Friday, June 24, 2016

Yes, we can

I voted to remain with a heavy heart.  My sons were keen on Remain and, given another EU referendum was unlikely to happen for decades if ever, I voted the way they wanted.

What this Means

 I think everyone was surprised by the EU referendum result.  I think too many are misinterpreting it.

The official result was

  • 52% Leave
  • 48% Remain
and most comment I have read interprets this as a vote against Europe.  We should remember that it isn't: it's a vote against the EU.  I am sure that overwhelmingly the people of the UK will continue
  • to take holidays in Europe
  • eat European food
  • buy European goods, such as cars
UK people like Europe: by a small margin, they dislike the EU.  Indeed, had there been a third option on the ballot paper, I reckon we'd have seen the following
  • 52% Leave
  • 48% Remain
  • 80% like European things
The vote is not a rejection of Europe; it's (by a small margin) a rejection of the EU project.

What Went Wrong?

In short, the Remain campaign was inept.
  • It offered threats, instead of hope.  I found it staggering to see how, week after week, the Remain campaign delivered messages in a negative form.
  • Foreign leaders got involved. No matter what side they choose, when a foreign leader tells you what to do, chances are you'll be inclined to do the opposite.  President Obama is, I think, much liked in the UK: him telling us we'd be put on the naughty step if we voted out was almost unbelievably crass. 
  • Jeremy Corbyn led a conspicuously lacklustre campaign for Labour.  At heart he's a leaver and only changed his position under pressure from Labour MPs.
  • The EU was intransigent.  The UK has been a thorn in their side for ages and doubtless the EU is fed up with the UK.  I think they doubted they would lose this referendum.  In the end, Cameron's reform package was so watered-down that few people can actually remember what was in it and consequently it had no credibility.

What next?

David Cameron is standing down.  His timing has doubtless been carefully chosen to optimise the chances of someone like Theresa May winning and to minimise the chance that Euro MP (and lead Euro-sceptic) Daniel Hannan can win a seat in a bye-election.

Eurocrats will be waking in a bit of shock, like the rest of us.  There will doubtless be a bit of a scramble to see if they can neutralise the result, before they realise they can't.  So they will be scrambling for other options. In my opinion, the best for the EU will be the "Norwegian Option" (UK membership of the European Free Trade Area, still paying the EU some money).  Some leading EU and European leaders ruled that out before the referendum: will they reluctantly rule that back in or will fears of exits by other countries (currently most likely Denmark and the Netherlands) mean that they feel they can't afford to?

Stock markets, driven by fear, are down. Much of this should recover in the months ahead.  Inflation in the UK will pop up, but it's probably been too low for too long.  People will start to see that 95% of trade will continue as before: some will be lost in some areas and some gained in others.

Yes We Can

Eight years ago, Barack Obama's campaign slogan was "Yes we can".  This is particularly apt in the case of the UK: we have a strong, vibrant and dynamic economy.  We should be able to find a mutually beneficial settlement with the EU.  We need to look at the fast-growing economies and build bridges with them.  Workers' rights will barely change: indeed it's the current Tory Government, not a Labour one, that brought in the living wage. The next week or so will be a rough ride; the next six months, less so; by 2020 the economy will be humming along, maybe smaller maybe larger than it would have been.

There's no cause for alarm or glee over the result.  Can we survive and prosper after the referendum?   Yes, we can!

1 comment:

Slim said...

Well said. I voted LEAVE, but there are many reasons I wanted to vote REMAIN.

The UK has always been forward thinking and outspoken. Brits say things others would rather not. However we must remember 48% voted REMAIN. The government and the EU need to move to pacify the worriers and doubters that agreements will be made and that things can be done to keep the world turning once a day. A bad UK economy affects the EU in a major way. In fact Juncker was on TV earlier saying nothing changes for now, business as usual, we will talk this through and work out the best for all parties etc.