Remain

I am voting Remain on Thursday. I suggest that you do so to.

Oh, you’re still here? 

Well, it’s probably best that I explain that a little. It makes for a short blog post otherwise. I’ve struggled to articulate my thoughts on the EU over the past few weeks and months. I was even asked about the vote a few weeks back in a semi-conversational way with a group of younger engineers, one of which who would be voting for the first time. I struggled to think about why I was voting remain, so I decided that I would figure it out and then write a blog post about it. It has taken two weeks to formalise these thoughts, and in that time I’ve seen friends all declare for remain, an MP killed in the street in her constituency, and almost all of the biggest economic advisors in the world all declare that leaving would be terrible. Any benefit on funding from a day to day payment would be cancelled out by the drop in GDP and income from leaving.

As someone who was on the Yes side of the IndyRef all that might sound insane – those same people were explaining that an independent Scotland would have the same cataclysm. There is a strong difference; and that is that the UK is a definite net benefactor of the EU. The arguments for leave are weak and poor, but there was more of a positive case made for the IndyRef – at least, in my mind. I’m not an ideological idiot, and I weighed up the facts and made my decision on that. The same has been here. The two positions are not opposed – the rule of Westminster in Scotland is different to the EU in Brussels, and if you don’t see that, we might need another blog post about it.

The EU is one of the greatest international clubs out there. Born from a continent that had ripped its self apart twice in 30 years only two decades since those horrifying times, it has grown into a powerful trading partner, do-er of good, and a very impressive system for getting rights and regulations into law across the disparate nations of a massive continent of millions of people. It’s a testament to pioneers and powerful people trying to do good. Leaving is a one way ticket out of one of the best trading areas in the world. I’m not an economist, but the idea that we could leave and negotiate new rules with everyone we trade with, especially after leaving, is pretty difficult to comprehend. We would likely have no power either; we trade with countries the fact that they get access to the free market area, so getting rid of that is not going to make us stronger.

Michael Gove yesterday plainly said he believes that giving up the stake we have in the EU makes us stronger outside of it, which is some strange rhetoric. It makes no logical sense. Here’s the thing; we want to be part of the Economic Area, but not the EU – an arrangement that Norway has, and they don’t like. They pay the same fees to be part of the EU but don’t get any power within it. No voting rights. All regulations imposed. And to think that the EU would let us trade with them is pretty ridiculous. In an additional twist, our “British” companies trade with the EU. Getting rid of the EU membership wouldn’t suddenly mean that our companies get to make things the way that they want – to sell those things in the EU they’d still have to comply with this regulations. Same with the people who are control of the money – they will still be in control if we leave the EU. What control are we taking back? The control to be a part of the biggest trading partner as a member, not someone who has to comply anyway? That doesn’t sound like the kind of control that we need.

But as I said, I am not a person with experience of the economy. I am, however, married to an immigrant.

Yep, Connie’s an immigrant. I remember a conversation with a friend about this, and he was genuinely surprised to frame Connie in that way, because of how dirty and laced with delirious anger the word has become. To compound this, she is also an immigrant from outside the EU. A few weeks ago, James Dyson said that leaving the EU would help us recruit engineers from abroad. I’m not sure how; he can recruit anyone from inside the EU without any issues, and the rules for international immigrants are not controlled by the EU at all. Connie had to pass three separate application processes to get residency here, at a total cost of around £4k, and still isn’t a citizen – and that’s only because I earn enough to “cover” her and we have the privilege of being able to pay for the applications. The truth of the matter is that “outside-EU” migration is not affected by the EU, obviously, as it is our Home Office imposed these rules entirely. It’s either one way or the other – either too many people are coming in, or we can’t attract the right engineers in the first place. It can’t be both. The government propsed to drop the total migration numbers to lower than 100’000 a year. Leaving the EU won’t change the fact that this is an impossible target – we have more than 100’000 “outside-EU” migrants each year. So blocking the EU residents from coming here won’t change the fact that we still have “too many” people coming in – and I don’t even think we do. What are we going to do, bar all eastern Europeans, and then have no one to do the jobs that the British people don’t want to work anyway? It is a logical fallacy.

As a Scot I see myself in a different way to many English people though; the quantum state of nationality is different for us -  we are all Scottish, British and European, all at once. The English equate themselves with Britishness, which is fine. But that is at odds with being also European, which is a distasteful thing to many. Either way, maybe the UK just isn’t mean to agree on this. This is why Direct Democracy on such a complicated matter shouldn’t have gone to a referendum. The self-determination of the Scottish people makes sense, but the idea that the punter on the street can understand the far-ranging complexity of the most complicated trade and economic area’s union is beyond belief. We shouldn’t be making this decision, and we certainly shouldn’t have been even promised such a referendum – this will go down in history as one of the most ill-thought political gambles of any PM’s tenure.

There is however a strange upside to all this, no matter what the result, for me and to many. The Tories are tearing themselves apart, through lying and deceit and outright insults in the public domain – expect by-elections, heads rolling, and resignations no matter who wins, which means those of us who didn’t vote Tory should be quite happy with that. If we vote Remain the Tory party will be open revolt. If we vote out… well, imagine if we did. David Cameron’s tenure will likely be at the end. Scotland is almost certain to vote Remain, as is Northern Ireland (a wrinkle that I’ve not touched on, but the fact that the border and the Troubles haven’t been a big part of the debate has been a serious deficiency, and one I have little experience to talk about), and Wales is less a certainty… so that leads us down the path of a broken UK, one where parts want to remain part of the EU. Don’t think that a Leave referendum will suddenly be the end of it, it will likely just be the start.

I’m voting Remain because I value the EU too much.