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Brexit - the people and arguments
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Brexit in or out ?
The people and the arguments

After two and a half years of chaos and acrimony in Government, Parliament and among the people, the Brexit process is coming painfully to an end. But will Brexit now happen, or not? And if it does happen, what form will it take. As of 24th March 2019, nothing, absolutely nothing, is certain.

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Update 14th May 2019

Brexit and EU parliamentary elections

Since Brexit is postponed, and the UK is still in the European Union, elections to the European parliament will take place on 23rd May in Britain.  While pro-Brexit voters seem to be uniting behind a single pro-Brexit party, the new Brexit Party founded by arch-Brexiteer Nigel Farage, anti-Brexit voters remain divided between the clearly anti-Brexit Liberal Democrat party, the Greens and a new party called ChangeUK.... not to mention those who are loyal Conservative or Labour voters.
   Both the Conservatives and Labour are divided over Brexit. The Conservatives are officially in support of Brexit, though many of their MPs and voters are against it. The Labour Party is officially neither for Brexit nor against it, even though most polls show that a large majority of party members are against Brexit.
  Farage's new party is expected to "win" the EU elections, as the anti-Brexit vote will be critically divided unless there is a last-minute move towards tactical voting in favour of the largest anti-Brexit party, the Lib Dems.

As for the arguments for or against Brexit, they have not changed.

Update 24th March 2019

The people fight back

Marching against Brexit 23.03.2019
The people's march against Brexit, 23 March 2019
On Saturday 23rd March a Million people took to the streets of London to demand a second referendum on Brexit. All the signs are now that a new referendum, giving people the choice between some kind of Brexit and the option to remain in the EU, would lead to a clear majority in favour of "remain".
  Close to 5 million people have now signed a petition to Parliament, calling for Brexit to be stopped, and the signatures are still coming in thick and fast. The petition may well reach seven or eight million signatures in the days to come, and even if Theresa May continues to insist that Brexit is "the will of the people", less and less Members of Parliament now agree with her.
   It is very clear - and opinion polls have demonstrated this for some time - that the mood in Britain has now swung clearly against Brexit. A government that now goes ahead and goes through with Brexit will clearly be taking the UK out of the EU against the will of the people, and most decision-makers now recognise this.
   Of course, Brexit still has its vocal supporters, but they are now largely limited to the remnants of the right-wing UKIP (UK Independence) party, the sovereignist and neo-conservative wing of the Conservative party, and a part of the far left; and of those who are still seduced by their populist arguments.  
   Many others, even within the Conservative Party, are now fighting to get Brexit stopped. Former Attorney General (chief government legal adviser)  Dominic Grieve,  a Conservative MP, recently stood up in the House of Commons and said he was ashamed to be a Conservative. And Max Hastings, former editor of the pro-Brexit and very conservative paper the Daily Telegraph, has just written a major opinion piece for the Times newspaper - the paper of the Establishment - condemning the "siren songs" of the "snake-oil salesmen " politicians who have duped a part of the population into imagining that Brexit could be a good thing.
   The Brexit saga  will soon reach its climax. Nothing can yet be ruled out, but the feeling is growing in the media and in Britain that Brexit may, in the end, not actually happen.

Update 13th March 2019

The end of Brexit ?

Yesterday the British Parliament overwhelmingly rejected the renewed "Deal" that had been agreed between the UK and the EU concerning Britain's departure from the Union.
  With less than three weeks left before the planned date of the UK's departure from the EU, three realistic scenarios remain possible. Today the House of commons will vote on one of them - whether to allow the UK to leave the EU without any deal, the much-feared "no deal scenario" that is likely to cause immense damage to the British economy. Parliament is likely to vote to stop the Government taking the UK out of Europe without a deal.

  With Theresa May's deal rejected, and no-deal rejected, that leaves two remaining options. One is for the UK to ask the EU for an extension of the Article 50 deadline of 29th March.
   The other is for the government to simply revoke Article 50, effectively cancelling Brexit at the last minute.

    Both options are likely to lead to Brexit being cancelled.
     Revoking Article 50 - the only option remaining if there is an impasse between the EU and the UK over extending the Article 50 deadline - can be done unilaterally by the UK.
    Extending the Brexit deadline "for further discussions" can only lead to more of the same confusion that has characterised the Brexit processs for the past two years. Besides, the EU has said that the discussions are now over.
    Extending the Brexit deadline in order to call a second referendum, the much demanded "People's vote" is a more likely scenario.  It is also very likely to lead to Brexit being cancelled, as opinion polls now show that a clear manority of British voters want the UK to remain in the EU.

   It is increasingly clear that Brexit is not the favoured option of the British population at this moment in time. The argument that Brexit must be enacted to respect the "democratic vote" of the people (some two and a half years ago) no longer holds much water. The question is will Theresa May have the courage to admit this and revoke Article 50 "in the name of democracy and the national interest", or will she put the decision back to the people ?
   Or will the coming three weeks see so much confusion that on 29th March Britain falls out of the EU by accident, and against the will of Parliament and of the people ? This remains a possibility, but given the risks that that would involve, for the UK and for the EU, this outcome has to be considered as very unlikely.

  Update 25th January 2019

An unimaginable development - the Queen speaks out.

Though she carefully avoided mentioning Brexit or taking sides, the Queen has done something that the British monarch is not supposed to do, and stepped into the Brexit debate.
  In a message clearly addressed to the people and to parliament, the Queen asked Britons to come together and find "common ground" – a thinly veiled critique of the current national meltdown over Brexit.
  For the past ten days, the national mood over Brexit has swung from argumentative to overtly hostile, as Theresa May pushes forward relentlessly with a determination to get her "deal" accepted – even though Parliament rejected it by a massive majority last week.
   There is growing hostility from the British public against Theresa May, for her intransigence, but also against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for his refusal to come off the fence and swing the Labour opposition clearly behind calls for a new referendum, if not calls to abandon Brexit.
   Latest opinion polls all show that in the event of a new Referendum, British voters would now clearly reject Brexit and demand to stay in the European Union. Some polls put the lead for remaining in the EU as high as 12%. A majority of Members of Parliament would also seem to be in favour of remaining in the EU.
   Meanwhile the government shows no sign of taking account of the current public mood. Instead Theresa May adamantly refuses to rule out the "no deal" scenario, which would see the UK crashing out of the European Union with no new arrangements in place.
   "No deal" - i.e. a total rupture with the EU -  is the solution long dreamed of by the sovereignist and populist neo-liberal wing of the Conservative party, the ERG, whose nuisance-value within the wider Conservative party was the main reason that David Cameron called the fatal 2016 referendum in the first place. Today, the ERG and supporters, aided and abetted by a small number on the far left, continue to push for the hard Brexit that - according to latest opinion polls - 80% of the British population are against.
   However unpopular it is, and however damaging it will be for the British economy, Theresa May has so far refused to rule out "no deal", and it is this refusal that is fuelling the incredulity and alarm in the UK right now.
   As of this week, it seems possible that the British Government will drag the country into a Brexit No-deal that neither the British people nor British business leaders, nor the British Parliament want. Under such circumstances, it is hardly surprising that tensions are mounting.
   For several months, as the reality of Brexit has slowly become clearer, hard-line Brexiteers and their supporters have been using words like "violence" and "civil disorder" to describe what might happen if Brexit were delayed or cancelled. Even MPs have used the terms. Yet now the roles are reversed, and the risk of civil disorder from some of those hostile to Brexit, notably the young, cannot be ruled out if the Government, while talking of the "democratic vote" of the 2016 referendum, goes ahead with a No-deal Brexit that a large majority of the population do not want.
   For the time being, no scenarios can be ruled out, including serious civil strife once a solution to the Brexit problem is agreed on; and that is true whatever the outcome, No deal,  weak Brexit, or no Brexit at all – since there is no outcome to this very sad story that will not be hotly contested by some of those who do not like it.
   The United Kingdom stands at one of the gravest moments in its history since the 1930s.
   Under these circumstances, the Queen was right to speak out.

  Update 15th January 2019

To Brexit or not to Brexit? That is the question.

Ever since the result of Britain's 2016 Brexit referendum was announced, has insisted that Brexit would quite possibly - even probably - not take place. 
   Nothing that has happened since then has changed our point of view.
   Today Britain's MPs will vote whether or not to accept the "Deal" that Mrs. May has negotiated with Brussels, concerning the terms of the UK's exit from the European Union.  All observers agree that the House of Commons will reject this deal.
   So what next ?
   There are a number of possible options, among which one has seen massively growing support in public opinion in the UK in recent weeks. There must be a second referedum, a "people's vote" to confirm or reject Britain's departure from the EU, now that the terms have been established and the implications have been extensively argued throughout the country.
   Mrs. May has persistently said that she will not call a second referendum.  But she said firmly that she would not call a general election in 2017, and then did just that.
   The one big question that remains is : if there is a second referendum, what will the question be ?
   It now seems inconceivable that the option to remain in the EU could not be one of the options.  A YouGov opinion poll carried out in December showed that  59% of British voters now want to remain in the EU, compared to just 41% who want to leave the EU.... a huge margin of 18%.
   So the options are : either a choice between "stay in the EU" and "Accept Mrs. May's Deal"
      or: "Stay in the EU" and "Leave the EU with no deal".
All recent opinion polls have shown that "Stay in the EU" would win easily in either scenario.

   Calling a second referendum is not the only possibly way forwards out of the current mess. It is however the only one that would give power back to the people. If the Government or Parliament decided to abandon Brexit without calling a second referendum, there would be vociferous and maybe violent reaction from pro-Brexit hard-liners, claiming that the Government or Parliament is going against the"will of the people" as expressed in 2016.
   There could be another General Election, after which anything could happen. The Conservatives do not want another General Election, as they could well lose power; but in spite of their unpopularity, even that is by no means certain.
   Although Mrs. May's government is deeply unpopular, and blamed for the current state of deep divisions in British society, the Labour Party is not faring any better. Most Labour supporters want to stop Brexit, but Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, thinks he can get a better Brexit deal ... which seems improbable. It is by no means clear - in the present state of affairs - which party would win an election if one were held in 2019.
   Alternatively, the Government or Parliament could vote to postpone Brexit, to rescind Article 50, and remain in the EU "for the time being". That however would only prolong the arguments and the divisions, as well as giving ammunition to Brexiteers who would clamour endlessly about how  "democracy" had been thwarted by the Government or Parliament going against the "will of the people".
   The Brexit saga may be nearing its ending. It is not there yet.... not even if Britain does exit the EU on March 29th.

Update 21st December 2018

Brexit and democracy

British Prime minister Theresa May keeps repeating that there will be no second referendum. A second referendum would be a "betrayal of democracy", she says.  The British people have voted for Brexit, so it must now go ahead.
  However democracy is not a static moment: it allows  people to change their minds, and Theresa May has in the past been quite happy to ask people to change their minds when she thought it would be to her advantage.
  She did not say it was "undemocratic" to give British voters the opportunity to change their minds when she called an unnecessary general election in 2017, just two years after the previous general election in 2015.

 It is time now to let British voters or at least the Briish Parliament vote again on Brexit, with the option to cancel it; becuse when it comes to Brexit,  a lot of British voters have changed their minds. And a majority of British voters now want a second referendum.
  All the economic evidence shows that even a mild form of Brexit will damage the UK's economy and its status in the world. And a "no-deal" Brexit will be a seismic disaster.
   At last public opinion in Britain has begun to understand this. A YouGov poll conducted in Mid December suggested that if there is a second referendum, Britons will now vote by a large majority to remain in the EU ( 59% remain, 41 % Leave, excluding undecided voters).
  If the British government still takes the UK into Brexit without giving Parliament or the people an opportunity to stop the madness before it is too late, that will be a betrayal of democracy, and will cause turmoil in Britain for many years to come.

Update 11th December 2018

Parliament's Brexit vote postponed....
The House of Commons should have voted today to accept or reject Theresa May's Brexit deal. But yesterday, the Prime Minister announced that the vote will not take place. Not yet, at least.
  Mrs. May will now have even more conversations with the EU, to try and get some changes to the deal that has taken over two years to negotiate; but it is unlikely that she will get any significant changes. The EU has said that the deal cannot be renegotiated.
  So what happens now ?  
  Noone knows.
  It seems increasingly probable that the only way to end this shambolic process will be through a second referendum, a "People's vote". It was a referendum that put Britain into this chaotic situation; so logically it is only a second referendum that can logically overturn the result - or confirm the result - of the first one.
  MPs of all parties are now calling for a new referendum.  Mrs. May is still insisting that there will be no second referendum; but she also insisted, until yesterday, that there would be a vote in Parliament today. Just like she insisted that she would not call a General Election in 2017..  until she called one.
  A second referendum looks like being the only relatively safe solution for Mrs. May and her government. She will have to do something fairly soon. She cannot risk calling a new General Election, as all the signs are that Labour would win. 
   Opinion polls show that in the event of a new referendum, the British people will probably overturn the result of the 2016 referendum, and do so by a clear margin.
   As far back as September, a poll carried out by NatCen showed that  59 per cent of British voters would now vote to remain in the EU, against 41 who still want to leave the EU.

Brexit deal agreed ???   Yes, BUT.....
A Brexit deal between Britain and the European Union has been agreed.... At last.
That was the easiest part of the Brexit process.
Now Theresa May has to get this deal approved by : a) her government, b) her party, c) Parliament, d) the British public.  And the European Union has to get the deal approved by the 27 governments of the 27 member states.

So a deal may have been reached, but it is certainly a very long way from being ratified.
In fact, the likelihood of it being ratified and accepted in its current state by all the parties concerned is zero or nil.

So today marks the beginning of the end of the Brexit process, and the endgame could still take a very long time. And indeed, Brexit may still be cancelled, as there are very few people in Britain who think that Theresa May's deal is a good deal.
   The deal that Theresa May has reach with Brussels Brexit is seen as a betrayal by hard-line Brexiteers, and seen as a futile result by those who voted against Brexit. Opinion polls now suggest that if there were to be a new refendum now, British voters would vote to remain in the EU. Theresa May is obviously aware of this, so will she carry on regardless, and deliver a sort of rather pointless "BRINO" (Brexit In Name Only) ? Or will she call the whole thing off?  For more details and analysis see Brexit timeline and Can Brexit be cancelled ?
 ► General Election 2017 and its consequences
In 2017, British Prime Minister Theresa May called an un-necessary general election, with the aim of increasing her majority in the British Parliament. Once again, just as in the Brexit referendum in 2016, British voters did not do as they were expected to do. Instead of getting an increased majority in Parliament, Theresa May lost the small absolute majority she had until then, and is now governing in a partnership (not a coalition) with the right-wing Northern-Irish Protestant party, the Democratic Unionist Party.    Details and analysis   British general election 2017
   As she now leads Britain towards Brexit, Mrs. May  can no longer rely on Parliament to approve every move. Indeed, in December, with the help of anti-Brexit members of Theresa May's own party, the House of Commons voted in favour of a new measure to prevent the government signing off a final Brexit deal with the EU unless the deal has already been scrutinised and approved by Parliament.

Britain is now on the road to Brexit. Theresa May enacted Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on 29 March 2017, taking Britain down a perillous path towards a "global Britain" outside the EU. If all goes according to schedule, the UK will cease to be a mamber of the European Union on 29th March 2019. But that is a very big IF ...

There is a small chance that all will turn out well in the end for Britain; but the chances are that it will not... which is one of the reasons that Theresa May called a General Election before the start of negotiations, before the true consequences of Brexit begin to become clear. Britain could well be on the way to the most devastating act of national self-harm in the last thousand years.
 Or maybe Brexit will not happen after all... It remains a possibility.  

The short synthesis of who's who, and the main pros and cons for staying or leaving, was written before the referendum. The arguments are still valid.

 Why is the British NHS (National Health Service) under pressure?

The NHS has featured prominently in the Brexit debate; sadly, the facts and figures quoted have often been misleading. A reality check shows that the problems with the NHS are British problems, and nothing to do with the EU. Other major EU countries have better funded and staffed heath services than the UK does. Most recent figures available from the World Bank.
Belgium Germany France UK
Health Spending as share of GDP 10.6% 11.3% 11.5% 9.1%
Number of GPs for 1000 population 4.9 3.9 3.2 2.8
Hospital beds per 1000 population 6.5 8.2 6.4 2.9
Nurses and midwives per 1000 population 16.8 11.5 9.3 8.8
The NHS is overstretched NOT because of pressure from EU migrants, but because our sovereign governments choose to spend less  on it than others ; we have less GPs,  less hospital beds, and less nurses and midwives per population than other major EU countries. Even Italy and Portugal pay a higher share of their GDP on their health services than the UK does. No wonder the NHS is overstretched. And this is a 100% sovereign situation.
   For several years now, the UK media have highlighted the massive problem of the lack of hospital beds in the UK, with the sick and the injured waiting for hours on stretchers in hospital corridors until a bed becomes available. Noone who takes the trouble to check out the figures will be surprised that people have to wait in hospital corridors until a bed is available. Relative to its population, the UK has less than half  the number of hospital beds of France, Germany or Belgium.
   Europe is not part of the problem of the NHS; by helping provide the health professionals we do not have enough of, it is part of the solution.

And on a lighter tone, here's a video on YouTube that says it all.... Hilarious and serious. Pity a few more people in Britain didn't watch it !!

REMAIN - Britain should remain in the EU

LEAVE - Britain should leave the EU

The parties (official or majority position before the referendum)

The Conservative Party, the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrat Party, the Scottish Nationalist Party, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party UKIP (UK independence party), the BNP (British National Party), the EDL (English Defence League), the DUP (Democratic Unionists, Ulster), Respect

A few people and personalities...  Who are you with?

Politicians: David Cameron, Jo Cox MP,  Jeremy Corbyn, George Osborne, all living former Prime Ministers,
Personalities:  Bob Geldof, Benedict Cumberbatch, J.K.Rowling, Elton John, Jeremy Clarkson, David Beckham, Victoria Beckham, Simon Cowell, Bear Grylls, John Le Carré, Daniel Craig, Jamie Oliver
Scientists and businessmen: Stephen Hawking ,thirteen UK Nobel-prizewinners, Richard Branson, Alan Sugar, Mark Carney,
And outside the UK
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Angela Merckel

Post-referendum update:
Kelvin MacKenzie - columnist and former editor of the Sun newspaper, regrets having encouraged people to vote Leave.
Politicians:  Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, Nigel Lawson, George Galloway, Michael Gove, John Redwood, Lord Owen,
Personalities:  Ian Botham, Joey Essex,  Katie Hopkins,  Elizabeth Hurley, Joan Collins, Michael Caine
Scientists and Businessmen: Richard Desmond, James Dyson
And outside the UK

Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, French National Front's Marine Le Pen1

Post-referendum update:
Since the autumn, most Conservative MPs and many Labour MPs, starting with Prime Minister Theresa May, have suffered from chronic amnesia, and voted in favour of triggering Article 50... forgetting that they campaigned against Brexit in the referendum campaign nine months earlier.

Voter groups according to opinion poll surveys : majority voting intentions. 2

Young voters (under 30): 63%
Voters aged 30-39 : 58%
Voters aged 40-49 : 52%
University graduates: 62%
Those with A levels or equivalent:  53%
University students: over 75%
Older voters (over 60): 56%
Voters 50-59: 52%
Voters with no qualification higher than GCSE:  57%

The arguments:

How other nations will see Britain if we leave Europe

How do you want other nations of Europe to consider Britain after June 23rd? As a reliable partner, or as the one that walked away?
   If Britain leaves the EU, we will lose a massive amount of goodwill from people elsewhere in Europe. As well as damaging the UK's own economy, a vote for  Brexit is likely to set off a domino effect that damages economies throughout Europe. When this happens, angry fingers will be pointed at Britain, as the nation that deliberately wrecked the EU. And we'll have to live with it for at least two generations to come.
   It is pure fantasy to suggest that other countries of Europe will continue to look up to the  UK as, in many respects, they do now. They will not. Britain will be isolated, shunned, as the country that turned its back on the rest of Europe.
Other governments of Europe will not be happy with Brexit; but a British Brexit will actually be a salutary event for Europe, and even if it does cause an initial recession in Europe, it will not take long for other countries to appreciate that Britain was actually the first country to "liberate" itself from the burden of the European Union.
   Britain will once again be seen as the country that saves Europe, as we  did by our action in two world wars.  Nationalist parties in other countries of Europe will follow Britain and reclaim their sovereignty; eventually there will be no more European Union.


Leaving the European Union would allow us to choose our own immigration policy; that is true; but it is not going to stop immigration. Asked by the BBC if the Leave campaign's "chosen immigration" policy would actually guarantee to cut the number of immigrants, Boris Johnson carefully avoided answering the question.
   Then on 19th June, he said; " I am pro-immigration, my friends. I am the proud descendent of Turkish immigrants. And let me stun you, perhaps, by saying I would go further. I am not only pro-immigration, I’m pro-immigrants".  And these words from the leader of the "Leave" campaign that has suggesting that it would drastically reduce immigration to the UK.
  The fact is that if the British economy is to prosper, it cannot do so without recruiting large numbers of skilled and unskilled workers from other countries. If they don't come from our own continent, Europe, they will have to come from other continents.
    In no way will leaving the EU stop immigration to the UK.
    EU immigration is a great asset to the UK economy, and people from EU countries pay a lot more in taxes than they receive as benefits.
    Immigration is always an emotive issue that appeals to people's sense of nationalism. It is easy, and sometimes satisfying,  to blame others for our perceived ills. Of course, in the event of a Brexit, the economic downturn that will follow will make Britain a far less attractive country compared to other parts of Europe, we'll all be poorer, and immigration from the EU will fall of its own accord. But that would really be an own goal.
We need to reclaim our borders, and to have the right to determine our own immigration policies for people from the European Union, just as we control immigration from other parts of the world.
  Immigration from other countries in Europe accounts for just under half of all the immigration to the UK; and at present we cannot control it.
   Britain cannot continue to let in an unlimited number of immigrants from other parts of  Europe. If we leave the European Union, we will be able to use a "points system" to restrict immigration from the European Union to people for whom there are jobs available in the UK, and people who speak proper English.
   Today, for instance, there is a shortage of cooks to work in Bangla-Deshi restaurants in the UK; but restaurant owners cannot recruit from Bangla-Desh. By choosing our own immigration policy, we will be able to cap the number of migrants from other European countries, and bring in more people from Commonwealth countries, such as cooks from Bangla Desh.
    Immigration from other parts of the EU, notably from southeast Europe, has driven down wages in the UK. Reducing immigration from the EU will thus lead to higher wages for many unskilled jobs as employers recruit British employees to replace migrant workers who accept lower pay.
    We will also keep more of the young people that we educate in the UK, as there will be less opportunity for them to go and work abroad, if there is no longer free movement of people between Britain and the countries of continental Europe.

Post-referendum update:
Many prominent Leavers now admit that leaving the EU will not actually reduce immigration more than a fraction, if Britain wants to continue to benefit from Access to the European single market. 
  In addition, the "Leave" victory has unleashed a wave of xenophobic and racist incidents in the UK, with police reporting a 57% increase in such acts compared to before the referendum.

Britain in the world : a question of reputation and influence

Britain is stronger in Europe than out.
We have everything to gain from remaining as a constructive member of the European Union.
Europe is (as long as it remains united) one of the  four major players on the world scene, and Britain is one of the three major nations in Europe. Alone we will lose this influential position. 
Britain can have more influence as a sovereign nation than just as a part of the EU. Britain can be an equal partner with the USA, with China, with Russia and the EU.

Trade and economy: can Britain perform better in the EU or outside it ?

The vast majority of economists in Britain and other countries warn that Britain leaving the EU would be an economic disaster.
The EU is the world's largest economic area. Britain will be more successful economically as part of the EU, than outside it. If we leave, we will still have to take account of EU rules and regulations if we want to trade with the EU; but we will no longer be able to influence them and help to shape them.
  A Brexit would mean the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, as international firms that need a base in the EU relocate offices and plants to Ireland or to the continent.
   The "Remain" campaign don't have the monopoly of "believing in Britain". We all "believe in Britain"; but believing in Britain is not some magic trick that will let us defy the economic odds.
57% of the UK's car production is exported to the EU countries, according to the SMMT. 
  A vote for Brexit is certain to have a negative impact on this.... if only from EU consumers who are furious about the UK leaving the EU. There have already been calls in Europe for consumers to boycott British products if Britain damages the European union economy by voting to Brexit. But it is likely to be much more negative than this, leading to plant closures and job losses in the UK motor industry and is subcontractors, many of them small firms.
  In addition, in spite of the claims by Leavers that Britain can't target export markets outside the EU because of EU rules, the UK car industry's biggest export market is the USA... followed by China. Not only can we export outside the EU; we can do so with great success.
SMMT: Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. - 2016
A handful of neo-liberal British economists believe that Britain could do better by leaving the EU.
  British business is hampered by bureaucratic red-tape from Brussels. Even the 80% of British companies that do not export have to follow EU rules on standards, employee rights, union representation, health and safety, paternity leave and other bureaucratic red tape; this is a burden on small businesses.
   If we leave the European Union, we can bring down the cost of labour in the UK, so that firms can hve manufacturing plants here in the UK, rather than exporting their production facilities to countries with low labour costs.

   Besides, big companies will want to keep their operations in the UK and will only relocate as little as possible, as Britain without EU red-tape will be a more attractive place to do business.
  We need to believe in Britain.

EU intervention and interference, and the concept of the EU

Over the last 40 years, membership of the EU has actually been very beneficial to the UK. When we joined back in 1976, Britain was "the sick man of Europe". Becoming part of the world's largest union of independent states has helped our economy, our wealth, our science and development, and our status on the world stage.
  Much of the "interference" that the "out" campaign so dislikes is actually legislation to protect the rights of ordinary people, to protect the environment, to protect consumers, to force phone companies to reduce roaming charges, or to require greater transparency from financial operators to combat money-laundering and tax evasion.
  In addition, the biggest burdens on business in the UK today have nothing to do with the EU. For instance", the new "living wage", a major cost to business, is intervention by the UK government, not by the EU.
   The EU is a force for peace and stability in a continent that has long been fractured by wars and national rivalries. It was set up, and still functions, to defend and promote peace, democracy and democratic institutions throughout Europe.
   The last thing Europe wants is to return to being a continent divided by rival nationisms, as it was in 1914 or 1939, with the consequences that we all know. Many Brexiteers seem to imagine that a Brexit will turn the clock back to some golden past, when Britannia ruled the waves and the Empire.But no amount of imagining will bring back the past.
Government intervention, and even more so EU intervention, interferes with natural market forces, therefore is bad for the economy. By leaving the EU, Britain will take back control and be able to get rid of a lot of unwanted Brussels legislation in fields such as consumer protection or employee rights.
   Freed from  unnecessary bureaucratic intervention, British firms will become more efficient and profitable.

   The European Union is an attempt to deprive the nations of Europe of their independence and sovereignty, by the creation of a massive European superstate run by unelected bureaucrats. Boris Johnson likens the European Union to Adolf Hitler, in the way that it is trying to unite Europe under a single authority.

Brexit and business

Most businessmen, and in particular the leaders of exporting companies and large companies, agree that leaving the EU would seriously damage their business and employment opportunities in the UK.
   There are some who feel "Big business wants the UK to remain in the EU for its own interests, for its big profits." Well maybe it does... But profitable businesses create jobs; and their profits mostly go to big investors, notably our pension funds.
   A Brexit will hit our big companies and our small ones; and while it may mean some people don't get fat-cat bonuses, a far bigger impact will be that  a lot of ordinary people lose their jobs, or can't get the jobs that have been moved to the Continent or to Ireland. And pensions will be smaller if business are less profitable.

A minority of business leaders and company owners dislike the EU because it imposes an extra cost, and extra rules on their freedom to act. These include EU workplace legislation, social legislation, employee rights, and standards.  Some business leaders also complain that EU legislation restricts Britain's freedom to set up bilateral free-trade agreements with non-Eu countries.
  James Dyson (whose company has moved all its manufacturing from the UK to southeast Asia) wants to leave the EU on account of European vacuum cleaner energy regulations, and because the EU requires vacuum cleaners to be equipped with different types of plug for different countries.

Jobs, mobility and employment

The free movement of people within the EU has been of massive benefit to Britain. Many of our firms and public services  could not survive without recruiting workers from other parts of Europe. Actually, EU citizens working in Britain pay more in taxes than they take back in benefits. And millions of Britons live and work in other countries of Europe, where they enjoy the same services and benefits as other EU citizens. If we leave the EU, all this will change.  
  Many firms depend on labour from the EU to do jobs that British workers cannot or do not want to do.
   There are some 65,000 EU nationals claiming jobseeker’s allowance in the UK : but that is only half the picture. 2.5% of Britons who live in other EU countries are also claiming unemployment benefits in those countries, notably in Ireland, Germany and France.. which is a similar rate.
The free movement of people within the EU has led to millions of people from Europe coming to Britain to benefit from our welfare system. They put pressure on our hospitals, our schools, our housing, our roads; and ordinary British people are having to bear the cost of this .  
  The influx of workers from eastern Europe has been driving down wages in some sectors, and ordinary British workers have suffered from this. Leaving the EU will allow wages to rise again.

Healthcare and Brexit

News: 9 June. Tory MP Sarah Wollaston, chairman of the House of Commons health select committee, has quit the "Leave" campaign over its untrue claims about the health service, and will vote to remain in Europe.

 Remaining in the EU is vital for the National Health Service. The NHS benefits from EU research grants, and from the free movement of specialists within the European Union. Many of our leading specialists are from other EU countries. The argument that EU immigrants are breaking the NHS is a lie. Thanks to the EU health-care agreement, hundreds of thousands of UK citizens have a free EHIC card, and thus get treatment on health services in other countries of the EU. Arrangments are reciprocal. Everyone benefits, including holidaymakers. "Healthcare tourism" is very marginal... and it works both ways. 
According to the Daily Express, "Uncontrolled immigration has put a huge strain on A&E waiting times." Leaving the European Union will reduce pressures on limited resources. A number of leading figures in the "leave" campaign have misgivings about the way the health service is run.

  According to Nigel Farage, there is plenty of room for cuts in the NHS; and according to Boris Johnson, people should be made to pay for certain services so that they "value them more".  Tory MEP Daniel Hannan claimed on American television  that the NHS has been a "60 year mistake", and that a national healthcare system is not a good way to run healthcare in any  country.

The cost of belonging to the EU

Belonging to the EU costs us 0.34% of our wealth: domestic taxation in Britain, by contrast, costs us 35% of our wealth – 100 times more. The small cost of belonging to the EU is actually is vastly outweighed by the benefits of membership.  Though leaving the EU might allow some of our richest people to get even richer, it would make most ordinary people poorer.
  The figure of "£360 million a week"  banded about by the Leave campaign is seriously wrong, as it does not take account of what we get back. The real figure is less than half.... and a good bit of that pays the salaries of the thousand or so UK nationals employed by the EU civil service
Belonging to the EU costs Britain billions of pounds each year, money that could far better be spent on reducing taxation, or spending more on our public services. There is no point at all going on spending all this money to pay for unnecessary bureaucrats in Brussels, or to pay the salaries and expenses of MEPs.

Post-referendum update:
Most senior Leave campaigners have now backtracked on the idea that £360 million a week could be saved and spent on the NHS . The figure had been widely condemned as wrong, before the vote, but the Leave campaign continued to use it.

The consequences of leaving the EU

For the last 70 years, Britain has basked in an aura of goodwill from other nations in Europe, as the nation that saved Europe. In 1939, inspired by great Europeans like Churchill,  we went to war for Europe and we didn't count the cost. With the help of our allies, we won, and Europe has been grateful to us ever since.
  If Britain leaves the EU, Britain will change from being the nation that saved Europe to the nation that abandoned it, or maybe that contributes to a major crisis in the EU, by unleashing nationalisms all over the continent.
  It is pure wishful thinking to imagine that in this new Europe, the UK will benefit from any special favours. Europe will not listen to us, and we will not be in a position of force to make them do so. As a small island off the coast of a disgruntled Europe, our future could be very bleak.
   According to the IMF, a British exit from the EU would be likely to have serious consequences for both Sterling and the UK stock market, damaging investment, pensions, and the UK's balance of trade. Experts suggest that sterling could rapidly fall by 10 -20 % against the dollar.... which will make everyone in Britain poorer, by considerably increasing the cost of foreign holidays and everything we import.
  In addition, if Britain leaves the EU, the remaining countries will certainly lay out the red carpet to attract international investment away from Britain and back into the EU.... and to develop an international financial centre in the EU that will eventually rival and maybe overtake London.
  It would take a few years, but it is foolhardy to imagine for one minute that the EU would just acquiesce to having Europe's major financial hub in a nation that is no longer part of the Union.
Britain has everything to gain from leaving the European Union, then negotiating lots of bilateral trading deals, visa deals and citizen exchange deals with other countries.
   Freed from EU rules and bureaucracy, the UK will be free to negotiate deals that are in Britain's best interest, and this will be far more beneficial to British business than being obliged to set up international deals in the framework of the European Union, as happens now.
   Since Europe exports more to Britain than Britain exports to Europe, European countries are going to do whatever we ask them to do, to make sure that their firms can still compete in the UK market. They are not going to erect trade barriers.

  If Britons vote to leave the EU, there will quite likely be short term consequences on the stock market and for the value of sterling; but these will not last long.
   A fall in the value of Sterling will make the cost of holidays abroad more expensive, and will drive up the cost of imported goods - cars, computers, electrical goods, but not by a lot.  But on the other hand, it will make British goods cheaper, so our exporting companies will be more competitive in international markets, which will generate more jobs.
   As for the IMF, their predictions are not always right.

  Besides, London is so well established as the world's leading financial centre, that this will not change whether we remain in the EU or leave it.

Collateral consequences - the future of the UK and Europe

All opinion polls show that Scots and Welsh voters will vote strongly in favour of remaining in the EU.
  Any victory of the "leave" campaign in the UK as a whole would open the floodgates towards victory for Scottish nationalists in a new Scottish Independence referendum, leading to a breakup of the United Kingdom within maybe less than five years. Nicola Sturgeon has already said that a new referendum could be organised.
  This will leave England even more isolated – on the outside of Europe and no longer even a United Kingdom.
   If Britain leaves the EU, the whole EU may rapidly collapse... which will have catastrophic geopolitical and economic consequences for Britain, Europe and the West in general
If Britain leaves the EU, this will weaken the cohesion of the EU and encourage Eurosceptics in other countries to demand referendums too.  The new EU that emerges from this will be much weaker and less attractive than the UK.  which will benefit from being out. In this new order, the Scots will prefer to remain with a stronger independent UK, than with an increasingly uncertain European Union.
   If Britain leaves the EU, other countries with strong nationalist movements may follow, leading quite quickly to a collapse of the European Union. This will allow all the nations of Europe to regain their sovereignty and take back their authority – which will be a good outcome

Post-referendum update:
Brexit has been widely welcomed by far right nationalist and xenophobic parties across Europe

Still undecided ?

If you are still undecided, look at the arguments again, weigh up the pros and cons  and draw your own conclusions.
Which parties are in favour of remaining in the EU, which parties want to leave? And which of these parties do you have most sympathy with? Which of these parties have the competence to run the United Kingdom ? And what  solution do they or their leaders recommend?
Which of thepersonalities in either camp do you have confidence in?
Objectively, which arguments are most credible ?

And to conclude, three final points.

   1. If you still don't really understand the issues, you are not alone. They are not all easy to follow; they have to do with economics, finance, politics, geopolitics, nationalisms and a whole lot more.  Not everyone masters these.

   2.  Who will be most affected by the result of the Brexit referendum? Obviously, those who will have to live with it for longest. The young. And what future do they want ? 63% of the under 30's want Britain to remain in the EU.  Older voters: don't jeopardize your childrens' future.

   3  Why do some business leaders and politicians want Britain to leave the EU?
Well, it takes all sorts to make a world, and even clever and intelligent people do not always agree. And in business and politics, there are plenty of intelligent clever and ambitious people, who can disagree strongly on many things. Some are motivated by deep-held ideology, others by loyalty to a cause, others by personal ambition, others by a dislike of anything that restricts their liberty.

In the world of business : there are businessmen, fund managers and financiers who dislike anything that limits their ability to make money or take risks. The EU has pioneered rules and regulations to bring more transparency into banking or stop money-laundering. It has placed disclosure obligations on investment funds, many of which operate out of secretive tax havens such as the Cayman Islands or Bermuda. Unsurprisingly, many fund managers and their friends in politics object out of principle to these limits to their "freedom".
In the world of politics:   Most (but not all) of the MPs and other influential people in Britain  who want to leave the EU are politically on the far right - the right wing of the Conservative party, or even further to the right. Their desire to leave the EU is not motivated by rational argument, but by neo-conservative ideology. The political far right, is traditionally nationalistic, sovereignist, and anti big-government. This is true in the UK and the USA, just as it true in other countries. Throughout Europe, far-right parties are anti-EU, and looking forward to a Brexit for inspiration. Paradoxically, the same goes for a number of parties of the far left, for whom the EU is a tool of capitalism and big business.
   Moderate, middle-of-the-road politicians and parties are generally in favour of remaining in the EU.
  History shows us however that when far-right nationalists take control, the results are not usually very happy.  Just think of two recent examples - Milosevic in Serbia, or Galtieri and the generals in Argentina.  Their rhetoric sounded good to the people, they appealed to nationalistic emotions, and they blamed outsiders for their country's woes (in Serbia's case the Bosnians, in Argentina's case, the British); but their results were calamitous for their countries.
   Being nationalistic is not at all the same as being patriotic. Patriotism is a love for your country. Nationalism is imagining that your country is better than others.

See also :  Why Britain needs Europe New: Britain Brexits - who's to blame?

1. As reported in many news media. The Kremlin is refusing to make any public comments on Brexit, fearing (quite logically) that any announcement of a Putin backing for Brexit would be counterproductive, in the way that French National Front leader Marine Le Pen's planned UK Brexit support visit was blocked by Brexiteers as being more likely to damage the Brexit campaign than help it.See numerous articles
2. Percentages from YouGov poll as reported in the Daily Telegraph, 26 Feb 2016

 Copyright  :
 © Andrew Rossiter and 2016  - 2018
Photo Marchagainst Brexit. By John Briody
Licence Creative Commons 2.0

Preparing for Brexit -  events since the referendum Brexit: the most realistic solution Will Brexit actually happen? Maybe not