Thursday, 5 May 2016

Should it be a vote from the heart or with the head?

I have come to the conclusion that there is no right or wrong answer to the question on how to vote on the 23rd of June.

We will all have to vote in line with our beliefs.

A vote to remain.

If I vote to remain, that is saying yes to the UK staying in a "reformed" EU. But is it reformed? It is not fundamentally changed in the spirit of David Cameron's Bloomberg speech.

So it is sending a message to the EU that the UK wants to stay in the EU without  the need for reform. It can carry on with its plans for ever closer union for those countries in the Euro. And for Britain what does that mean? We stay in the club, but we can no longer influence it, only continue to try and distance ourselves from some of the worst aspects of the EU. But we would still be constrained and unable to be free to develop our trade with other parts of the world, independently from the EU.

In addition, a part of the deal struck by Cameron, we lose the power to influence how the Euro zone develops. We will be unable to veto how they develop.

As a little aside, I have always considered it odd that under David Cameron we have been committed to 1% of GDP to help develop third world countries.  Having worked in Africa for the last 10 years, I have come to realise that it would be far better if we helped them to develop through trade, rather than through charity. But that can't be achieved because the EU is a closed block and the French would not like to open up exposure of their agricultural sector to foreign competition, a sector that could most benefit the wider population in Africa, since mineral extraction only benefits a very narrow section of the population in these countries.

I mention this aside as it plays on my mind. They say we would lose influence in the world if we left the EU. But as with my little aside, we can't influence the world in the right ways. i.e. let African countries develop by trading more easily with us. I just can't get out of mind the issue that I see the EU focuses on the wrong things. It arrives at the wrong decisions. It is not influenced sufficiently strongly by its populations. It is influenced by big business because they have easy and ready access to them. 

Aside from the Euro and the Schengen issues which I regard as flawed decisions, another one is pollution. The French and German car makers lobbied strongly to ensure that EU legislation promoted the wider use of Diesel engines as a means of reducing CO2 emissions, but they collectively ignored th impact to health of Nitrous oxide emissions. The decision is now shown to be flawed with the dangerous levels of pollution in major cities such as Paris and London.

A vote to remain in an organisation that is flawed and shows no inclination towards reform, is quite a dangerous signal to send.

A Vote to Leave

A very difficult one really! It will lead to a period of uncertainty and I can well imagine such a divorce would be acrimonious. And to be complete, it would take 10 years. So what benefit would there be of leaving? There would have to be a collective jolt to the whole economy to ensure that the negatives from leaving were adequately compensated across each section of the economy. 

How many countries use their investment s in the UK economy as a bridge into the EU single market area.

Can we adequately compensate for the change in relationship with the EU that would follow.

The advocates for a vote to leave are not helping the debate really by not being explicit and consistent as to how these issues would be addressed.

Perhaps it is better to stay. Perhaps the Euro will self destruct in the near term. Perhaps the people's of France or Germany will vote in ways that fundamentally change the EU agenda.

Perhaps it is better to stay and encourage the UK government to influence the EU to change.

I know my "perhaps" are a hopeless cop out. The referendum is here to let the people decide on an issue that the politicians have been unable to work through.

We all have to vote with our heads and hearts on the 23rd June.

We have to send a collective signal to politicians in this country and others, but also to the unelected bureaucrats in the EU, that represents the will of the British people.

Not an easy one. But I do think my thoughts are beginning to crystallise.

My heart says a vote to leave is required as I reject the EU as a dangerously undemocratic project that is not necessary. David Cameron's renegotiation of the UKs relationship with the EU shows that they see no need to reform and are not interested in allowing the UK to have control of issues such as immigration that the EU regards  as fundamental in the development of the EU. In my opinion it is necessary to have a Union of Nation States working together to resolve issues where cooperation is required. And this would require some loss of Sovereignty, which I accept.

My head sees David Cameron's negotiation for a reformed relationship with the EU as the best he could achieve in the circumstances. I am concerned that the Euro zone will develop in ways that negatively impact the UK without allowing it the flexibility to adjust and adapt because of the constraints imposed on us by the rules of the EU.

My head also sees that a vote to leave will have a negative impact on the UK economy, certainly in the short term.

The French won't like it. The Germans won't either but they are more pragmatic.

Should the UK voters also be pragmatic and accept the flaws in the EU and keep trying to influence the EU to reform.

Has David Cameron successfully isolated the UK from the imminent changes that are coming for the Eurozone? Maybe the Eurozone will develop into the United States of Eurozone with tax harmonisation and Germans won't mind financing the French and Italian government borrowing. All this in the interests of working together for the common good! Ultimately they want an ever closer union so it would have a shared  debt mountain anyway, effectively.

And perhaps this is the beginning of formalising a two tier Europe.

The referendum question is a binary decision but there are so many subsections to each side that are conflicting.

Perhaps the dilemma is best resolved by trying to second guess how the EU will develop in the next ten years and how the Eurozone will develop as well.

Perhaps we should vote based on the the EU being the second tier and the Eurozone being the first tier where "ever closer union" continues to develop, unabated.

What does continue unabated is the dilemma of how to vote.

Back soon, as ever .....

... The undecided voter!

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