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Old 17.02.2016, 22:53
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Re: The Brexit referendum thread: potential consequences for GB, EU and the Brits in

Sorry this is a long post, but a few thoughts.....

I'm old enough to have voted in the original "Common Market" referendum in 1975. The package we were sold back then was essentially that joining the Common Market (as it was actually called) was all about 2 things:

1. Free movement of people. Very few ordinary people worked outside the UK in those days so the idea seemed a bit remote, but we wouldn't need work permits if that chance ever arose. And no visas or much paperwork for holidays (though to be fair I can't recall if and when we ever needed a visa to travel around western Europe on holiday).

2. Free trade. No variable taxes or import/export duties. Sounded like a good thing.

And that was pretty much it.

Remember in those days, before we joined there were only 6 countries in it -- France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Lux. Apart from the latter, these mostly felt like roughly similar countries to ourselves in terms of economic standing, salaries, influence, history, size/population density, education and so on.

Moreover, there was no EU parliament and no euro courts to overrule UK judges. It felt like a cosy club that all members benefitted from.

Things have changed a lot. We now have 28 (I think) members of hugely varied size, economic strength, political history, salaries and so on. It's become rather chaotic.

I'm in two minds over the referendum. It has to be right that we should be able to revisit the issue of membership after 40 years, and there is much about the EU's processes that is wrong, undemocratic and inept.

It's incredible that Merkel, a politician I previously admired, could just stand up and invite the population of Syria to Europe without even chatting about it with her own party, never mind the German government, never mind the EU at large.

It's even more incredible that once the massive migration began (about 1.5 million since last summer and still going strong), our EU leaders have been like rabbits caught in the headlights. We employ them to manage the interests of the EU, yet they appear paralysed by indecision and by the fear of being branded racist and xenophobic if they try to suggest a policy of managed immigration.

All of that makes me want to leave. AND YET.... there is an apprehension about leaving for the simple reason that no one can tell us (because no one has worked it out) what exactly will happen if the UK leaves. Unlike most decisions in life, where you can make a list of pros and cons and make a balanced decision, I see no such lists available here.

So it all comes down to how much risk I feel able to handle, and that's something I've not reached a conclusion on though my instincts push me slightly closer to the LEAVE side.
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