I sent this letter to the local paper which was printed just after Christmas. I’ve edited it again for the blog. I’ve pulled together all my reasons for voting Leave so apologies in advance to those points I’ve already mentioned before and this will probably be my last word on the subject…
As a Brexiteer, I made my decision to vote Leave, on the basis of careful consideration of what I believe to be, legitimate concerns about the political direction of the EU. As well as the lack of democratic accountability within the European Commission, I believe the EU is working in the interests of the corporate elite and not the people of Europe, consider also, if you will, the following;
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP
This trade agreement was drawn up between the EU and the US and was, in effect, handing over the democratic institutions of the countries of Europe to global corporations. Part of the TTIP agreement was ISDS, which stands for Investor State Dispute Settlement. This would have allowed corporations to sue governments in secret courts, if they brought in legislation that affected their business profits. The Philip Morris conglomerate did this in Uruguay and Australia, over anti-smoking legislation. Ironically, we have Donald Trump to thank for getting rid of it.
The introduction and subsequent collapse of the Euro has wrecked the economies of Greece, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Ireland, and has allowed the corporate elite through the EU, the IMF and the World Bank to come in and asset strip the public sector and privatise public utilities. The people of Ireland will know this through the attempted imposition of water charges that they fought so successfully against last year. The people of Greece too, know this as their public utilities have been sold off and they have been saddled with debt, in the form of loans from the IMF and World Bank, which their grandchildren will be paying for.
When did the EU change from a ‘common market’ to a United States of Europe with its own army? Why does the EU need an army and more importantly, who will control it? Why are they continuing to expand eastwards and why did they try and provoke a conflict with Russia over Ukraine, 2 years ago? If the governments of Europe are really interested in peace then why do they not support Russian membership of NATO? In whose interest is it to continue to paint Russia as an enemy of the West?
The EU and the Bilderburg Group
The Bilderburg Group are an elite group of 120 -150 bankers and corporate CEO’s who hold secret meetings every year to decide political policy in the EU and the US. They were formed after the Second World War and were instrumental in setting up the EU. These are the people who control the government which is why for the last 37 years; policy has remained the same, regardless of who was Prime Minister.
Costs and waste
The EU moves every month from Brussels to Strasbourg and back again at a cost of millions. It costs £250,000 just to move the files. It also has its own shopping centre and pays for private schools for the children of their staff. This is only a small sample of how it wastes resources but if you research online you will find plenty more.
There is no free movement of goods and services. All the talk about hard borders and customs is propaganda dressed up in media hype and fear-mongering. Anyone who trades within the EU will know that customs papers still have, and always had to be filled out and anyone who imports or exports within the EU will know about Intrastat reports where every item has to be coded, accounted for and submitted to the tax authorities every month. The customs have never gone away, the only thing that happened is the actual barriers on the road were taken down and if you still believe in free movement, ask anyone from Ireland if they can buy a car anywhere in Europe and bring it back without having to pay import duty.
The people of Ireland seem to have forgotten that they rejected the Lisbon Treaty but were bullied into another referendum with the threat that they will continue until the powers that be get the result they wanted. Sinn Fein at the time, were also opposed, a fact that seems to have been forgotten lately.
China is one of the biggest and fastest growing economies in the world at present. China does not have a trade agreement with the EU, yet most of what we buy seems to be made in China.
The narrative created and promoted by the media that anyone who voted Leave is an ignorant racist and shouldn't be allowed to breed, let alone vote, is to distract from genuine concerns in relation to the lives of the working-classes and while I believe we in Ireland, North and South, have benefitted from immigration, I do recognize the reality of life in working-class areas of Britain where immigrants have been placed disproportionally in working-class, as opposed to middle-class, areas.
On top of this demographic reality, jobs that used to be done by the working-classes have been allowed by successive governments and the EU to walk offshore. The work that used to be done in factories here and in Britain are now in China, South Korea, India and a number of other 2nd and 3rd world, exploitable economies. The jobs that are left are insecure with no guarantee of hours or permanency, union rights or protection.
The last 37 years have also seen the decimation of Britain’s coal, steel and car manufacturing industry and a fisheries policy that has led to the seas around Britain and Ireland being fished dry.
So, when working-class people in Britain complain about immigration and job losses, this is the reality of what has happened in working-class areas over many years. This isn't necessarily racist although it suits many in the national press to twist this into a narrative that appears racist and an idea for others to exploit. That's not to say, there aren't some people who are racist. Of course, there are, that's reality. However, to be anti-EU is not necessarily to be anti-Europe or anti-European.
John Pilger, in his article ‘Why the British said no to Europe’ called the Brexit vote, ‘an act of raw democracy’ where millions of ordinary people refused to be bullied and intimidated by business leaders, bankers, media commentators and political ‘representatives’. I would encourage everyone to read it.
Tony Benn in his book, Letters to my Grandchildren, states that the ‘first basic right in a democracy must be the right of people to elect those who make their laws and the right to remove them’ and rejected the ‘European Empire’ and the unelected and unaccountable, bureaucratic elite who run it.
In the midst of all the negative rhetoric and fear-mongering that took place prior to the vote, we were bombarded with propaganda, threats, and all manner of doomsday scenarios were trotted out by economists. These were the same economists who said that business in Britain would be destroyed by not joining the Euro, and yet completely failed to warn us of the great economic crash that came in 2008. A further blow to the working classes, who have disproportionally paid for the recklessness of the bankers who caused it, through the Conservative’s ‘austerity’ policies.
The DUP and Sinn Fein are, as usual, on opposite sides of this debate but are both political cowards. Sinn Fein fought against tugging the forelock to Britain but go down on their knees to the EU with a begging bowl. The DUP are like scared children, afraid to let go of Britannia’s apron strings and running away from fighting their corner in a united Ireland that makes practical and economic sense.
Have neither of them the imagination to envisage an economic union first and foremost within the UK? Instead of worrying about a divorce bill from the EU, it would suit Britain and Ireland better to redraw the terms and conditions of the UK with 4 independent nations - Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales - united and working together for the benefit of all the people here and not just the elite.
One other point I didn’t mention but may have mentioned elsewhere on the blog was that this was the first time in many, many years that I had the chance to stick one to the governing elite and in spite of all the rhetoric and arguments since, if I had to vote again tomorrow, I’d still vote Leave.