An opinion piece: On Thursday 23 June the UK voted to leave The European Union with a majority of 52% . This surprise result has stunned politicians, the UK population and many Europeans. The FOOTSIE ended the day down 3%. The DAX was down 7%. The £ took a bigger hit, down up to 8% that is good for exports and will help fend off deflation.
There has been much hand wringing as if the sky was about to fall in, while I believe this can be turned into a win-win situation for all Europeans. Failure to achieve this will only happen if the European Union and European Governments fail to grasp this great opportunity to create greater prosperity and harmony for all. But first a look at the circumstances leading up to this vote.
I have followed a lot of the commentary in recent weeks and there are certainly questions about the veracity of all the information made available upon which this vote was based. So before moving on to the very simple solution to this non-crisis, let me begin by taking a look at what lies behind the UK vote.
In the last two years I have been asked to vote on Scottish independence, the UK Westminster Parliament election, The Scottish Parliament Election and last week on Brexit. I have voter fatigue! And nothing ever seems to change after we have voted for Greenwashed, mealy mouthed, politically correct politicians of every colour trying to claim the centre ground. But make no mistake. With a very high turnout of 72% the Brits took the Brexit vote very seriously and exercised their democratic right to speak on this issue while they still had it. Shame on all those politicians and commentators who do not respect our courage to speak out. Any hint of retribution smacks of dictatorship.
I have four layers of government: 1) local Aberdeen Council, 2) Scottish Parliament, 3) Westminster Parliament and 4) European Parliament. This is two layers of government too many and the more layers you have the more dilute the powers become. I would estimate there is a correlation between power and IQ. I am unimpressed with the intellectual capacity of many of the politicians that are supposed to represent me. You just need to look at Scottish Labour, the former powerhouse in Scotland with names like John Smith and Donald Dewar. Political giants, great politicians of the recent past – and I am not a natural supporter of the left. But I respect those who fight for social justice. And compare that with what we have today. Not even a shadow.
I have a fairly clear idea of how Aberdeen Council, the Scottish Parliament and the Westminster Parliaments work. But after several weeks of campaigning I remain in the dark about how the European form of governance works. I know my local Councillor in Aberdeen and when I send him an email he always acts on my requests. I used to correspond infrequently with my previous Westminster MP Dame Anne Begg who would take issues I raised to the highest level in government. A lot of the time this did not produce a result but at least my voice was heard and recorded in the minutes. However, I do not know who my MEP is, what he or she does, or how the opaque European system works. The Commission, The Parliament, The Council of Ministers, The Court, The ECB and more than one president? What’s it all about? If the electorate does not understand how the system works then you have no chance of democracy
Leading up to the Brexit vote, a few extraordinary things happened. President Obama called by and told us that if we did not vote to remain that we would be at the back of the queue for negotiating a new trade deal with the USA. Wait a minute! The UK has for a long time been one of the USA’s closest friends. Why would a close friend seek to threaten us? Why should the UK ever need to negotiate a trade deal with the USA, the land of the free? I sincerely hope that next week Mr Trump stands up and puts Mr Obama in his place and reminds him what being a Democrat is all about! I also sincerely hope that Mrs Clinton stands up and assures the UK that we can be offered the most generous free trade deal ever struck with the USA. Threatening your best friend with retribution smacks of dictatorship. Brits don’t like being told what to do.
And a couple of weeks before the vote an announcement was made about the formation of a European army. What’s going on with the madmen in Bruxelles? Who has created this idea? Where does the idea come from? And who decides to float this insanity a couple of weeks before one of the most important votes in EU history? I don’t know the answer to any of these questions. But what I do know is that the UK would never sign up to any of it. So what do we have? A German – France (Vichy / Napoleonic?) axis coercing other countries to join the venture or face expulsion from the European Union? Who is the European army going to fight? Perhaps Britain? And then we’ll find out where US loyalty really lies.
NATO is the successful organisation that has guaranteed European security since WWII. The boundaries of NATO should never have been broadened since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
So after that short preamble we get to the question of how to solve the Brexit crisis. The first question has to be why this should be a crisis at all? It obviously sticks a spanner in the works of plans to form a Federal European superstate. But whose plan is that? Where are the seeds of that plan and why is it being driven forward?
The markets tanked on Friday on the back of the British people exercising their democratic right in the face of adversity. Why?
The UK I’m sure would welcome proposals from Europe for a no strings attached trade deal with The Union as it exists today. If there is any common sense leadership in Europe, this deal should be offered this week. The UK should not even need to ask for it. The EU should take the initiative and offer it. Appeasement not punishment. That immediately allays economic fears and allows market normalisation. And it allows European industry to get on with the business of production, employment and wealth creation as opposed to years of adjusting to untangling the impossibly complex regime of international bureaucratic entanglement that currently exists.
Beyond that I believe the UK should offer to continue with the free movement of people within the EU+ zone. Do the Portuguese and Spanish really want to restrict the movement of Brits heading for the Sun? And does the UK really want to end the movement of East Europeans to the UK where they currently appear to form the backbone of staff in bars, restaurants and fruit picking farms. The age demographic of the UK is working against the pension system. We either accept more immigration or decide to work until we are 75+. But of course an independent UK could control this.
I also recognise that the EU has been a force for good by channeling small amounts of GDP from wealthy to poor Mediterranean and East European countries. I’d strongly support the UK continuing to do this. But this can be done through our existing foreign aid programs.
So what is in Brexit for Europe? Those European countries that want to forge a European super-state led by Germany will be free to do so unfettered by UK reticence. Those that want to be part of a free trade area should be encouraged to join the UK in an official two speed Europe with clear lines drawn between economic cooperation (trade and population movement) and political union that includes currency, foreign policy, defence and interference on the internal workings of existing nation states.
I want to conclude by repeating what I have said a number of times in this post. Those politicians and commentators who sought to influence this Brexit vote via fear of retribution should we not vote the right way ought to be cast out. The list includes Obama, George Osborne and one of the faceless and nameless presidents of the EU.
We will not be ruled by fear of reprisal.