17th June 2002
On 23 June 2016, the British public will be asked to vote on the following question:
Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?
The EU referendum has already claimed the lives of countless happy marriages as the public are split on whether or not to stay in the EU, a supranational and intergovernmental organisation that has created an internal single market with standardised regulations and VAT rates, deployed a common currency in the form of the Euro, allows the free movement of people between its 28 member nations, and generally earns the ire of both the left and the right sides of the political spectrum (you're welcome for that explanation, Americans). One side proclaims it to be a capitalist monstrosity that is eroding British values and democracy, while the other side says it is a socialist monstrosity that is eroding British values and democracy. In the middle are a bunch of businessmen and rich people who stand to either lose or gain a lot of money depending on which way the vote goes, and so are attempting to influence things accordingly.
So far, this referendum campaign has been one of the most poorly-fought in living memory, even more so than the Scottish independence referendum in 2014 (yes, Britain has a referendum about leaving or splitting something every two years - everybody needs a hobby). Both sides are listing all of the terrible shit that will happen to Britain if we leave/remain, while simultaneously warning people not to fall for the scare tactics of the opposing side. The UK government has used taxpayer money to push its own view of the referendum, in clear breach of all ethics, but nobody was surprised and nobody did anything about it. David Hameron, once a firm Eurosceptic, has come out of the closet as the institution's surprise biggest supporter after he successfully managed to negotiate bullshit from the EU, and former London mayor Boris Johnson is doing some stuff too probably (he just wants to be the next PM).
Meanwhile the Labour Party, thought of as being the most pro-EU party in the country, has all-but imploded over the issue, and has no serious leaders in either camp.
Depending on who you listen to, migrants are either flooding Britain and wrecking the economy or bolstering the economy and saving lives, the EU itself is either draining us of money or filling us to the brim with money, and our democratic system that involves political parties governing without a majority share of the vote (and lesser political parties achieving a sizable share of the majority vote but gaining no seats, because first past the post lol) is in dire threat of being subsumed by an undemocratic socialist/capitalist beaurocracy taking over everything and making us part of a super-state. EU laws are simultaneously terrible and great for the British people, they either constitute the lion's share of British legislation or just a tiny proportion, and they are both important and unimportant.
European leaders are telling us that we must remain in the EU for the collective good, while simultaneously telling us to fuck off if we're not happy, and Barrack Obama is mystifyingly trying to threaten British voters - none of whom voted for him, even if they might have wanted to - by telling us to stay a member of the EU lest our 'special relationship' disappear. Maybe he wants to be the next PM too? Hey, we'd actually welcome him, and I hear he's got a dry spell coming up in his career.
And all the while, Britain's largest pub chain is claiming to be the foremost authority on the entire debacle, because of reasons. Why not, this shit wasn't confusing enough as it is.
I consider myself to be fairly clued-up on this subject, at least compared to the average joe on the street, and have voiced my opinions in the Forum of Old in the past. But even I am struggling to decipher the impossibly mixed messages we are being fed, so how anybody without any significant knowledge on the issue is supposed to make an informed decision is anybody's guess.
My view on the matter has varied over the years. In the past I was firmly against the EU, but in recent years that view has been tempered by common sense. The largest economy on the planet and our most significant trading partner, there's no question that we need access to the single market. Even if we leave, we'll end up having to adopt most of their standards and procedures to be able to do business with them, once we've negotiated a no-doubt-punitive separate trade deal with them - much like Norway and Switzerland, which are not EU members but you'd never be able to tell.
While there is a proud British nationalist lurking inside me somewhere, screaming out for me to tell the EU to fuck off so we can rebuild our empire and shit on Napoleon's grave, the sensible Matt has prevailed: leaving the EU would be a decision based on emotion and - frankly - xenophobia. I've been made redundant too many times to risk trashing the economy that's only just starting to recover.
More than anything else, I find the idea that we need to 'reclaim our democracy' to be laughable. What democracy? How much of the popular vote did the Tories get? How much better is our own Parliament than the EU government? Do we really WANT to give more power to our own government? Nobody has a good thing to say about it. Sure, there are serious issues with transparency and accountability in the EU which I have complained about in the Forums of Old, but we can't do anything to change them if we leave. We should stay in.
I'm curious to know what other Brits are thinking of the whole shitfest, and what international views are like too.
Voice of joy and sunshine
26th May 2003
I shall be voting to remain within the EU. I think that we could do better outside of it, I think that properly governed we would not be as rich but that we could apply what resources that we have more efficiently. Unfortunately I don't think that we would be properly governed. Many of our fundamental rights, like the data protection act, like working times directives, exist in the form that they do only because they have to be harmonised with EU legislation. And then I look at the actions that our own government has taken, like the outrageous abuse of disabled people and the difficulty of claiming employment support allowance to secure their basic living, like retired soldiers dying in their flats surrounded by job applications because they've been sanctioned for something under some senselessly punitive system. I look at the distinct lack of any meaningful democracy in our own system.
For me, it comes down to an issue of trust, to an issue of where I want the balance of power to lie between two bodies that I don't feel I have any meaningful influence over anyway, and I perceive that Brussels has more in common with my own interests than Westminster has. Even if we voted for independence, what would I be able to do to gain meaningful representation in Westminster? Vote for another Eton boy?
There's a lot of rhetoric on both sides, and it is possible that if we left the EU we would nonetheless retain legislation that favours our basic rights. But even if we would retain that, I don't see any incentive that justifies the risk of the contrary.
7th December 2003
I can see why people don't like the EU too much. It is a big intransparent bureaucracy which channels money from rich northern EU states to poor southern states. For a country like Germany the EU is very valuable. Germany exports lots of stuff to other EU countries while at the same time poorer EU countries devaluate the currency (which helps with the exporting business). Of course there are limits to how often we can bail Greece out before we make a loss, but right now things work pretty well for us.
Not sure what the situation is like for the UK. I don't think any one EU state has good chances in a global competition when you are playing against countries like China. But then the UK's economy seems to be mostly about the financial sector. Some degree of isolation has been beneficial to countries that focus on finance.
I hope the UK will remain within the EU. The scepticism that motivates the referendum could be a good balance for the often unreasonable demands of corrupt southern EU states.
2nd May 2016
EU - a union in which a curvature and size of a banana gets better treatment that a muslim invasion.
it has to die. period.
11th November 2006
Isn't it just another shade of the same color?
I remember a few years ago, everyone was screaming about how the evil Polish were coming to steal our jobs and ravage our culture. Then the cruel Gypsies coming to wreck our infrastructure and abuse our social systems. Now it's the mean migrants coming to make terrorism. I am curious how the UK would do on its own, though. Is its economy strong enough to stand without the support of the EU?
2nd May 2016
Xenophobic paranoia isn't a new thing in this country. It's almost charming in its own stupid, hereditary, not-really-charming-at-all sort of way. If we're already in, I think it means less trouble and annoyance in the long run to remain so. Britain managed to retain the Pound and, unless I'm mistaken, isn't actually part of the Open Borders policy (ummm, don't quote me on that), so maybe it can negotiate more perks and less restrictions in the future. The EU's no doubt going through a bit of a turbulent time due to the refugee crisis, terrorist attacks and bureaucracy, but I don't see that improving for us by deciding to cut Britain off from the rest of Europe in what appears to me to be primarily a spiteful and xenophobic act.
17th June 2002
"Barbas"Xenophobic paranoia isn't a new thing in this country. It's almost charming in its own stupid, hereditary, not-really-charming-at-all sort of way. If we're already in, I think it means less trouble and annoyance in the long run to remain so. Britain managed to retain the Pound and, unless I'm mistaken, isn't actually part of the Open Borders policy (ummm, don't quote me on that), so maybe it can negotiate more perks and less restrictions in the future. The EU's no doubt going through a bit of a turbulent time due to the refugee crisis, terrorist attacks and bureaucracy, but I don't see that improving for us by deciding to cut Britain off from the rest of Europe in what appears to me to be primarily a spiteful and xenophobic act.
Britain isn't part of the Schengen Area, which removes border controls and the need for passports to travel between signatory members, but EU citizens can still live and work in Britain freely. Opponents claim that this is what is causing the 'immigration crisis'.
"Dem Poles be takin' our jerbs!!" Etc.
Caffiene Fuelled Ravings of an undiagnosed Sociopath.
13th June 2008
"Mr. Matt"I am struggling to decipher the impossibly mixed messages we are being fed, so how anybody without any significant knowledge on the issue is supposed to make an informed decision is anybody's guess.[/quote]
It's a flip of the coin. Most people I know are voting to remain even though they do not know why. Citing reasons such as "I dont want to be stuck alone on a small island with the tories". Which is fair enough but has absolutely zero to do with the EU."Nemmerle"Even if we voted for independence, what would I be able to do to gain meaningful representation in Westminster? Vote for another Eton boy?
Voting for independence wouldn't change our own politics, but neither would Remain. We'd still have the laughable first past the post system where a minority government can gain power and remain for 8 years, only 4 of which spent in coalition.
Regardless of what the country votes on June 23, I highly doubt our government will change procedures that drastically. I have heard it said that if we vote for independence that smaller parties would be more fairly treated, but I'm skeptical.
[quote="MrFancypants"]I hope the UK will remain within the EU. The scepticism that motivates the referendum could be a good balance for the often unreasonable demands of corrupt southern EU states.
Say what you want about Cameron, but he would have us believe that these latest negotiations took months only because he argued on a few points, and even then he had to compromise on quite a few of his demands which the EU thought were frankly unreasonable. It's going to be a fight to balance out demands - when both sides feel that the other is unreasonable.
I don't know which way I'm voting, but I'll likely vote to not change a formula that seems to be working for the majority thus far, and has been in place my entire lifetime. Most things wrong with our country are not down to the EU, which is what the politicians would have us believe, but down to a poorly run government.
Mikey - GameFront.com - Lead Developer
Wanna go Double Dutch?
9th December 2003
The EU has it's flaws, such as the way the EU Parlaiment works Why can't I vote on just Dutch parties and not say a UK or Austrian party? Some of which argue a lot during election time wbut who are forming a coalition blokck with a whole bunch of other parties. Or how national administrations all too often "blame Brussels" while the national representatives in the European Council and the very same parties that voted in favour of certain legislation are the same parties who try to tell us how much they are not amused by those very rules that "Brussels dictates to us". Or failing to understand that we need to work together and compromise. You can't have it your way all or even most of the time, and with so many other countries, it shouldn't be a surprise that often you don't exactly get what you want. But overall the EU is not pure evil. The common market, free movement, such things are a lot better then if we stayed behind our national borders. Just as we may not always be so happy what our national parlailment in our capitals dictate to us, but that is still no reason to have your state, province or region desire independence. Try fixing the system from within, it won't be easy but it can be done. it can be made more democratic, less bureaucratic but remember that there will be lots and lots and lots of talk if a board of people try to figure out what millions and millions of citizens want... or atleast can live with.
And if the UK left, what options does it have? It won't be a one way street, you can't wish to stop Polish people from "taking our jobs" but wish that British people can move freely through the EU to live or work. Norway an Switserland have signed up for most of the EU's rules and regulations, but with very little influence (no democratic input via Brussels). Why would you desire that if you feel like Brussels is pushing you around?
Brussels is flawed, just as indeed the silly 'first past the post' system the UK has on a national level. It needs change, improvement, but walking out is not going to solve things.
I do fully understand the frustration about money being thrown at the newer and less developed members in roughly the south east. That the UK, NL, Germany etc. pay a lot of our hard earned money. Perhaps the EU grew too fast. IN the long term a united and more equal European continent with a more common and equal market and people will be a good thing. Stability, trade, being able to relocate as you desire. Kicking countries out isn't really an option, not unless they'd screw the rest of the members over and over and over again. And there don't seem to be any realistic member states that are ready join the EU any time soon. In time the Balkans could join, though perhaps they'd be best off forming a small union of their own for now and then grow towards integrating in with the EU. That would take decades.
But I'm wandering off, just as dragging "the refugee crisis" is not really related (and in if you look at the number of people on the move around the globe or even in the Syrian region, it's not that many that actually manage to reach the EU. The EU can't be blamed for the 'refugee crisis' though it does show us that a true union has not been established: nations such as Hungary and Poland not being too eager on distributing the refugees. National parilaiments screaming bloody murder on not wishing to give up control over their own borders.While if we would distribute the asylum seekers over the entire EU, there would be less immigrants in the countries where right winged groups are screaming loudly that we are drowning in a tsunami of child raping beared pedo's. No, true unity isn't there yet. And the UK doesn't have such a bad deal as it is. Not perfect, Brussels isn't, but I can only see change happening while onboard, not by stepping out and making all sorts of demands standing on the side line.
As a Dutchy I think neighbouring countries have a lot more in common with us then those at the edges of the EU. It would be a lot simpeler with only a handfull of member states on so many levels. But the EU is here in it's current state so we better try to accept it with all the flaws that it has and work from there.
Voice of joy and sunshine
26th May 2003
"Admiral Donutz"And if the UK left, what options does it have? It won't be a one way street, you can't wish to stop Polish people from "taking our jobs" but wish that British people can move freely through the EU to live or work.[/quote]
That's not as simple as it seems. The UK is a massively class-based society and almost all of our systems reinforce that. There's a conflict of interests between the relatively affluent, who are strongly favoured by the EU for the opportunities it brings, and those on the lower end of the income scale whose position it makes less tenable (the degree is up for debate, admittedly) for seemingly no return.
No poor British person wants to go and be poor in Poland.
[quote="Mikey"] Voting for independence wouldn't change our own politics, but neither would Remain. We'd still have the laughable first past the post system where a minority government can gain power and remain for 8 years, only 4 of which spent in coalition. Regardless of what the country votes on June 23, I highly doubt our government will change procedures that drastically. I have heard it said that if we vote for independence that smaller parties would be more fairly treated, but I'm skeptical.
In some ways I view the EU as all that remains of a viable second house for the UK. The executive holds far too much power in this country. Would our procedures change if we left? Probably not significantly. But I'm suspicious of what it would do to the character of our politics and see no reason to run the risk given there doesn't seem to be much promised on the other side to balance out that risk.
I don't think anything's going to give the smaller parties more of a voice. We had our shot at a better electoral system and people went and fucked it up. Honestly, if the LibDems had done nothing with their bit of power other than getting proportional representation in - I'd have counted that a good trade. As it is they wussied out and now we're probably all fucked for at least a generation ¬_¬
(Hence why pretty much everyone I know said they'd never vote for the Liberals again. That was what they were voting for them over.)