The EU Referendum

People are probably by now getting fed-up with all the arguments around the EU Referendum, and maybe don’t need yet another opinion to consider. However there is so much mis-information and scaremongering being put out, by both sides, that I’d like  to try and bring some clarity to the debate.

Whatever happens there are going to be winners and losers both ways,  and even for any individual there will be positives and negatives whatever the result. The decision is complex, and when people state categorically that we’re better off if we stay or if we go, they are guilty of a gross over-simplification. What follows is therefore my attempt at a simple impartial review of all the main arguments put forward so far. Here goes:

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The vote on EU membership is the biggest decision Britain has taken for generations. Picture © Eric Chan

THE ECONOMY:  This has been the main thrust of the Remain campaign. They are predicting that the economy will crash if we leave and we’ll all be worse off, and are using the evidence of numerous economists to support this. It should be remembered though that hardly any economists were able to predict the crash of 2008, and most economists thought we would be worse off not joining the Euro. It’s also worth remembering that when the International Monetary Fund criticised George Osborne’s fiscal policies he said they didn’t know what they were talking about (but now they agree with him on the EU he supports them).

Economics is a very dark art, and because its predictions are dependent on the mood and behaviour of millions of ordinary people, it is almost impossible to get right. If we leave the EU we may lose our Free Trade deal with the EU, damaging our economy; but on the other hand we might cut a deal with them and little damage is done. We might be able to make our own Free Trade Deals with other major countries, boosting our economy; or maybe that will be prove to be very difficult. We may rebuild our trading relationship with the Commonwealth, again boosting our economy; but then again maybe we won’t. If the pound crashes on the exchange markets the effect might be to boost our economy by making our exports cheaper, so increasing trade; or it may damage our economy by making imports more expensive – or maybe the pound won’t crash at all.  On the other hand if we stay in the EU we may be seriously affected by any one of the numerous economic risks coming down the line there, and it might be better for us if we get out while we can – or maybe that won’t happen either.

The truth of the matter is that all the economic forecasts rely on so many assumptions that it is impossible to say anything with any degree of certainty. People will inevitably quote the economists whose predictions they like, but in my view there are so many unknowns here that the issue is almost irrelevant. There is as much chance of an exit from the EU boosting our economy as there is of it damaging it, and the truth is no-one knows. If you want to submit to fear – ‘better the devil you know’ – then fine. But in my view if we always ran our lives by forever ‘playing safe’ we’d never achieve much of any value at all. Overall I think the economic future is too vague to be able to form any reasonable judgments.

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Jean-Claude Juncker is President of the un-elected European Commission. Picture © Factio popularis Europaea

DEMOCRACY: The EU gives us the illusion of Democracy, by allowing us to vote for the European Parliament. However all legislation is actually driven by the European Commission, which is not elected, and is therefore not democratic. The only thing the European Parliament can do is review and amend the legislation, but it cannot introduce or recommend policy. If that’s not clear consider this: in the UK we vote for the House of Commons, based on political parties, candidates, and the manifestos they propose. The House of Lords (which is not elected) can amend, and very occasionally block legislation. However all the main legislative processes take place in the elected House of Commons, as they should do. In the EU the reverse is true. Policy is discussed and put forward by the (unelected) European Commission, and all the European Parliament can do is talk, discuss and amend that. That is why you will never see a manifesto during the European elections – because members of the European Parliament are not in a position to put forward policies. The whole set-up is a complete undermining of democratic principles. Why is it like this? Because the EU elite do not trust the people of Europe to vote for the right policies or make the right decisions. The remain camp say we should stay in the EU and attempt to bring reform, but there has been no progress on this issue for 30 years, and anyway human history doesn’t have a very good track record at getting un-elected bodies to reform themselves.

WORKERS RIGHTS: A lot has been made of the undeniably excellent progress that has been made on workers rights by EU legislation. The argument has been put forward that if we leave the EU, the Tory government will repeal that legislation and all those rights will be lost. What we have to consider therefore is whether the government would actually do that and, more to the point, if they did so what would stop the British public just voting them out at the next election, and replacing them with a government that would reinstate such rights. The UK Parliamentary System is far from perfect, but we don’t yet live in a right-wing dictatorship, and it seems quite likely that any Tory government pursuing such policies would deliver the next election into the hands of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party.

ENVIRONMENTAL LEGISLATION: As with workers rights, the EU has done excellent things on the environment, and as with workers rights there is no reason why we should not be able to maintain that legislation within our democracy. On some issues (eg Climate Change) the argument is put forward that we cannot succeed without international co-operation. True. But with huge issues like that, the EU is nowhere near big enough anyway – countries like the USA, China and India must also be included. Therefore as good as the EU may be, effective co-operation has to be at a world level, not EU level, and our membership of it, or otherwise, seems to be pretty much irrelevant.

EU GRANTS: Many areas of the country who are the beneficiaries of EU grants worry their sources of funding will dry up if we leave the EU. However bearing in mind we are a net-contributor to the EU (arguments about the exact figures notwithstanding), there is no reason why such funding cannot be provided by the UK government, and with cash to spare.

WAR AND CONFLICT: The Remain side are constantly putting out the opinion that Europe has only been at peace for the last 70 years because of the EU, and if we leave the EU we are risking another world war. However the EU is an economic union, not a military one, so it seems more likely to have been NATO which has kept the peace not the EU. Similarly there are claims that leaving the EU could spur Russia to threaten Poland and the Baltic States. However, again, all those countries are members of NATO, which, as a military alliance, is surely a better defender against war than the EU, which has no military component. This line of argument seems to be something of a red-herring.

TERRORISM/SECURITY: Remain put forward the argument that by not being in the EU, international co-operation against crime and terrorism will be compromised, and we will all be at greater risk of attack. You have to ask yourself whether you think it is realistic that EU countries would really put us, and themselves, at greater danger of attack by refusing to co-operate on security matters, simply because we refuse to be in an economic union with them. It’s also worth remembering that a large part of our international anti-terrorism work is carried out through the ‘Five Eyes’ (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA), which has got nothing to do with the EU at all. This argument again seems to be something of a red-herring.

WORLD/EU LEADERS: Apparently lots of world leaders have come out in support of us staying in the EU. Just remember they are supporting what is in THEIR interests, not OURS. Enough said.

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Free movement of people is probably the biggest single issue of the Referendum debate. Picture © Opihuck

FREE MOVEMENT/MIGRATION: This of course is the big issue of the whole referendum. Originally the idea of free movement of people in the EU was to facilitate mobility of labour to wherever the work was. Until 2004 this generally worked pretty well, with as many people leaving the UK as arriving. However after the accession of the poorer countries of Eastern Europe, this changed to migration, as millions of people came not looking for work, but simply because they wanted to emigrate to wealthier countries and enjoy a higher standard of living. Nobody can blame them for wanting to do that, but the effects on the UK have been dramatic. Though more people in the country undoubtedly leads to increased overall wealth (as the Remain camp are constantly stating) there are huge discrepancies in the way that wealth benefit is distributed. In general businesses and the upper and middle classes do well, as they benefit from the lower wages that new arrivals are prepared to work for, while the lower classes do badly as they have to compete with people prepared to work for less money, and so see their own salaries pushed down. In addition the housing crisis is made worse by the arrival of a net 184,000 EU citizens every year (enough people to fill a city the size of Colchester) pushing up house prices and rents – good for home owners and landlords, but bad for people not wealthy enough to own their own property. Of course there is also the massive pressure on public services (schools, NHS, transport etc) as it is simply not possible to expand public services at the rate necessary to keep up with the flow of new people. The Remain camp are quick to highlight how many immigrants staff our public services – particularly the NHS – though with 1.6 million people unemployed the root cause of this has been the failure of successive governments to train enough of our own people to do those jobs.

Economic impacts aside, the huge rush of new people has created massive cultural changes to the fabric of our society – changes which not everyone wants but which no-one gets any choice in. And any attempt to address the housing crisis will inevitably lead to more pressure to build on green-belt land, which many environmentally-minded people are vehemently opposed to.

I don’t think anyone, on either side of the argument, disagrees that immigration is a good thing, the question though is whether it should be managed and controlled by the government, or whether it should be uncontrolled and left simply to the desire of whoever decides to turn up and live here. This, in my view is the defining issue of the Referendum, and also the most contentious one, with many people, unfortunately, being unable to distinguish between arguments about numbers and arguments about racism.

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George Osborne’s claim that every family will be £4,300 better off if stay, takes no account of disparities in how the wealth generated by EU membership is distributed. Picture © M. Holland

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: This ultimately is what will decide the referendum. Many figures and statistics have been bandied around, but they are all ultimately just averages, and mask the vast discrepancies in individual experiences of being in the EU.  George Osborne claimed that every family will be £4,300 better off if we stay, but even if that figure is true (debatable), it is only a statistical average, and hides the fact that while many people will indeed be tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds better off if we stay, many more others will in fact be thousands of pounds worse off.

In general, the wealthier you are the better the EU is – due to being able to take advantage of all that cheap labour; while the poorer you are the worse it is – due to having to compete with all that cheap labour. (It’s worth pointing out by the way that though being in the EU may indeed guarantee many jobs and low unemployment rates – many of those jobs are on poverty wages, not to mention the 800,000 people on zero-hours contracts). Home owners and landlords will do well – with ever-increasing property prices; while renters find themselves paying an ever-larger percentage of their income in rent. In addition people in very cosmopolitan, urban areas may have little problem with the cultural changes going on around them, and an ever more-crowded society; while people in more provincial, rural, or sparsely populated areas, may consider those changes to be unacceptable. And finally the pressure on public services will be more keenly felt by those who use them the most – whereas those whose children are in private schools, have private health-care, or who rarely use public transport will probably perceive little difference.

The decision about which way to vote in this referendum will be a very personal one, but hopefully people will be able to do so without being misled by all the misinformation coming out from both sides.

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4 thoughts on “The EU Referendum

  1. A reply to “Our Broken System” on the EU Referendum.

    Yes the decision is complex but I can’t let this post go by without countering some of your assertions. I’m not, and never have been, a Tory voter. I’m branch secretary of our local Labour Party, after joining two years ago. I wasn’t party political before then, but I was radicalised by the credit crunch and the banking crisis, and this much we share – I don’t believe that our government serves the interests of most of the people in this country. I also have 25 years’ experience working in industry, and an MBA from London Business School. Here are my views on your points:

    THE ECONOMY

    Will the economy crash if we leave the EU? Well I believe it will get worse, but it’s hard to say how much worse. The Tory Remain camp has done itself no favours by trying to put numbers on this i.e. “the value of your house will go down by 18%”. Whatever model they use, it can’t be that precise.

    There are various arrangements we could come to if we leave the EU – the Norway option, the Switzerland option, the Canada option. They will all take a long time to negotiate, leaving lots of uncertainty for many years. The first two (EEA and EFTA membership) will oblige us to continue to allow the free movement of people as one of the key “Four Freedoms” of the EU. Those versions will not be acceptable to a post-Brexit Tory government. Boris has said as much already; he wants out of the single market, leaving us free to negotiate our own terms with any other country. Just about all our trade terms with non-EU countries will also fall away as we have negotiated them as part of the EU. (That will itself have a cost – negotiating with 100 countries in the world will soak up the time of thousands of civil servants for the foreseeable future). So what we are left with is the WTO standard terms, which will include export tariffs on manufactured goods and services when we trade with other countries, both inside and outside of the EU. So, every car made by Nissan in Sunderland (and they export 80% of what they make there) will become more expensive for EU customers to buy. EU customers will by other makes, and Nissan’s production will have to fall, removing British jobs in an already depressed part of the UK. Nissan already has a factory in Spain. Next time it wants to build a new model, will it do so in the UK, where it’s goods are subject to tariff, or in Spain, where they are not? The UK will pretty much definitely retaliate by putting matching tariffs on our imports from other countries, so everything we buy in will become more expensive. I spoke to a florist the other day who buys flowers from the Netherlands. I spoke to a wine importer who buys wine from Spain. Who bears the cost of these import tariffs? Small businesses and consumers. There will be inflation and we will all be out of pocket. Those of us who lose our jobs, more so. You might say, ok , we will just have to generate more of what we need in the UK and be self-sufficient. But reduced competition leads to manufacturers who don’t have to try so hard – to go back to cars, how good were the Trabant and the Lada?

    “All economic forecasts rely on so many assumptions” but in this case there is an overwhelming consensus that the economy will be worse and not better. If this were not the case, why have countries spent so long trying to achieve tariff-free trade through the GATT and the WTO? Tariffs always harm economies, and we seem to be running towards them with open arms.

    DEMOCRACY.

    It is not true to say that legislation is driven by the EU Commission. The Commission is different from our own civil service. It’s more like the American system, where key roles like Secretary of State are appointments by the President, and are not necessarily elected people. But they don’t originate legislation. Their agenda is driven by the Council of Ministers, which consists of elected ministers from each national government. On behalf of the Council, the Commissioners propose a legislative timetable. Those proposals for each year go to national governments for scrutiny and amendment. The EU cannot adopt a new law unless:
    • National parliaments of all member countries have approved a legal basis for it to do so on each specific subject
    • A proposal has been sent to national parliaments enabling them to mandate their ministers
    • Ministers representing at least 65% of the population of the EU approve the proposal
    • It is also approved by a majority of directly elected MEPs
    Incidentally, MEPs interview and question the incoming candidates to the Commission and can reject it and ask the nominating countries to send them home and try again.

    I also think the current furore over the Referendum has given a wake-up call to the EU. Recently both Junker and Tusk have made comments about the EU meddling in things it shouldn’t, indicating that they are ready to consider reform. On the Left, the DiEM25 group is proposing a project called “Another Europe is Possible”. I believe that if we do Remain, relationships within the EU will change. Other countries (Netherlands, France, Sweden) are also talking about referenda in their countries and the EU is taking notice. Sadly, all these referenda are driven by immigration but we’ll get to that.
    Also if we are ever going to see action against multi-national companies who don’t pay their taxes, or against the rich elite who stash their money in tax havens, who is more likely to push that effort? A powerful bloc of European countries, or a right-wing neo-fascist UK government of Boris, Gove, IDS and Farage?

    WORKERS’ RIGHTS

    I don’t think this is the strongest argument in the Remain camp, but it is a good point. Many of the rights we have, both as workers and consumers, are through the EU. People say “Ah but the Equal Pay Act was brought in by the UK before we joined the EU”. It was – as a preparatory step. We wouldn’t have been allowed to join without it. Will they be eroded if we leave? We can’t say, but I don’t trust this Tory government to maintain the working time directive, for example. That’s a purely EU piece of law which could be repealed if we leave. Priti Patel has already spoken about Brexit being an opportunity to cut these rights and protections. In terms of serving the majority of the British people, here’s an instance where the EU is doing more for us than our national government.
    ENVIRONMENTAL LEGISLATION
    By arguing that the EU is not the whole world, you’re making the best the enemy of the good. Yes, the EU is only 28 countries but it is better than acting alone. As the world’s biggest trading bloc, the EU can also apply more pressure to other governments to comply with environmental legislation by making it a feature of our trade with other countries that they meet certain standards.

    EU GRANTS

    Our sources of funding will dry up if we leave the EU. 16% of our publicly funded science is covered by EU grants. We also get European Regional Development funding in the UK, where we have 9/10 of the poorest areas in northern Europe. It goes to a range of projects – arts centres, museums, universities. I have seen this myself in the North East. European funding tends to be progressive, going to areas of most need, rather than Tory government funding, which goes to areas of most votes. You might say that we will get that £160 million per week back if we leave the EU, but that’s all earmarked for the NHS, or the fisheries, or farm subsidies… in fact it has all been spent several times over already. And in the recession that Brexit will cause, we will probably need it to pay extra benefits to the increased number of the poor and unemployed.

    WAR AND CONFLICT

    We can’t know that the 70 years’ peace we have enjoyed since WW2 is due to the EU, but a place for ‘Jaw Jaw’ must have helped avoid the ‘War War’. In fact, we are in the longest period of peace since the Roman Empire; Europe has been one of the world’s most belligerent places for millennia. NATO is an organisation of last resort – if we do go to war, NATO will supervise it. You are right to say the EU has no military component – it is a forum for internal diplomacy within Europe. If it works well, we will not need to call upon NATO to settle disputes within Europe’s borders. As for Russia – well, Putin has commented that he thinks the UK should leave the EU – because he wants to see his enemies weaker. The UK, via its links with the Commonwealth and other English-speaking countries like the USA, strengthens Europe’s alliances abroad, and Putin does not like that. When I was young it was not even possible to visit a large part of our own continent. The EU has supported and democratised three former fascist dictatorships and ten former Communist countries and helped them to become stable economic partners in a peaceful Europe. That’s the true European project and it’s why we pay in to the EU’s coffers. I’m proud of that.

    TERRORISM / SECURITY

    The international arrest warrant and its requirements for rapid extradition are helpful in dealing with terrorism and crime, which like pollution and climate change, are no respecters of borders. Will we be in more danger of attack if we leave the EU? Probably not. Will we be hampered in collaboration on counter-terrorism and bringing criminals to justice? Probably yes. Because security matters are necessarily under wraps, it is hard to say, but in the current climate, why put barriers in the way of co-operation between countries, by leaving?

    WORLD / EU LEADERS

    Well, with your suspicious mindset, whatever these people say they can’t win, you will discount every expert there is, and so has Michael Gove, who thinks we are tired of listening to experts. I’d rather listen to the IMF, the Bank of England, Barack Obama, the OECD, 13 leading Nobel prizewinners, the CEOs of almost every large corporation that operates in the UK, elected heads of state, the TUC, and just about every serious economist, than the collection of non-serious and self-serving opportunists who are making the Brexit case. There is nothing that could make me prefer Boris, Gove, IDS and Farage to the sensible, human and wide-ranging collective of thoughtful people – some of whom have no axe to grind – who want us to stay part of an international project in a globalising world.

    MOVEMENT / MIGRATION

    You’ve left this until last and this is what it is all about. You cannot use rational arguments against irrational fears. Contrary to your assertion, lots of people disagree that immigration is a good thing. People are tribal primates, we don’t like change, our brains are wired to think of other members of our species as “them” or “us” and be hostile to the others. The whole of human conflict is in that sentence. But how do we reduce that immigration?

    First of all I would say when I’ve been out campaigning, the immigrants that people really want to stop are black and brown and mainly Muslims. That’s what this “take control of our borders” slogan is all about. Knowing that most of those are not coming to us from within the EU, and being reminded how Schengen works, they focus on Eastern Europeans as a proxy enemy. When they maintain these people are ‘not like us’ and are ‘changing our culture’ they don’t really mean it. As someone who is married to the son of two Irish immigrants I am sensitive to what they say, and what they don’t say. Of course, a decade or so ago we were worrying about the “demographic time bomb” – who would look after our elderly, and pay for our state pensions in a rapidly ageing society? The Eastern European immigrants have solved this problem but get no credit for it.

    This government has failed to provide the infrastructure that our new workforce needs. We have not invested in public housing since Thatcher, and we’ve encouraged bad private landlords to take up the slack in an economy where demand exceeds supply and rental prices have soared. If we don’t have enough school places for their kids, it’s because we are driving teachers out of their profession with SATs and bureaucracy and workload. If there are queues at A&E and no appointments at the GP surgery, it’s because we have failed to spend a decent proportion of our GDP on our NHS, and we’ve had a stupid spat with junior doctors that is incentivising thousands of them to apply to work abroad, or, like GP friends of mine, to work part-time because they can’t stand the stress any more. If we’ve allowed incoming workers to undercut the pay of British ones, it’s because our laissez-faire economy does not believe in setting standard pay rates for particular jobs, which happens in other countries and prevents this problem.

    It is our national government that has failed to plan and failed to maintain our public services. It is not the EU.

    As the Norway option and the Switzerland option won’t stop EU migrants coming here, we are driven to the tariff-laden WTO Brexit option as described above, and we have a stark choice – accept the immigrants or face a huge recession of our own making. A corollary is that many more menial jobs will go unfilled.

    PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

    I’ve worked all my life in an international business – new medicines development. I know for a fact that the London-based European Medicines Agency, which is based in London because of the UK’s acknowledged leadership in the field, will relocate abroad if we Brexit, taking 600 well-paid jobs away. Along with the EMA, dozens of European companies’ regulatory departments will go with it. That’s thousands of jobs in which this country excels and I am sad for my friends who will be affected. As somebody who now lives in the North East, where every new job is hailed with tears of joy, I’m waiting anxiously to see what Nissan, Hitachi and GSK will do with their investment plans.
    Yes, this will be a personal decision for each of us but the misinformation from both sides has not been equal. While the Tory Remainers may have been prone to exaggeration, and the Labour Remainers guilty of understatement, the Brexiters have been peddling out and out lies, from the £350 per week on the Boris battlebus to the wild claims that 78 million Turks will be in the EU by 2025 and marauding over our borders (with their implied filthy Islamic terrorist ways). I’d rather trust the worst of Gideon Osborne’s proclamations than anything from the Brexiteers’ dirty propaganda playbook.

    I really cannot see why this country is preparing to self-harm in all areas of the economy, after the tough times we’ve had since 2008. I’ve also got friends from all over the EU and a French sister in law. I want them to be happy and comfortable living in this country and some of them are already telling me they are not. I want Britain to be a full participant in the wider world, working within the greatest collaborative bloc of free and independent nations, to pursue common cause. I see no value in standing alone and isolated in a hostile world.

    1. Hi Judy,

      Thanks for your reply. In the interests of brevity hope you don’t mind if I use bullet points to respond.

      THE ECONOMY

      1. Trade with the rest of the EU – you fail to consider that as a net importer from the EU they have more to lose from tariffs than we do. You say the Swiss model can’t work as they are forced to accept free movement of people, but are you aware that in February 2014 the Swiss voted in a referendum to stop free movement from the EU? Legally this has to be implemented by February 2017, and the EU has been dragging its feet on the issue, terrified of the implications such a decision will have on the UK referendum. However it seems likely that the EU will be forced to accept that countries can have free trade without free movement, with profound implications for a post-Brexit UK. All your arguments about our trade with the EU are therefore based on – in my view – inaccurate assumptions.

      2. Trade with countries already trading with the EU. You assert all trade deals will need to be renegotiated. Why? Can’t the UK just continue using the same trade deals with those countries it already has such deals with via the EU. Then there needs to be barely any negotiation at all. That of course is an assumption on my part, but making assumptions seems to be the norm in this debate.

      3. You conveniently ignore all the countries with which we don’t have free trade deals via the EU, and with which we will now be able to negotiate.

      4. The overwhelming consensus you talk of may be overwhelming, but only because they are all based on the same assumptions. If those assumptions are inaccurate (as I believe they are) where does that leave those forecasts?

      DEMOCRACY

      1. Not quite – The European Council sets high level strategy (eg greater co-operation on security) but the actual implementation of policy and law is then driven by the unelected European Commission. The only time the European Council gets directly involved in law-making is when there is a crisis (eg migration, Cameron trying to negotiate a deal for the referendum). Consequently there is no point at which ordinary people get to vote on what policies the EU will be implementing – an EU Manifesto if you like. Your position on this is quite unusual actually, as most Remainers accept the EU is democratically dysfunctional – they just think we should stay in and try to reform it.

      2. You also talk of a ‘right-wing neo-fascist UK government of Boris, Gove, IDS and Farage’ trampling our rights. Really? How do you see Farage getting into government? And if we don’t like what the Tories do in the next 4 years, we do have a general election in 2020 don’t we? Many people on Remain seem to think that leaving the EU will turn the country into a Tory dictatorship, which is either a wilful misrepresentation of the facts, or a product of very depressed thinking.

      WORKERS RIGHTS

      Again you assume that the alternative to the EU is a Tory dictatorship.

      ENVIRONMENT

      I just think your argument there is very weak. International co-operation is needed here by all countries, no matter what trading blocs they’ve put themselves into.

      EU GRANTS

      I stand by my assertion that we are a net contributor to the EU, and therefore any such money could be paid directly by our govt with cash to spare; and as we are a democracy leaving the EU doesn’t mean we will then live in a Tory dictatorship.

      WAR AND CONFLICT

      I stand by my assertion that NATO more than the EU brings peace. The former communist states you mention joined the EU long after they had given up Communism and become democracies. ALL countries are on a path from dictatorship to democracy, barbarism to civilisation, regardless of whether they’re in the EU or not. And as for Putin, I’m sorry, I’m not basing my decision on whether to stay in the EU or not on anything he says.

      TERRORISM AND SECURITY

      I don’t believe that co-operation on these matters will be in the slightest bit affected by our membership of the EU.

      WORLD / EU LEADERS

      1. What makes you think I have a suspicious mindset? Of course World Leaders put their own countries first – that’s their job!

      2. I also think you’re losing focus here. You don’t want to be on the same side as Boris, Gove, IDS and Farage, but you’re happy to be on the same side as Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson, George Osborne and David Cameron?!! And you were radicalised by the credit crunch, but you’re now quoting the IMF, the Bank of England, and ‘the CEOs of almost every large corporation’. I’ll say no more.

      MOVEMENT / MIGRATION

      1. Sorry, but I’d prefer not to get into a line of debate that talks about the colour of people’s skin. This is about numbers.

      2. The demographic time bomb you refer to is completely unproven, and also countered by another argument which says that the advent of automation/robotics will make us all unemployed (personally I don’t agree with either of those lines of argument). In addition, with 1.6 million unemployed, we don’t need any outside labour at all at the moment, just a government with the political will to train our own people up in the right skills.

      3. The rest of your response to this section reads like a bit of an anti-Tory rant (I’m all in favour of anti-Tory rants by the way!) but doesn’t really address the real issues of the impact on our country of 330,000 net immigration every year (184,000 from the EU).

      PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

      I appreciate your very-valid personal view. But my experience is I’m afraid different, and we’ll have to agree to differ.

      Regards,

      Peter

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