By Allen Wesson (Politics and Economics student at University of Surrey)
Due to the current climate in the UK I am left wondering if this spell of warmer weather is a cruel trick played by the Gods to send more Patriotic Brexiteers to British holiday destinations this year, knowing full well that whatever happens on the 29th March or beyond, they will probably flock to mainland Spain, Magaluf and Ibiza anyway. Satire very much not aside, in a holy crusade of knowing what’s best for you, the archetypal hard-line ‘Remainer’ has in fact become what it set out to destroy – a fount of satirical nonsense, spouting stereotypes and further pushing divides between themselves and those who disagree.
As a moderate human being, I find the radicality of either viewpoint counterproductive, and it was pleasant to know there were very few on my side – until now. Because of this, and because there is a genuine argument to look critically at the EU, I would like to lay out some cons of the European Union and the reasons why its ok to want to stay; on the caveat we take a long hard look at what we’ve helped create.
“You hate democracy!” The Brexiteer says, “You don’t understand democracy!” Replies the Remainer in a constant bout of rhetoric. But neither of those things are relevant, ‘does the EU like democracy?’ seems to be a more valid question; and the answer isn’t quite what you may initially think. “But the European Parliament is one of the oldest institutions” said the Remainer. While true, its initial form was less a parliament and more an assembly of appointed officials, relating to the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952. An embodiment of the technocracy the EU was formed from. This paternalistic ‘we know what’s best for you’ nature sounds awfully familiar doesn’t it?
One seemingly never ending cycle around this issue is the legislative powers considered ‘too important’ for democracies to have access to – such as monetary policy for example. The approx. 2% CPI Inflation target in the UK very much has our national government involved, with seats on the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) being held by appointed officials from the elected government. However the EU seems to have divorced monetary policy from the democratic process, having the European Central Bank (ECB) as a separate institution which runs parallel to the more democratic elements of the EU.
The point of all this specificity is to highlight the fact that these rather emotionally driven catchphrases do have grounds for exploration. To say I, as a Remainer, hate democracy is untrue, and to say an ever changing institution hates democracy is also a little hyperbolic, but it does remain true that on the measure of democratic exercise, a technocracy with democracy built in at a later date is unlikely to win out over a system such as that in the USA, which was founded on democratic principle. I’m not saying that all areas of Economic policy should be directly controlled by you or I; but if your values require democracy at all turns – the EU is not for you.
“We want to take back control!” says the now very flustered Brexiteer. Our Remainer colleague, also rather flustered, seems to be in disbelief, “Take control of what exactly?”. It is no secret that the European Union takes sovereignty away from national parliaments and place it into the sphere of wider European influence. “But we have representatives in European Parliament, most of them Eurosceptics, so what aren’t we controlling exactly?”. By this stage our Brexiteer was too angry and out of breath to continue – as the stereotype would have you believe – so I will take over in their place. Although true by account of the European Court of Justice that a decision cannot be taken by the European Commission without first consulting the European Parliament, this opinion put forward by the Parliament is exactly that – an opinion. The appointed Commission does not need to go with the views given by Parliament. This means that no matter whether the decisions of the Parliament are listened to or not, there is no direct exercise of control over the EU by the common person in any other way apart from the citizen’s initiatives.
Even the Citizen’s Initiatives don’t exactly give any control to anyone – requiring 1 million people from at least 7 different countries to engage on an issue means that it’s not like every voice matters. Voices tend to matter in batches of a million, when speaking a few different languages; something we know the British aren’t too good at. I’m not saying that direct control of everything to do with our everyday lives should be reserved for you or I; but if you value total control of a nation’s destiny – the EU is not for you.
I could chair this debate between two stereotypical cartoon characters in my head all day, but I fear with two vastly different opinions, both now about as red faced as an embarrassed toddler, I fear an internal scrap in my brain in about to occur, so I’ll make my manifestations of everything wrong with Britain disappear for a moment in order to attempt to be slightly more serious.
Brexit means Brexit, and not a lot else as far as we know. Short of a date and a few ambiguous Government documents we have literally nothing to go on, and so the void is filled with rhetoric, slogans and debate. Scottish comedian and avid Guardian political commentator Frankie Boyle has said that “British people have strong opinions based on nothing at all” and I fear this satire is becoming more and more accurate as the days pass. The basis of this then is, have a strong opinion, but try and base that strong opinion in factual evidence and the opinions of others, not against the former and attacking the latter. You will find the radicality of your belief begin to falter (unless it’s about Climate Change)! With that I fear I must go into hiding, before radicals of all sides attack me for my belief systems and fundamental principles. So if you need me I absolutely will not be on Blackpool seafront soaking up Britain’s Brexit inspired summer, enjoying one last hurrah before we batten down the hatches for a few cold winters ahead.
Allen is a contributor for Incite Magazine, the political journal of University of Surrey Politics Society. A parallel article by our Editor in Chief Thomas Sherlock can be viewed on Incite at: