The UK is only weeks away from a pretty historic vote regarding their membership in the European Union.
I see from the polling that the country is pretty evenly split between the 'stay' and 'leave' camps. There are still a large number of people who are classified as undecided, so this vote can essentially go either way.
I don't presume to have all the requisite knowledge regarding the particulars of what the ramifications of the UK leaving the EU might be; there is a tremendous amount of back and forth between both camps and both are utilizing scare tactics to drive their point home. Obama himself chimed in regarding his view that the UK should stay.
I know we have members on this forum that live in the UK and I am wondering what some of their views regarding this referendum might be.
Just to add some clarity to the discussion, I pieced together the following key items that are directly affected by this vote. Both sides have claimed pros and cons (from their point of view) regarding these items. But just to list them off as they are the key talking points in this discussion:
1. Membership Fee - Currently costs to be a member. There are some returns on this, but the UK pays more into the system than it gets out. Current cost savings of leaving are about £8.5bn.
2. Trade - More than 50% of UK trade is with the EU.
3. Investment - Both sides claim benefits in this regard. The 'stay' camp indicates that UK's role as an investment hub will be diminished while Brexit proponents indicate that free of EU regulations, they will be more competitive.
4. Immigration - Probably the most polarizing of the issues, but it is cited by both sides. Brexit supporters cite a lack of effective controls due to EU immigration laws usurping UK laws.
5. Jobs - Once again, both sides claim benefits of staying or leaving. Difficult to quantify this one.
6. Security - Clearly with the issues in the Eurozone and the recent attacks in Paris and Belgium, this issue is at the forefront of discussions.
On the money side, while it's true that Britain pays in more than it gets out (as do all of the wealthiest countries in the EU), it's important to remember that a lot of that money is going to fund economic development in the rest of the EU which, as you pointed out, are amongst our major trading partners. Also worth noting that the poorer parts of the UK also receive regional development funds - it's not all going to Eastern Europe.
One thing I have considered however, although this doesn't directly affect the UK since they are still on their own currency, is what is happening in the EU as a result of the common currency. You have countries like Germany that are thriving, with very low unemployment and strong economies, while you have countries like Greece and Spain which are essentially in depressions. The issue is there appears to be no way out of their death spiral. Because Greece and Spain are now dependent on EU loans, they are now in a state if indentured servitude. They cannot devalue their own currency to become competitive and as a consequence, they are now beholden to the other countries. I am honestly not certain how that may mitigate itself.
I'm really, really pissed off at our Prime Minister for allowing this vote, he nearly lost Scotland, now he's risking Europe. It's idiotic.
I have to admit, that is something that baffles me. The majority of the individuals who are pro-Brexit are from the conservative party. Why would Cameron (who is the conservative party leader) instantiate this vote? Did he grossly under-estimate the fact that the Brexit lobby and voter sentiment made this vote far closer than he thought? I don't really get the rational.
Incidentally, I actually think Obama made an error by making that pro-EU speech of his when he was in the UK. He ended up leveraging scare tactics regarding the economic consequences of leaving and I think that backfired. Many actually pointed out the irony of the President of the USA, a country founded on leaving the British Empire, chastising the UK for this vote.
By the way Tangle, you may have already seen it, but there is a Brexit movie floating around on Youtube. Link is here for anyone that might be interested:
Now this is clearly a propaganda piece pure and simple. But I have to admit, they did a good job of putting it together and it is troubling to see that there really isn't an effective 'counter piece' from the pro-EU folks.
My opinion from the outside is this: What the immigrant issue and the Greece bankruptcy issue has demonstrated to me is that the EU is more about corporate security and banker security than it is about people.
In other words corporate oligarchy over popular democracy in decision making.
I have to say I agree with this. And that is what is troubling. It seems to me that the politics of the EU causes a situation where the more economically powerful countries have clout over the ones less powerful. And as I mentioned in my earlier post, we now have a situation whereby certain countries are permanently stuck in an economic 'malaise' whereby they are beholden to the EU for loans whilst simultaneously not being able to make themselves competitive because they don't have currency controls.
Maybe I am too biased as a consequence of my Greek heritage and the fact that I have family that was affected very negatively by the austerity measures that were imposed. But my guess is the sentiment would be shared by those in Portugal and Spain.
I still think the idea of a united Europe is a good one. But I've always thought that it was a mistake to go to a common currency. The problems that you are seeing, such as the influence of the bankers, is because of that mistake.
Not that I am his biggest fan, but Alan Greenspan said exactly that. One of the side effects of moving to a common currency is inflationary pressures in the EU were not uniform. Depending on what currency was replaced, inflation moved at a more rapid pace in some countries versus others. Germany had lower inflation pressures because the deutsche mark was a more powerful currency relative to say, the Greek Drachma or the Spanish peseta.
One other issue in the EU is the manner in which regulations are being handled. Regulations exist the world over, but there are now many cases emerging in the EU where larger corporations are using stricter EU regulations to push out smaller businesses who have a more difficult time conforming to the broader laws. Now I am not anti-regulation by any stretch of the imagination, but at the same time, the way the laws and the influence exists in the EU, specific regulatory initiatives can be enacted that a larger corporation can easily absorb as part of their cost structure versus a smaller ma and pa outfit that runs on narrow margins.
National governments also regulate markets, however, so this is hardly a problem unique to the EU. The cross-border harmonisation of market standards does, however, make it much easier for said ma and pa outfit to branch out and open an second store across the border in Lille - something that was never a problem for the big company with a team of lawyers equipped to deal with 28 separate regulatory regimes.
Once again, it comes down to how the regulatory environment is influenced and how the regulations operate within the EU structure. One of the cases cited by Brexit proponents was a situation where a UK small business owner, a salmon smoker (note: someone who makes smoked salmon, not someone who rolls salmon doobies ) had to spend copious amounts of money on the packaging of his product to conform to the allergy regulations of the EU that require any fish product to be labelled as containing 'fish'. And even though his market was local, he still had to conform to this regulation, which cost him thousands of pounds per year in paper work and associated labeling costs.
Now granted this is likely an extreme case. If it even exists since the person citing this example was a staunch anti-EU individual. Nonetheless, as we have all realized in our own election cycle, once something is posited (build a UUGE wall for example), the counter-points to the argument are often lost or ineffectual.
If we leave, it's going to be interesting to see who gets blamed for all the inevitable 'straight bananas' and food labelling requirements that cost 'thousands.' It's useful to have scapegoats.
Generally speaking, fear-mongers don't think that far ahead. Consider Trump and his 'UUGE WALL' or all the talk of ending NAFTA. My guess is they could do both and neither would have any discernable effect on the job prospects of the middle class. Since what is REALLY happening is the big wigs at the top are shipping those jobs to cheap labor markets elsewhere.
what's left of it when Scotland demands to leave the UK over it
You bring up what I think is the most salient point in this discussion: if Brexit occurs, will that not embolden the nationalistic elements of Scotland to start work on another referendum?
As Ringo will attest, as can I as someone who grew up in Canada during all the Quebec separation talks, that can go on for a very long time.
And as you predicted Tangle, Scotland is already drafting plans for another referendum. Since their Brexit vote favored staying in the EU, this will be the perfect foil for the independence movement signaling that it is better that Scotland exist as a separate entity that can maintain stronger ties with the EU.
Northern Ireland also voted in favor of staying. I would not be surprised if there were some rumblings of a break-away vote for them as well.
The old and stupid outnumber the young and the clever - but idiot Cameron still asked them the question. What a total fucking dickhead.
This begs the question; and I don't know about the legality of this, but here goes: considering this is a referendum that will have long reaching ramifications, would it not have been prudent to say it requires a specific majority to pass? I understand that might seem like it is undermining democracy. But a 52% to 48% victory is hardly resounding. Could they have indicated that there would need to be a 60% requirement? Kind of like what we have in the USA with regards to amendments to the Constitution. Those require a 2/3rds majority.
Anyway, that may not have been viable given the circumstances. But as Tangle alluded to: considering its the old farts that are pushing for this while the younger crowd is against it, it seems warranted that a larger majority be needed to move forward.
Sort of interesting side effects - the French and Spanish stock markets have fallen much further than the UK's. Questions being raised about how strong the EU actually is.
The contagion from this vote could be very dire for the EU. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that other parts of the EU are now going to question whether it makes sense to stay.
Take Greece for example. They have had copious problems financially. And although they called a vote before to stay, that was prior to the migrant crisis. My guess is that pendulum could swing the other way now. Spain has strong nationalistic elements as does France.
The problem now is the world and European members in particular are seeing the EU as the Angela Merkel show. It's almost like Germany won WWIII without firing a shot. Granted, that is an exaggeration, but it is still a sentiment.
I have to say by the way, Jean-Claude Juncker looks and sounds like an old Nazi. He was about as useful as a hemorrhoid in the build up to this vote.