EU Referendum – Making (non)sense of the opposing camps

by S.Murtas

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BoJo and Dave – rough and tough campaigning from both sides (©PA source the Mail Online)

 

Britain and the EU. In or Out? Hard one to call, even for a long-time EU admirer as I am. Though I still very much love the ideals and principles the EU has been built on, in fairness I too have been critical of the European project over the past few years, for it has become worryingly detached from the very peoples it aims to unite, morphing into a self-promoting, self-interested bureaucracy that can inspire no love, no connection, no hope for a common future.

 

But let’s get down to the point… as an external observer – one that can take no part in the final decision – I can offer a somewhat less involved point of view. In the end, comes June 23rd, the people of Britain will make their preference using common sense.

How is Bremain going to affect the process of reforms the EU desperately needs? And how will Brexit change my living standards?

Two very simple questions, which the current campaign, on both sides, is failing to address.

 

When a few days ago, I read about the “risk to peace in Europe” implications that made the compelling case, according to the PM, against leaving the EU, frankly I gasped in despair. Is David Cameron, and the In campaign, seriously thinking that this would make ordinary people vote in favour of remaining in a distant, alien EU?

Quite similarly, I could not believe my ears at Boris Johnson’s improbable comparison between the EU ultimate goal, ever-closer union, with Hitler’s (and Napoleon’s) endeavours.

Have they lost the plot? How can two consummate politicians such as Mr Cameron and Mr Johnson get tangled in such nonsensical exchange?

 

This is only the tip of the iceberg of a scaremongering strategy employed by both camps, which started escalating in the last few weeks. The typical message? Jaw-dropping (with few exceptions) on both sides:

  • the possible risks of leaving with gloomy prospects for the UK – rather than the benefits of staying – according to the Stronger In campaign;
  • claims of incontrollable immigration and the despicable interference of foreign political, economic and financial leaders and Eurozone-loving fat cats in what should be strictly a British debate – rather than how Britain can be better off out of the EU – according to the Vote Leave campaign.

We are only one step away from the protagonists starting to call each other names…

 

Is this really the type of debate ordinary people, with real problems and normal expectations, are interested in? Is the remote (leaning towards the bizarre, to be frank) possibility of war in Europe truly considered a vote-winning strategy by the In camp?

The former Mayor of London Boris Johnson turning for a few minutes into an everyday UKIPper did not do the Out side, and himself, any favour either…

 

So one conclusion seems obvious: if the two camps are trying to alienate the British public in the hope that they will not turn up at the polling stations, well, they’re spot on. Because as interested a follower of the EU referendum debate as I am, I find it hard to make sense of the two sides’ arguments.

I can’t even imagine the confusion for those burdened by the difficulties of everyday life, unwilling to assist to a debate based on remote possibilities and mismatched historical comparisons. Those people, the vast majority, that have to take a future-defining decision, but have no time for party in-fighting, political strategy, technicalities and historical academia.

 

As the days go by, and the referendum approaches, the EU debate seems to be morphing from a pro and cons discussion into a political battle. A confrontation that has the continuation (or demise) of this government at its core, rather than the permanence of the country in the EU. Effectively, the EU referendum debate has transitioned from a fact-checking process on what the European project does (and does not) for the UK and its people, to a list of consequences impossible to measure that appeal to the irrational, to the emotive side of the electorate.

Result? A referendum on the government, on the PM, a succession war that quite honestly does not serve the public interest.

 

Certainly, the British public does not deserve this sort of squabbles, which smell more and more of political positioning and opportunism.

A mature debate is urgently required, one involving all sides of the argument, with real facts and figures (not forecasts), demonstrable advantages and shortcomings of EU membership. The future prosperity of this country, and of the EU, is at stake.

 

So let’s turn this debate into one that has public service at its core. Let’s make it simple, engaging and straight to the point.

Let’s get the facts out, let’s stop with the speculation and the (im)probable, better left to the niche conference audiences of the academia.

How is Bremain going to affect the process of reforms the EU desperately needs? And how will Brexit change my living standards?

The people of Britain need simple, truthful answers to make the right decision on June 23rd, one that will have an impact on the future success of this country, and of Europe as a whole.

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