Blog post by David Clarke, Vice Chair of the European Movement in Scotland
One of the most depressing aspects of the Brexit debate, for Remainers and Leavers alike, must be the feeling that we’ve gone through this all before and all the same old arguments seem to occur again and again. With this in mind and to lower the collective blood pressure of the nation, I’ve put together a list of 20 arguments from the Remainer side as a quick and easy reference for any on the Leave side to understand our thinking:
1. The world is a dangerous place and working together with your friends and allies is better than not working together.
2. if you choose to work together you need common institutions to adjudicate on any disputes, and sometimes you may lose the argument in those institutions.
3. All institutions have weaknesses and strengths, but the EU is difficult to beat: the world’s biggest economic trading block; a guarantor of peace and democracy across Europe; a beacon of liberal democratic values.
4. The EU is democratic and all senior officers are either directly or indirectly elected by European citizens. And for good measure, it doesn’t have a House of Lords!
5. Feeling something ain’t the same as knowing something. While we recognise the dangers of groupthink, we believe on balance to trust those with the most experience and expertise. In the UK’s case at present the dangerous groupthink is that the EU is a bloated, bureaucratic and economically sluggish monolith – “they need us more than we need them.” This false narrative, which has no basis in fact, has been carefully cultivated over many years by Brexit extremists.
6. Non-tax barriers are just as unhealthy for trade as duties – the longer it takes to get something through customs and the more paperwork required, the higher the cost and the less likely it will be the people will want to do business cross-border.
7. Britain had an empire and then joined European Union. It has never existed as an unaligned nation site in modern history. Leaving the EU is a jump into the unknown.
8. Immigration increases the collective wealth of the UK. However we recognize that some people may feel that there are cultural and societal consequences in too much immigration. There is a trade-off here and no simple solution, but it should be noted that our relationship with the EU is the only one we have where there is an equal reciprocal right for UK citizens.
9. The British people benefit immensely from the European project – young people in particular have their horizons widened by being able to work, live and love across the European continent
10. If the European project is about homogeneity it’s doing a bad job – travel around Europe to see the diversity of our cultures within our European Union.
11. Normal human interaction requires that those who decide on a course of action do not impose on others the responsibility for directing that course of action nor the responsibility for the consequences of that action.
12. An effective customs union has to have checks at its frontier, otherwise it ceases to be a customs union. We cannot ask the EU to leave its back door open for our purposes and therefore it is Brexit that causes the Irish border issue.
13. Saying there is a solution isn’t providing a solution.
14. Ditto, saying that technology will provide a solution is not providing a solution.
15. Neither individual will nor the pluck of the British people nor saying something often enough can magically make the world as you would like it to be.
16. Democracy is an ongoing process and people have the right to change their minds at any time without apology.
17. A 52-48% split in the country is not an emphatic decision nor a clear mandate.
18. Unless something appears on the ballot paper it has not been voted on – it is not up to people to interpret what people meant when they voted.
19. There is no such thing as the will of the people – some people want one thing, others want another thing, but there is nothing more dangerous than the tyranny of a majority. Dissent is always to be welcomed.
20. If you do the wrong thing or tell lies you will eventually be found out. The Leave vote thrived on misinformation and broke electoral law. Sooner or later there will be a reckoning for this.