The third and final instalment of my myth buster series will cover three of the biggest myths I have heard from the Inners in recent weeks. In today’s edition I will take on the usual arguments from the In campaign, and in an unusual turn for my blog I will also be taking on the President of the United States. The safest choice on June 23rd is to Vote Leave, here is why.
Myth: ‘Brexit is Regressive’
Regressive. Really? Do you know what is regressive? Being within a 28 nation customs union which prevents trade with growing economies like China, India, Canada is regressive. Shutting out the world at the expense of our friends and allies outside of the EU bubble, that is regressive. What isn’t regressive is a desire to have free trade with the whole world. A desire to engage in the distinctly liberal ideal of globalised trade and globalised markets is the epitome of a progressive nation. Calling Brexit regressive is not just unsubstantiated, but fundamentally wrong.
Do you know what is regressive? Giving away popular sovereignty to a series of Brussels (and Strasbourg) based Eurocrats, unelected, unaccountable, permanent. Membership of an organisation so illiberal in structure that it would not meet its own democratic entry requirements is not progressive but regressive. It is, I will admit, extremely ironic that if the European Union applied to join the European Union it would not be admitted, but that is the level of regression that we are talking about. Jean-Claude Juncker was thrown out by the people of Luxembourg to become President over 28 nations. That is regressive.
Do you know what is regressive? TTIP is regressive. The Green Party, considered by many to be one of the most progressive parties in the United Kingdom, oppose TTIP as, as Natalie Bennett puts it, it will ‘blow apart the power of our democratic decision making’. Yet the Greens are largely in favour of staying in the EU…which is bemusing.
If Brexit is regressive, and this is an argument thrown mainly by the left hand side of the political spectrum, then why has it been supported by so many people hailed as progressives? Tony Benn was an arch Eurosceptic, David Owen is a committed Brexiter, the No campaign in 1975 was led by Benn, Foot, Castle and the SNP and Plaid Cymru – hardly a regressive bunch themselves. Indeed, the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, a deeply principled man, was against the European Union right up until he became leader of the Labour Party – perhaps deciding that his principles against the EU were outweighed by the principled belief that he should always be opposed to the ideological position of the leader of the Labour Party!
Myth: ‘Students will be worse off’
There are so many angles from whence I could attack this myth. The most recent variant of it I have seen is this idea that it would make it harder for British students to study abroad. I’m afraid then that I must have missed all of the British students studying at Harvard, Yale, Princeton and the thousands of other universities across China, America, India, the Middle East, Japan and the rest of the World who don’t seem to have been hindered by the fact that their university of choice lies in a country with which we do not share a political union.
As for current EU students in UK universities, there have been many concerns about the effect on them in terms of fee increases or even deportation. These are merely scare stories. Current students, be they EU, UK or international, have signed a contract guaranteeing them a place at their chosen university for the duration of their course on a given set of fees. Changing that fee structure or revoking their rights to study doesn’t just violate UK law but is also a ludicrous policy for a university or a government to employ. It won’t happen. Not just that, but a majority of current EU students are on three year courses which finish long before the two year exit period for Brexit.
A myriad of other myths surround the effects of the EU on students but I alas do not have the requisite time to cover them all. This article would also be approximately three miles long before I’d finished it. Things like our membership of Interrail or Erasmus (which both have non-EU nations within them) would not in any way be threatened by Brexit. Students can only benefit from a future free from a bankrupt customs union and an antidemocratic political union.
Myth: ‘We’ll be at the back of the queue’
Taking on the President of the United States for spreading a myth is an unusual treat, but nonetheless this week’s edition of my myth busting series requires me to deal with the ludicrous assertions of Mr Obama. Barack Obama was right on cue from Downing Street when he told the British public that we should vote to stay in the EU. The obvious rebuttal I could make here, where I point out the irony of a politician whose public would never accept a supranational organisation making their laws from afar, or where I could remark that it seems logical that a President who has created a deal for themselves like TTIP would never risk that being lost, would seem strong – but I won’t say that.
Instead I will focus on this notion of the world’s fifth largest economy being ‘at the back of the queue’ for a trade deal. The notion that the United States of America would snub a preferential trade deal with one of its largest trading partners, the fifth largest economy in the world. The notion that the United States of America would make itself wait for a free trade deal with the second largest economy in the world that does business in their language thus reducing non-trade barriers, one of its largest trading partners, the fifth largest economy in the world. Should I keep going or do you get the picture?
Fortunately for the people of the United States, the man who claims to want to put Britain at the back of the queue will only be President for less than a year. I struggle to see his successor sacrificing the prosperity of the American public in their first year in office – let’s not forget they have a second term to win.
Barack Obama says Britain will be at the back of the queue, which is gratifying in a way, because at least he acknowledges that outside of the EU we will be allowed to be in the queue at all. More than that though, we will not be at the back of the queue but the front of the line. It would make no political or economic sense to do anything else.