Since June 23rd volumnes of analysis and comment have already been written in newspapers and online, about the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union as the result of a referendum. However, nobody fully understands all of the consequences of Brexit, as 43 years of treaties – between the United Kingdom and her nearest neighbours – will have to be taken apart. The immediate consequence of the result was that the value of the pound fell.
Once the UK leaves the EU after two or more years of negotiations: British passport holders will have to wait in the queue for “All other passport holders” to enter a member state of the European Union, opposite to the queue they now wait in as “Citizens of the European Union”. If the EU decides to impose visa requirements on British passport holders entering a member state of the EU as a consequence of Brexit, then it means that the status of a British passport has also been devalued. How will the British economy fare by being excluded from the European single market? The 27 remaining members of the EU might not be willing to give British goods and services privileged access to the single market.
Many other benefits of EU membership will be lost for British citizens because of Brexit. These include the Charter of Fundamental rights which protects the human rights of EU citizens by law, and environmental protection policies. The EU has a policy to fight climate change by imposing caps on greenhouse gas emissions. This is part of a policy to create a low-carbon economy as Europe re-invests in renewable forms of energy, and energy storage: to create new jobs to replace jobs lost in tradtional industries.
While the United Kingdom is a member of the EU a British citizen has the right to live, work, and travel in any EU country, but these rights are threatened by Brexit. Will thousands of retired British people living in Spain be forced to return to the UK, because they no longer have the legal right to reside in an EU member state? Will British workers in Germany lose their jobs, because they will no longer have the automatic right to work there?
How much funding will local communities lose throughout the United Kingdom as a result of the decision to leave the EU? European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) provide grants for regions in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland to help fight climate change with a “Low Carbon” grants; financial help to make small businesses more competitive “SME Support”; support for “Research and Innovation”; and grants that provide “Access to Employment”, and “Learning and Skills”. Details of these EU funded grants can be seen on a UK government website at https://www.gov.uk/european-structural-investment-funds . All of these grants will be terminated once the UK leaves the EU.
It is hard to understand why 52 percent of voters in the EU referendum decided that the UK should leave the EU, when there was so much to lose? The Vote Leave campaign had been very successful in getting its message across, which said to voters in a leaflet: “We send the EU £350 million a week – let’s fund our NHS instead”. However, this claim has been disputed: where did the Vote Leave campaign get the figure of £350 million a week from? And if the UK were to leave the EU, could the British public trust Tory ministers who are committed to austerity and public spending cuts to redirect the UK’s EU membership fees into the NHS and other public services?
Vote Leave effectively used the fear of mass immigration to gather support for the UK to leave the EU. The Vote Leave leaflet said: “Over a quarter of a million people migrate to the UK from the EU every year”. What the leaflet did not say is how many people leave the UK every year in order to move to another EU country?
Another Brexit campaign group, Leave.EU, used other methods to get to the electorate. An article by Robert Booth entitled: “Paul McKenna worked on Leave.EU ads”, (The Guardian, 2nd July 2016), said: “The Brexit campaign enlisted TV hypnotist Paul McKenna to advise some of its campaign broadcasts, it has emerged.”
An anonymous source from the Leave.EU campaign was quoted in the article as saying: “We didn’t hypnotise anyone”. How did this source know that nobody was hypnotised? Perhaps members of the Leave.EU campaign team were also hypnotised, along with the target audience of the campaign broadcasts?
The Guardian article also said, “The hypnotist is said to be a friend of Arron Banks, the Bristol-based multimillionaire insurance businessman who bankrolled the Leave.EU campaign with a £5.6m donation.”
In a separate article entitled “Leave donor plans new party to replace UKIP – possibly without Farage in charge” (The Guardian, 29th June 2016), Arron Banks was quoted as saying: “What they said early on was ‘facts don’t work’ and that’s it. The remain campaign featured fact, fact, fact, fact, fact. You have got to connect with people emotionally. It’s the Trump success.”
The quotation above is a stark admission from a Brexiteer that those voting for the UK to leave the EU were responding to emotional stimulus rather than facts. Under these circumstances people could easily have been made to vote against their own self interest. In considering everything that will be lost by the UK’s departure from the EU, a large part of the electorate were voting for: Brexit austerity; a Brexit recession; the removal of legislation which is there to protect them not only as citizens of the United Kingdom, but also as citizens of the European Union. A vote to leave the EU was a vote for destruction.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2016