The debate is now on and in 100 days we have to make a decision that will have repercussions for at least the next 30 years.
Lots of people are arguing over the issues of sovereignty. But I should declare my point of view – In an increasingly global world, it not a question of whether we should pool our sovereignty, it is only a question of with whom we should be collaborating?
Great Britain has just 1.3% of the world’s people but we still run the 5th largest economy (by gdp). We are disproportionately well represented in the institutions of the world which is a legacy of our days as an imperial power. None of these benefits are seen by the rest of the world as ‘the natural order of things’, and they are unlikely to help us to sustain them beyond the very near future.
Some claim that there is a democratic deficit at the heart of Europe and that is grounds for leaving. It is True there is a democratic deficit which I deplore!
But that democratic deficit is not unique to Europe. There is a democratic deficit in our 2nd chamber the Lords, or in our eviscerated local government. The house of commons is the most centralised and powerful of all the governments of Europe and whenever we try to deliver democratic accountability, central government closes rank to prevent it on the grounds that it diminishes their power. There is no real political will to give democratic legitimacy to any European institutions. That is why the political establishment is unified in its hatred of ‘ever closer union’. How will it help if we are outside of the EU especially if Scotland and Northern Island end up seceding from the UK.
One of the advantages of living longer is that you remember the past. I particularly remember the time when each new Labour election victory was met by a ‘run on the £’. The expectation of poor economic performance meant that the ‘hot money’ of the world’s financiers fled the UK, which in turn devalued the currency and caused the economic problems that they predicted. A vicious circle of self-fulfilling prophesy that impoverished people in the real world. Today that same hot money has been pumping up the UK property bubble to the extent that many people in the South East are now making more from the appreciation of their houses, than they are capable of earning in a full time job.
Once you see lunacy of that magnitude, it is clear that there are troubled times ahead. How should we manage these difficult time? Now is the time when we should be trying hard to make friends not enemies.
Stop the world I want to get off
There are some people who think that the troubles of the EU are the cause of instability rather than the effect. They argue that the EU is on a terminal trajectory towards self-destruction and we should get off the boat before it sinks.
The EU might well be in deep difficulties and I am of the opinion that the global economy is in a worse state than we think because the repercussions of the 2008 banking crisis are yet to work their way through the global economy. Economic dangers abound in all countries and the only bright spot is likely to be the economic stimulus we will derive form the collapse in Oil prices
But even if the EU is especially vulnerable, there are 2 questions we need to consider. If we are at a tipping point of economic Armageddon
1. Could the UK choosing to leave the EU be exactly the push needed to tip the collapse of the EU that we are scared of? There is a sever risk of contagion throughout the continent if we choose to leave.
2. Whether we are inside or outside the EU we will be very adversely affected by a wholesale collapse of the largest economic block in the world. How would being outside the EU protect us from the consequences?
There is some strength in numbers and despite being separated by different languages, our European shared history means that we still have more in common with the people of the EU than we do with the dictatorships of Russia and China or even the type of America being advocated by Donald Trump.
I prefer to face whatever this uncertain future may bring, on the inside of the EU contributing to changes that will help us to collectively navigate a dangerous world, than facing it on our own.
I am sure that if the tectonic plates of the world economy are about to be convulsed by one of its periodic earthquakes, we will be better off as a part of Europe than as the pariah trigger that set it off. An easy target for economic or military forces that may wish to pick us off.