Ordinary Views & Opinions on UK Politics

The Dishonesty of the Brexit Debate

It’s not my intention to try and persuade anyone how to cast their vote in the upcoming Brexit referendum. However, I really think it’s time that someone started putting some perspective on those outrageous and often desperate claims being espoused by our panicking politicians. Hopefully, the country hasn’t yet reached a point of total subservience to the political classes or, that it will just accept all the nonsense and bullshit currently being used to support the remain position. I would like to think that most half-intelligent people could look beyond the rhetoric and make a judgment based on well researched facts, rather than the desperate ramblings of a bunch of feeble politicians supported by their lofty self-interest groups.

The problem with the whole debate is that everyone seems to making it up as they go along. The remain campaign in particular appear to be making more and more exaggerated claims on an almost daily basis. They also appear to be dragging in the whole world to support them in their campaign of fear. Of course, we should all understand that this is how modern career politicians play their game these days. They come up with exaggerated and wildly fantastical claims that their opponents then have to spend valuable time and resources countering. The opponents become so embroiled in trying to show the British public just how outlandish the claims are that they don’t have time to put forward convincing arguments for us to leave the EU. So, let’s start a real debate based on actual facts so that we can all get a better handle on who’s bluffing who. Let’s start with the word that seems to be on everyones lips in this debate “Trade”

Trade is simply what results when a willing seller and a willing buyer get together and agree to trade with each other. You don’t have to be in some undemocratic club in order to do business. So, why all the fuss over the EU as a trading bloc? Simple! The EU has, as it’s primary goal, the protection of European Manufacturers and agriculture. The aim is often to protect the interests of inefficient companies that are seemingly unable to stand up to competitors, either in the form of younger companies entering the markets from within the EU, or competitors entering from outside the EU. The trick is very simple, The big established companies of the EU can lobby the unelected council of Ministers and have them draft legislation and regulations governing their specific products. Take for example, the humble loaf of bread. There are currently 1,246 EU laws governing bread. Furthermore, there are 52 EU laws governing the toaster that you put your bread into each morning. Whilst we’re on the subject of breakfast, milk is governed by a massive 12,653 EU laws. and if you have a bowl of cereal for breakfast, guess what, the bowl itself is governed by 99 laws and your spoon another 210 laws.

To the average common-sense EU citizen, this is an unbelievable amount of legislation that impinges on our everyday lives, but it does serve it’s purpose from a protectionist viewpoint. You see, anyone entering the EU market with any of these products must comply with this legislative burden before they can start selling products into the market. As for those who instigated the legislation, they can carry on with impunity, churning out products in the same old inefficient manner, but in full compliance with the regulations. In return, the EU guarantees European industry and agriculture the unhindered right to sell their products right across the European free trade zone at any price they dream up. It’s a sort of cartel where the public have significantly reduced choice in the goods they buy. As a result, we end up paying a higher price for products than we would in a genuine free-market economy. As for new companies entering the market, or foreign manufacturers, they either have to spend more money on complying with EU legislation, or they have to abandon the market altogether. Even if they do comply, a foreign manufacturer will most likely be hit with tariffs when the goods come into the EU. Whilst we may think this is a cost for manufacturers, it’s actually a cost that must be borne by European consumers, as tariffs are built into the eventual price we pay for the goods - a sort of tax on consumers.

When it comes to the UK, we benefit far less than most other EU states from this protectionist policy. This is because successive UK governments have sold out British industry in favour of financial and dodgy banking services. As a consequence, The UK has a comparatively small traditional manufacturing base when compared to other EU member states and is therefore, largely unaffected by complying with all the legislation that would otherwise apply to a more industrialised country. However, UK consumers still have to pay the price of EU wide protectionist policies.

One of the arguments put forward by the remain camp is that if the UK left the EU club, all trade would come to an end. We would have nowhere to sell our goods and we would have to go out into the big wide world and establish new international trading relationships. On the first point, we don’t currently sell any significant quantity of goods anyway. But there is absolutely no need to assume that in the event of a Brexit, that European consumers would suddenly not want to buy the few remaining products that are on the shelves of “store UK”. They may become marginally more expensive due to the possible imposition of EU tariffs, but that will just be a wake-up call to British industry to get its act together and become more efficient and reducing its costs and overheads in order to keep its products competitive.  On the second point, the argument that we need to have hundreds of international trade agreements is absolutely pathetic. No one needs a trade deal to buy and sell products around the world. If any sceptics out there don’t believe this, here is a little exercise to convince you that the UK is currently conducting international trade on a grand scale, despite being in the EU.

Walk around the average British home. Start examining all those domestic appliances dotted around the kitchen. Don’t look at the European brand names that they may be sporting, get physical, drag out that washing machine and tumble dryer, get behind the cooker and the microwave oven, look underneath the electric kettle, the food processor and the liquidiser. Find that little label that tells you where the product is made. When you’ve shocked yourself by discovering that the majority of these appliances have originated from outside of the EU, start looking closely at other items in your kitchen. Where did the cutlery come from, what about all those plastic storage containers, the pots and pans, the crockery. Even look at all those little gadgets and convenience devices you may have in your kitchen - juice squeezers, bottle openers and the humble potato peeler.

When you’ve finished in the kitchen, start looking around other areas of your home. Where did the TV’s come from, the CD Player, that Sky Box, the modem that keeps you connected to the world of the Internet. Where did your computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones come from? You may like to then start on your furniture. Where did that originate? But, if you want the real pièce de résistance, get into your closets and fish out the family clothes. Where were those made?

My guess is that over 80% of everything you will find in the average UK home has originated from outside the EU. So, who is doing all this trade with the rest of the world if the UK is solely relying on its relationship with the EU? The argument that leaving the EU will leave us in the dark ages with no one to trade goods with doesn’t make any sense at all.

Having put our trading relationships into perspective, let’s move on to the next “fear factor” that politicians are hitting us with - Immigration.

In order to have a sensible debate about immigration, we have to draw a very clear line between the “Migrant Crisis” currently affecting the whole of Europe, and normalised immigration as dictated to us by Brussels. The question that is most often asked in public debates is “Is immigration good for the UK?”. Now, politicians don’t like addressing this question head on, they prefer to dodge the issue by reeling off a speech about how grateful the UK should be for all those caring people who come to the UK to work in that great institution known as the National Health Service. We’re told that if it wasn’t for caring, compassionate immigrants, who work long hours to look after our sick, dying and elderly, our health service would collapse. This sort of speech is usually greeted with a huge round of applause from the British audience and then the question fades away. The reason? because after such a speech and such a public reaction to it, no one who may have a completely contrary opinion is likely to stand up and risk being lambasted as a racist. So, let me say it for all those that DO have a contrary opinion. Expressing concern about immigration is NOT being racist. 

Now, let’s address this common response to the question of whether or not immigration is good for the UK. To use the fact that the national health service of the UK relies so heavily on low-cost labour and skills from other countries is a shameful admission by the government that it cannot live up to its promise of free health care for all unless it can exploit foreign labour markets. This is a sad indictment of the way the UK government mismanages the NHS in the UK. Instead of applauding politicians who use this shameful argument, the population should be demanding the resignation of the rather stupid person that puts forward such an answer. Secondly, the immigrants who come to the UK to work in our NHS (in fact to work in any sector) do not have some overwhelming desire to look after the welfare of the British population. They go to the UK to earn money. Their first priority is to look after themselves and their families. They may well be caring and compassionate people, but let’s not kid ourselves. They go to the UK to work in exchange for money - it’s that simple.

So, now we’ve acknowledged the “elephant in the room” lets get onto answering the question in a more dignified and sensible manner. Yes, immigration has been good for the UK, it probably still is today, but to a different degree. Just after the end of World War II, the UK invited people from across the commonwealth to help Britain rebuild its shattered, war-torn economy. Those people came to run our transport sector, our industries, to work in our factories and our health services. They made an invaluable contribution that we should all be grateful for. In fact, we were so grateful, we even encouraged them to bring their families and offer their children the benefit of an education that they may otherwise have never had in their country of origin. The families of those migrants are now all British citizens, they’ve integrated into society and have embraced British values. So, yes, immigration in this respect was very good for Britain and it helped the UK as whole into becoming a more tolerant, multicultural society.

Now let’s fast forward to 2016. In many respects, immigration should still be invaluable to the UK, but we have a problem. We’ve been virtually forced to shut the doors on our friends from the commonwealth because we now have to accept the free movement of Europeans across our borders. As these numbers cannot be accurately projected, we no longer have the ability to know how many people to invite from other countries - people who may have the skill set that the UK needs. So, we’re wandering around in a vast cavern of uncertain numbers coming into the UK, and we have no choice on which skills we should be importing. If the UK took back control of it’s borders and could set its own immigration policies, the country would be in a position to make an assessment of its labour and skill needs and only allow those into the country to work who could fulfil those needs.

It is often voiced as an argument for staying in the EU that migrant workers to the UK contribute more to the UK economy than they actually take out. This, I find, to be the most ludicrous argument I’ve ever heard. Let’s assume that one hundred people arrive from Poland to pick cabbages on some farm in England. They are paid a salary (albeit a low salary) by the farmer who makes his money by selling his cabbages. Those salaries attract income tax and national insurance contributions. Therefore, the process of paying the workers is a transference of money from the farmer’s pocket to the coffers of the exchequer through the imposition of taxes. In that respect, of course the contribution to the economy would appear to be higher than what is being taken out. But, it all depends on what you consider to be a “contribution to the economy”. In the eyes of the UK government, and what they want the great British public to believe, the transference of taxes to the exchequer are considered to be the definitive contribution. But what about the money that’s left over after the payment of taxes?  where does that go? After the migrant workers have taken care of their basic needs while working in the UK, the rest of their money gets shipped back home to help their families to survive. Therefore, there is no further spending in the UK to help create further economic expansion. Instead, the money is being spent in someone else’s economy.

So, what would happen if we didn’t have those one hundred migrant workers? For a start the government could give those one hundred jobs to the unemployed. If they did that, the government would be “Quids-in”. Under these circumstances, they still get their tax and National Insurance contributions, but guess what? There would be one hundred less people to pay benefits and welfare to. Furthermore, British workers are far more likely to spend their leftover salary within the UK economy, which will help keep other people in work. I simply don’t buy into the notion that somehow the employment of migrant workers in unskilled jobs is helping to expand the UK economy. It may well be keeping prices lower than they would be if British employees were utilised. But, overall the addition of ten pence on the price of a cabbage is probably a small price to pay for the economic benefit of employing British workers albeit at slightly higher salaries.

Now, what about the more recent entrants into the debate. We now get fear stories coming from British retailers, particularly those monopolistic supermarket chains. They claim than an exit from Europe will result in higher prices. What! Where did this come from? The only way retail prices could possibly increase would be due to higher purchasing costs or the imposition of trade tariffs by the UK government. So we have to ask ourselves whether or not the Dutch would stop selling us tomatoes, whether the French would stop selling us wine and cheese, or whether the Italians would stop selling us olive oil. My guess is they wouldn’t, neither would they try and sell us those products at a higher price than we pay at the moment. My reasoning for this conclusion is simple. Remember the cries of desperation that were howled across Europe when Russia imposed a ban on European agricultural products? EU producers were crying in their beer at the loss of this trade, so why on earth would they consider disadvantaging another major export market such as a UK outside of the EU.

Some may argue that the imposition of tariffs could be the cause of price increases. Really? And who would impose those tariffs? Oh, of course, it would be the UK government. So maybe there is a plan afoot. Maybe the UK’s major retailers are giving the UK public a “shot across the bow”. Could it be that the UK government and their friends in the powerful retail sector are planning to force consumer prices up as a form of punishment if we vote to leave the EU? Well, if that is the plan, and we do leave the EU, at least we will be able to fire all those selfish politicians and replace them with a government with a more British-Friendly disposition, so we wouldn’t be suffering too long. Then of course, we could also vent our anger on the big retailers by boycotting their stores. If we did that, believe me, it would be business as usual within a week.

And what about the real estate sector? They’ve recently waded into the debate threatening us with a sharp fall in house prices coupled with a sharp increase in mortgage interest charges. I don’t get it. What will our membership of the EU or otherwise have to do with interest rates going up or house prices falling? Surely house prices are set as a result of supply and demand and interest rates are set by the Bank of England. Maybe this is another shot across the bow - another punishment being considered should we decide to exit. To be quite honest, I don’t think either of these two threats would be bad news anyway. We need UK house prices to fall and we need responsible borrowing. At the moment, the only people that would suffer from either of these “consequences” would be speculators who have close on 100% finance at near enough zero interest, or those people who used other people’s money to acquire “buy to rent” properties. The long suffering families who actually want to buy a home to live in have all been frozen out of the market by greedy speculators who are buying up the housing stock at over-inflated prices. 

So, what other potential punishments could the UK government be planning in the event of a Brexit? And who’s to say that these punitive threats won’t actually become reality if we remain in the EU? My view is that we are being spoken to like we are naughty children. It cannot be without reason that all the heavyweights behind the remain campaign are all the people who have the power to punish us. Think about it, the banksters are behind the remain campaign big time. How seriously should we be taking their warnings of impending economic disaster? Not very. These are the people who systematically raped the savers and small investors of the world of all their money through lies and cheating. Instead of going to prison, as you and I would if we committed fraud on a fraction of the scale they did, the government pledged billions of pounds of UK taxpayers money so they could dust themselves down and start all over again. Why should we believe them now?

What about those big business interests? Do the government have them over a barrel? are they being blackmailed by European politicians into backing the remain camp? We recently saw the great farce of parliamentary committees pawing over the finances of these major companies. They were being accused of tax avoidance on a grand scale. Noises have been made in Europe about implementing tighter controls over these big business interests to ensure they hand over more money into the tax coffers of European governments. Could it be that they will be dealt a lighter touch if they are seen to be supporting a unified Europe? It’s a question we should be asking. Likewise, we’ve recently seen extremely wealthy businessmen who have asset-stripped companies they’ve acquired and helped themselves to employee pension funds under the guise of share support schemes. Could it be that the voices of these people are being brought to bear on the remain campaign against the promise of “no further action”?. I find it all rather strange and a tad “tacky”. All the people that, experience tells us, we shouldn’t trust as far as we can throw them, people who haven’t been able to correctly forecast a single event of any significance, and people who are at the top of the pile when it comes to the unfair distribution of wealth in the UK, are all queuing up behind the remain campaign with threats and predictions of horrors to come. Why oh why can’t the British public wake up and see through this debacle. 

Whichever way the British public choose to vote in this referendum, I only hope they make their choice based on what they KNOW and not on what they are being told by a bunch of greedy, sanctimonious, power-hungry career politicians. If ordinary people don’t KNOW then they need to get out and start finding out what is really happening in the world. Only by doing that can people bring common-sense to bear on their final decision. 

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