It had a mature democracy and never lurked towards such an extreme keeping power decentralised in the hands of its people. Indeed when war broke it was Britain that provided the platform for the resistance against Totalitarian regimes exactly because it had its own power and democracy. It enabled many Europeans to fight alongside the British who seeked refuge in her lands to take on the fight. What if we had the EU back in 1930's Europe? What if the EU along with the existing political union had fiscal union and an Army, both of which all the EU leaders have been openly discussing for years and in my opinion are only a matter of time before they will happen? Britain would have been conquered in an instance and so the liberty in Europe would have been extinguished. The best way to stop authoritarian regimes is to distribute power as much as possible. Once again I would argue Britain may have even saved Europe from a monolithic, ever more authoritarian regime such as the EU is morphing into. Even if the EU will not morph into a totalitarian regime (and I'm pretty confident it won't) it will definitely become more authoritarian and will not represent the will of Europes citizens.
There has also been a lot of people who are fearful of the future. The FTSE and pound dropped and there has been various comments from businesses of general uncertainty. As a leave voter all this was predictable as no one has ever left the EU before so the markets have no idea of how to price any of this in therefore this results in volatility. As the UK is the second largest net contributor the markets have no idea now how the EU will fiscally be able to function. There's a number of factors to look at. First the markets had priced in a remain victory hence when it turned out to be leave they had to sell as a lot of over buying that had occurred making it a more pronounced correction. Second markets rebounded quite sharply, for example headlines had the FTSE falling 8% but actually a lot of these losses rebounded and it only ended the day around 2-3% down - in fact over the week before Brexit it was up. Also if we take a look at other assets in Europe for example the Italian, German and French stock markets fell further than the FTSE. The bond prices in the UK were far better than in the EU. The Euro fell, just not quite as steep as the pound. In short the markets think the EU needs Britain and are unsure how they are going to pay for the inevitable bailouts for not only Greece, but Italy, Spain, Portugal and France not to mention other periphery European countries. And when we get a recession, which we will, don't believe the lies that "it was Brexit that did it!". I have been blogging on the next recession for the past couple of years, its in the making and its going to be bad. The bond/currency bubble will not end well, but Brexit didn't cause it, it has been various Governments actions.
Many have suggested that the EU will no longer wish to trade with Britain and will punish them for abandoning the EU. For one if the EU officials think like this then this shows their authoritarian nature, not a force for peace and prosperity as they always like to portray. If this is the case then do we really want to be part of a political entity that will quite happily act like a dictatorship, punishing not just British people but many people of the EU who trade with us, costing thousands of peoples jobs just because a few politicians grudge? If they do not wish to trade then I believe this will harm the EU countries far more than us, as mentioned many members have perilous public finances that are waiting to collapse. Many EU State politicians will not want this. Recently the EU has suggested that the only way to have full trade as we currently do is to allow the free movement of people and capital. Personally I welcome this as that was the only thing I liked about the EU but I believe we should ask the British people what they want with this as I realise this would annoy many people. If we we did have free trade then this shows how empty the fears of Brexit have been as there would literally be no difference only we would be in control to debate make our own laws.
By leaving the EU we are not turning our back on Europe. We are instead opening our arms to not just Europe but to the World. Being in the EU is inward looking not outward as many have been stating. I firmly believe that we will view leaving the EU as one of the best things we ever did. People in the future will wonder why anyone would have voted to remain in an institution caused hardship for member states. Whats done is done. We all have different opinions. Even people on the leave side disagreed with one another why they were leaving the EU. In the past we would accept the vote and respect one another's opinion; we would be tolerant. Instead many disregard the democratic result and request another referendum against the peoples free will until they get the result they desire, however that's exactly what I though would happen. Other peoples views are fine until you disagree with them, right? Wrong. Lets be British. That means being tolerant, amicable and decent towards one another. It also means accepting peoples alternative views.
If anyone has anything to loose economically it is me. I have a young family, 2 kids and I am the sole earner with a large mortgage. I happen to believe that Brexit has the potential to create an economic boom compared with the countries that stay in the EU for us and for our children, the only people that can stop that are the British people themselves. However I believe that freedom is not a question of what the short term value of the FTSE is or my pension fund or my house. If my house has to go down 50% in order to buy my kids liberty then I would gladly make that sacrifice. Nor does leaving the EU guarantee that liberty will prevail. We could royally screw it up by voting for a Socialist of far right party. As I've discussed before they may water down the Brexit so it amounts to nothing, we can already see the forces against this (in fact this will probably be the most likely outcome meaning no one gets what they want). But Brexit gives liberty a chance to escape and maybe, just maybe people of Britain may hold dear those ideals once more. Should we be ashamed of people who voted leave who believed in such ideals; freedom?
In the past British people gave their lives for freedom. When Britain stood alone in the 1940's against European Fascism my grandparents didn't think "oh err, won't this shave 10% off my house price?". When the suffragettes died they didn't worry if this would crash the stock market. We fought a civil war against one another and people risked beheading for acts of regicide to give other people and future generations free rights. When we made slavery illegal did we worry about the economic consequences? Some people did, the slave establishment, but others didn't worry about short term economic cost they knew that it was morally the right thing to do regardless of the effect it had on their bank balance (as it turned out Britain boomed like never before during the 19th Century). Brexit should not be viewed under an economic light. It is a moral issue - freedom is not worth any short term economic price. Brexit gives the British people freedom and control of their own destiny once more. Its only us that can throw that opportunity away now.