So far economists, historians, musicians, drunks, idiots and candlestickmakers have opined on Brexit, but there has been nothing from Pseudonymous Twitter Trolls (kidding, of course there has, on Twitter). Anyway, inspired by @zatapatique I have decided to be spokestroll and go through some of the arguments from a PTT perspective.
Hitler The leave Hitler argument goes: “Do you know who else was a vegetarian (sorry, tried to unite Europe)?” The remain argument goes, “If UK leaves Heinz-Christian Strache will seize power in Germany and invade France”. The reasonable thing to do isleave Hitler out of it.
Economy There seems to be consensus on short term trouble, while long term effects are more uncertain. The effects will of course depend on which deal the UK gets with the EU, there will be an independence / economy trade off. Only thing I am going to say about this is: Even if you do assume that ten years down the road the UK will be fine outside EU, just disregarding a five year mess seems odd.
Regulation Not sure if anyone really cares about this. Most weird laws are UK made anyway and most of the rest will accompany trade agreements. Main benefit will be getting rid of the cookie directive.
Immigration I guess this is really what the referendum is about. Assuming the UK goes for a total break (so no measly Norway scenario), it will be able to reduce immigration from EU. If people think EU migrants are a bad thing and the price is worth paying voting leave might make sense. Am just going to address one strange leave argument: “If UK leaves it can let in more people from the rest of the world”. The UK could of course already do this, but chooses not to. The reply then is “We will be more restrictive to immigration from A but allow more from B”. This is not how it works. Ever. Anywhere. What always happens is the exact opposite: A more restrictive attitude towards immigration from A leads to a more restrictive attitude towards immigration from B.
Exit path This should be a problem for Leave. There isn’t one. The Leave camp is like a troubled teenager who goes to a train station to buy a ticket to Out Of Here (someone phrased it better). All talk about how the EU will react is useless at this point, they have nothing to react to. There are two (blah blah, EFTA, Switzerland, not really) main options:
Norway (EEA) option: “All new relevant Community legislation is dynamically incorporated into the Agreement. The EEA Agreement is concerned principally with freedom of movement of goods, persons, services and capital. But also social policy, consumer protection, and environment policy may be covered. The EEA Agreement does not cover agriculture and fisheries.” Leave could have run a campaign like this: We will gain control of agricultural and fisheries policies and pay a reduced EU fee, but we will give up our influence in the EU. They didn’t.
WTO option: This is really what would have to happen if the purpose of this is to control immigration from the EU. The UK relies on its WTO membership to negotiate trade deals. While this will be messy it is of course perfectly possible and is in fact the option Leave is running on. They should admit this. They don’t. It’s a genuine puzzle to me why “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” is an accepted approach to a momentous decision.
Refugees You could of course say the EU has made a mess of this. But what would 28 completely independent countries do? They would have to construct a cooperation mechanism from scratch doing something similar. It would be worse.
Vladimir Here there is already an organization, NATO. But this is for dealing with tank battalions (or something). There are many areas where NATO isn’t the right organization for security. One obvious example is energy where connecting energy markets makes everyone less vulnerable. It’s no coincidence the Baltic countries were so keen on joining both EU and NATO. Again, if the EU didn’t exist, dealing with Vladimir would mean you had to construct something similar.
I didn’t really know how to finish this until I came across this very sweet love letter to the British people. It has a picture of a unicorn. I can only agree. I hope the Brits vote remain.