Friday, 17 June 2016

The United kingdom and the EU: Sovereignty

Increasingly it seems that the majority of those supporting an exit from Europe are doing so from a thinly veiled position of xenophobic distrust and dislike of immigrants. A BBC Radio Four interview with a London blue-collar worker took me back to my childhood as they talked about the 'foreigners' coming over here and 'taking our jobs, our benefits, houses, health care and other stuff'. Were we to replace the word 'foreigners' with 'darkies' it would have sounded exactly like someone from the post Windrush London I grew up in voicing their views - in fact it could have been my Dad, a man who moved away from his native London to escape all those foreigners!

But to suggest that to people is to have them protest that they aren't racist at all and quickly move the conversation on to the issues of sovereignty and/or corruption.

So let's look at these and try and find the facts rather than the posturing - today we will try sovereignty.

In 1972 our Parliament passed the European Communities Act - an act that implicitly recognised the primacy of EU law over UK law.  We accepted that EU would generally apply but held the position that Parliament could overrule and set aside EU laws from having power here should it be felt to be detrimental to us or to be an area where the EU has exceeded its authority.

The last credible figures I've seen (2010 - House of Commons) regarding EU law says something around 15% of UK law and around half of the laws which influence our economy comes from the EU.

Just over half of the laws have to do with the way we trade outside of the EU, agriculture and fishing  - the remainder (40%) deal with immigration and the like. But sovereignty means that defence and the way we operate as a nation are left pretty much to us to decide and where we think EU laws are not in the public/national interest then we have the power of veto.

Were we to leave the EU but continue to trade within it, we would have to accept and implement the relevant laws without any ability to bring about change or veto - trading from outside would mean we would become significantly disadvantaged and would become a minority nation bending the knee to a greater power! Don't sound that acceptable to me!!! Not only that but an 'outside the EU' UK would find the freedom of travel Changes (we'd be the people in the queues at airports and docks) and would be to make of significantly less interest to the US and other supposed special relationship nations as we love influence internationally.

Waving Union flags and singing 'Rule Brittannia' is all well and good but we'd have to change the words to 'ruled the waves' and celebrate us becoming more like Albania than a player at the world table - but of course we wouldn't have all the foreigners because they would all be off somewhere with a future!

And interesting postscript came in the form of a conversation with a 'leave' campaigner' who volunteered the fact that were we to leave the UK would still need to offer up some of the sovereign power and would need to pay out ," Perhaps as much, perhaps even a little more!' for the reclaiming of our right to rule as we would need to compensate the farmers who would lose their EU subsidies. But that aside they would still need to comply with the EU regulations should they wish to trade with Europe so the only change would be the loss of subsidies - doesn't sound like a 'win' to me if I'm honest! 

Not only that but apparently if we leave we can have Genetically modified crops without 'Europe' interfering!

But it gets to be more fun as we could opt out of the 35 laws the EU has brought in (we used our power of veto to bin the other 100 we didn't consider to be relevant) but since we thought they were worth having perhaps we will decide to hang on to them after we've gone? One of them stops drivers banned in Europe from driving here, can't see why we would want to keep that one; another is about monitoring corruption - but if we leave there wouldn't be any because we all know it's only the foreigners what are dodgy (bird house and pond anyone?) - so that's cool too!

But we could perhaps decide to opt out of the Human rights things, write our own constitution and disband anything we consider to be against the public interest - which will isolate us and make us a worse nation than Zimbabwe if some of the legal stuff I've been reading (which was neither 'stay' or 'leave' relater, it was about human rights) is correct.

You know what - I am coming to a place where I am pretty convinced that we won't gain much in terms of regained sovereignty but will lose much in terms of being an influential member of the world political and economic scene.

And to leave might mean that we have to accept that racism, bigotry, injustice and the like are the values we value most, because that appears the bottom line and the underlying theme from the majority of those with whom I have engaged thus far. How long before we rewrite our constitution to please the lunatics?

Rule Britannia or Fool Britannia?
Ruling the waves or waiving the rules!

Still, I have corruption and whatever biblical indicators to look at yet - so there's always a chance that I will change I guess. But from my 'haven't a clue' position I am now finding myself as a resounding 'remain' person.

Perhaps I might have a conversation where it doesn't descend into another diatribe about how much we pay for foreigners to rule us - or about how foreigners come and take our homes, jobs, benefits and health service - or about how we are a great nation (which I think we are) whom everyone will want to get into bed with (because I fear they don't).

Still - onwards and upwards I guess ...

Fool Britannia - Britannia waives the rules!

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