I Voted #Remain

Thames

If anyone is curious, I voted for the UK to stay in the EU. My dad voted as my proxy, in Camden.

I haven’t written about the referendum here only because I don’t feel very well informed, but overall, it seems pretty clear (to me) that leaving is a jump in the dark, with low upside and high downside.

I have sympathy with the desire to get free of the ruling bodies of the EU. What Germany is doing to Greece, in the belief that it is imposing a kind of moral responsibility on the people of that country, is appaling, and will force Greece to suffer for generations: Kevin Drum calls it “45 years of projected misery.”

Paul Krugman agrees that “…the EU is so dysfunctional, and seems utterly resistant to improvement.”

And it’s even possible that a reduction in London’s role as financial capital of Europe could be healthy for the city. It’s possible.

But the trouble is that the politicians in the leave campaign agree with Germany. They believe in the same awful morality plays. Leaving seems very unlikely to bring about a kinder, fairer, more decent British society. Indeed, it is much more probable that it will cause great suffering to many people in the UK, harm the economy’s future growth, and empower the very right wing forces that want to make things worse for the workers and the middle class.

So I hope that the country votes to remain.

As the Irish writer, Fintan O’Toole says,

… the handover of elite power that will accompany this particular national revolution will surely be the most underwhelming in history — from one set of public school and Oxbridge Tories to another.

PS O’Toole’s entire essay is worth reading:

Brexit is being driven by English nationalism. And it will end in self-rule

When you strip away the rhetoric, Brexit is an English nationalist movement. If the Leave side wins the referendum, it will almost certainly be without a majority in either Scotland or Northern Ireland and perhaps without winning Wales either. The passion that animates it is English self-assertion. And the inexorable logic of Brexit is the logic of English nationalism: the birth of a new nation state bounded by the Channel and the Tweed.

Over time, the main political entity most likely to emerge from Brexit is not a Britain with its greatness restored or a sweetly reunited kingdom. It is a standalone England. Scotland will have a second referendum on independence, this time with the lure of staying in the European Union. Northern Ireland will be in a horrendous bind, cut off from the rest of the island by a European border and with the UK melting around it. Its future as an unwanted appendage of a shrunken Britain is unsustainable. Wales is more uncertain, but a resurgence of Welsh nationalism after Brexit is entirely possible, especially after a Scottish departure from the UK. After Brexit, an independent England will emerge by default.

And this is of course a perfectly legitimate aspiration. Nationalism, whether we like it or not, is almost universal and the English have as much right to it as anyone else. There’s nothing inherently absurd about the notion of England as an independent nation state. It’s just that if you’re going to create a new nation state, you ought to be talking about it, arguing for it, thinking it through. And this isn’t happening. England seems to be muddling its way towards a very peculiar event: accidental independence.

Read the whole article at The Guardian

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