Monday, 27 June 2016

The die is cast

And so - the fall-out from surprise result of last Thursday's referendum continues in the wake of the vote for "Brexit".  17.4 million Britons, or 51.9%  voted that they no longer want to remain in the EU.  Six weeks of campaigning produced a close result, which was expected, but an overall vote to leave, which wasn't.  There is apparently a petition currently attracting signatories - many of them allegedly fraudulent - demanding a re-run.  But seriously: the question was simple enough: in or out and it produced a majority in a free vote.  That's how democracy works in action.  You can't have endless re-runs using slightly different rules until you get the result you want.

I'm old enough to remember Britain's first attempts to join what was then known as the 'Common Market', twice frustrated in the 1960s by the veto of French President de Gaulle.  Over the years since then the face of Europe has changed beyond recognition with the virtual end of the Cold War, the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and the enlargement of the EU into a sprawling union encompassing virtually every country in Europe.  The character of the union has changed too, from a simple trading area to a more of a political union raising in turn questions of national sovereignty.  So the pressure which gave rise to the demand for the referendum in the first place I think was inevitable.  What has tipped the balance seems to have been the migration/refugee crisis, Europe's collective failure to deal with it, and the resulting pressure on the UK public services and facilities.  A relevant question to my mind is why, with open borders and 25 other countries to choose from, do so many migrants want to come here?

Much of the scaremongering which marked the campaigning was just that - scaremongering.  The plain fact is that no-one actually knows what's going to happen to jobs, prices, and trading in the future.  Gone will be the loathsome petty diktats which regulated amongst other things the curvature of bananas.  Perhaps too we shall see the end of the 5% VAT on gas and electricity which was a Brussels imposition.  But I've no doubt whatever happens we shall survive.  Better off in some respects and worse off in others.  However the feeling of having chosen to do something as opposed to having it imposed against your wishes is in my view a price worth paying.



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