View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Friday, 24 June 2016

Brexit a reality

The UK out of the EU. A momentous decision with implications that few of us, certainly not me, can appreciate. I feel it is a wrong decision, made on the flawed premise that certain recent problems would not have occurred if the UK had not been a memberstate of the EU. In a nutshell, I feel that Europe has made a step backward by 80 years. We are headed back into the bad old days of nationalism from the early 20th century. Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland has as good as announced another independence referendum. Geert Wilders in Holland wants a referendum there to quit the EU. Current polls suggest he could be heading up a government after next March's general elections there. Martin Maguinness wants a referendum on the unification of the island of Ireland. Has he forgotten the Troubles? No, he can't have done, he was a bomber back then.

The far right is in the ascendancy across Europe. Why? A flood of migrants. How come? Wars, poverty. Who brings those people to Europe's shore? No answer. Nobody knows, nobody does anything about it. Certainly David Cameron did nothing. The Europe of 2020 could well see an independent Scotland, a much diminished UK, and the EU in meltdown following exit-referendums across several of its memberstates. That is precisely what our friend in the Kremlin, Vladimir Vladimirovich, wants. Be afraid. Be very afraid. For who will say that it is not at his behest that the civil war in Syria is being propagated and the people smugglers of the Mediterranean encouraged. It is the flood of migrants (not just from Syria, by the way) that has prompted this looming crisis in the European Union. The Union of the 27 now face a real and existential threat. Look east and you'll see from who.

Thursday, 9 June 2016


Even here in Holland, the Brexit Referendum is making the news. It could cost the Dutch economy 500 million euros (roughly £400m) with increased costs for trade etcetera if the UK were to leave the EU. Britain is Holland's third largest trading partner. Upon an actual Brexit, the UK could become part of the European Economic Area, of which Norway is one member. More info on the EEA on their website Thinking that being a member of the EEA is the same as being a member of the EU with all the perks but none of the obligations is factually erroneous. 

The EU is a flawed organisation, which is best improved from within. If the UK were to leave, it would have a hard time renegotiating a deal with the EU, if only on past form. For a long time, the UK has been regarded as an awkward customer, particularly since Margaret Thatcher. Many in the EU will regard a Brexit as good riddance. 

I think it would be a thoroughly bad choice, bad for Britain, bad for Europe and bad for the rest of the world. We'd be going back to the bad old days of a divided, nationalistic (in the nasty sense of the word) Europe. Do not forget that the European Union was initially set up as a trading block, to facilitate trade, enhance international cooperation in Europe. A Brexit would set us all back. Reform, change and improve the European Union. Cut back on its massive, inflated, hyperbolic bureaucracy. Cut down on some of the silly regulations. But, UK, help by being a constituent part of the Union. You cannot help to change a club by leaving it.