The UK’s EU Referendum

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Here we are again. There is no doubt that a lot of folks out there are wondering ‘what’s all this about?’ for this one. In layman’s terms, we can vote on whether we want to remain in the European Union or not this year – on June the 23rd. If we vote to leave, this is what we call the “Brexit”.

Now, how have we got to this point? Is it because we as a nation naturally feel disconnected to the majority of the European Union which resides on the main continent, and are naturally an EU-sceptic nation? Possibly, although EU scepticism is currently rife and has a history amongst a quite a few other influential nations in the European Union which also happen to reside on the continent.

If you’ve read any of my posts before, it will be obvious to you what has brought us to this point: we have got to this point mainly due to the global factors that I explain frequently in my principles series; the current global trends that have occurred within an increasingly global capitalism. In the run-up to this referendum, we will no doubt have proposals of the pro’s and con’s of leaving and staying in the EU. Showing the decision to be something which is heavily balanced; focussing on actually a small range of issues as if they are incredibly crucial. In the British political landscape, however, what we have had is centre-right and right-wing political parties and media pushing certain narratives which touch on symptoms of these problems, but not the root causes. From this, a groundswell has occurred, with public anger directed at these symptoms.

An example of this is how politicians of late have made a habit of connecting the Syrian refugee crisis to this EU referendum. Even though the UK is not a part of Schengen and has complete control of its own borders in relation to the refugee crisis, it is often purported by the right-wing as if a Brexit would make the UK “safer” from the “dangers” of the aftermath of the Syrian conflict.

Another example of this is also how the topic of immigration in general is deemed to be the cause of the UK’s domestic economic issues, by these same groups. Specifically in regards to the low level of the current minimum wage and unemployment. The true cause is an amalgamation of things which are quite abstract in comparison to immigration, albeit the small but clear changes that you can see visibly occurring in communities.

As immigrants overall bring a net benefit to the British economy, it’s clear that the problem isn’t at the hands of the amount of immigrants each year, it’s the government’s policies – their failure to capitalise on this net investment and in the potential of immigration as an untapped catalyst to growth in the UK economy. It then follows that the EU’s fault in this is not their refusal to deal with immigration figures, but its own democratic deficit – the bureaucratic structures within the European Union that have allowed a corporate-friendly, austerity ideology to pervade not just in the UK, but in European politics as a whole.

As we look at David Cameron’s deal. The deal that he has arranged with EU leaders so he can persuade the British public to stay in the European Union. We can see what this process of attacking the symptoms has culminated into. A deal which in almost every instance will not benefit the UK economy, and is mostly packed with symbolic gestures to appease the anti-EU ideologues in his party.

It is a deal which avoids root causes by attacking symptoms to such a degree that it may actually be detrimental to the economy of the UK. You can see this if you truly study his “emergency break” on EU migrant in-work benefits for four years, only in “exceptional” circumstances of high levels of immigration. It could actually increase immigration greatly over the short term. Child benefit being paid in proportion to the cost of living in EU-migrant’s home country. Being exempt for an “ever closer political Union”. None of these proposals come close to facing the severe and pertinent issues that are reasons behind the fact that the UK has a problem with being a low wage, high cost-of-living and non-industrial economy with low-productivity.

Even if you think strictly in terms of balancing public finances – when you compare these proposals to other issues which have been completely ignored, you can see how insignificant they really are. Despite there being protection for UK businesses for operating outside of the eurozone, there are no mentions of fighting corporate tax evasion and avoidance in the EU. Despite the motivations behind cutting the benefits available to migrants, there are no mentions of specific measure to improve British worker’s rights, or raising the basic standard of living in the UK for the lowest earners, despite the fact that the UK is still suffering a very deep cost-of-living crisis. Most shockingly I would have to say is amongst all of the dialogue concerning British sovereignty in relation to the EU, is also the neglect of any mention of TTIP. The trade agreement of all trade agreements, which literally takes power away from governments (and by association within a representative democracy – the British people) and heavily weights the balance of power towards global corporations.

Once you begin to look at things in this way, you can see the deal Cameron has made compared to the deal that he could’ve made, and a clear picture of conservative priorities.

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