Monday, 22 August 2016

The experts have spoken: we need to leave the EU

Above is a short clip of a Brexit protest earlier this year. It is instructive of how remainers think. Underlying the remain message is that democratic decisions should be deferred to experts. Creepy as that is, there are some haunting statements in it. One that has been ringing round my head all day is "We need experts to speak, And I have watched experts - people with PhD's in European law".

Indeed we do need experts to speak. The assumption here is that experts have not spoken and that they have not been heard. Professor Michael Dougan is one of those experts with PhD's in European law. His Youtube video has over half a million views. Similarly the LSE is broadcasting the opinions of Gavin Barrett, Jean Monnet Professor of European Constitutional and Economic Law in UCD Sutherland School of Law. I don't know if he has a PhD or not but we can say he has both qualification and prestige. I do not agree with either of them.

So who am I, a nonentity from Bradford with only a mediocre set of GCSE's to question such titans? I don't call myself a journalist. I am a blogger. One who has a particular tool which nobody else seems to have. You may not know this but the internet has websites called "search engines" and when you "search" for things you find a diversity of different views on a number of topics - which is quite useful when you consider the EU governs everything from fishing to human rights law. And in this I'm going to hazard a guess that the learned fellows named above couldn't tell an inshore trawler from a crab boat.

It turns out that the bodies representing the fishing industry remained largely neutral as there is broad disagreement in the industry as to whether the EU is beneficial. And thanks to Facebook I have the privilege of knowing one or two legal minds who are fundamentally at odds with eachother on the subject of human rights law. Just as an inner city Londoner may have different attitudes to immigration from someone who lives in Sheffield or Sunderland. And though they may be no economists, they are experts in their own life experiences.

In a subject as broad as a supreme government for Europe anybody is qualified to voice an opinion. Given that there is no fair or accurate means of weighting the validity of such opinions we have a little thing called democracy, where everybody gets a say. And a vast majority who had a vote used it. And a clear majority decided that the EU on balance is not in the UK's best interests.

In this we had a year long debate about it. Everybody knew there was a referendum coming. That's quite a long time to deliberate on the issues. Some had already made up their minds. We are told that those who voted to leave tended to be the older generation. But these might well be people who made up their minds more than twenty years ago. It's just taken this long to have a say.

And in this, the losers cannot say that voters were not given enough information. See, it turns out that that "search engine" thing I use is available to everybody who has the internet. Who knew?

We had all of the major corporates telling us that Brexit would be bad. We had a procession of global and national economic institutions telling us that Brexit is universally bad. The entire edifice of academia piled in to tell us Brexit would be a catastrophe. Their message was heard. Even the government got in on the act and sent its own prognostications to every household under the guise of public information.

The problem is that much of what they said was demonstrably false. Much of what they said was based on projections built on flawed models. Some of what they said was exaggeration. Some of what they said was pure fiction. In fact, thanks to that "google" website, many of us were able to conclude that even our academia was indeed lying to us. So it then became a question of which side deserved to win. An adversary of mine always said that the vote would come down to which side was despised the least.

In the end it was the remain side who crossed that finish line first. Everybody knows the Leave campaign was fraudulent. The fact is the in depth issues that form the basis of our objections to the EU can not so easily be communicated in sound-byte form and so a degree of simplification was necessary. We could not rely on empty platitudes. We had to argue our case in the chatrooms, forums and social media. And people of their own volition did precisely that and contributed to what has been one of the most comprehensive national debates in my whole lifetime.

By the time the vote was over, anybody who wanted to engage in a conversation about the issues had the opportunity. And nearly everyone I know made the effort. The ultimate truth is that the remain side lost the argument.

The public may not be experts in EU constitutional law - and in truth the majority of people have a very shallow understanding of what the EU is and how it works. But they are capable of deciding whether or not they consent to it. We are all very well aware that the EU has legal supremacy and the UK government is not the final word. So it became an far broader question as to whether the British thought they were getting a good deal. Wealthy London thought so. Everywhere else disagreed. Even Scotland's determination to remain in the EU represents a lack of faith in London's governing ability.

And so this was not a message to Brussels. Rather it was a message to Westminster. It was a notification to cease with the present trajectory and change tack. The fact we turned out in such numbers shows that this issue has even greater significance to the public than even a general election The public realised that this could well produce real change where a change of government would not. And so the baseline verdict is that the majority of the public want change - and they are willing to pay a price to get it.

Consequently, those seeking to subvert the verdict must explain why the largest exercise in democracy for a generation should be disregarded. Moreover, they must explain why clinging on to the status quo is better than change. After all growth as only limped along and the majority don't feel any better off for keeping things the way they are.

In the end though, it comes back to those original words. "We need experts to speak". Well, we are all experts on our own political views. And we know that we do not what to be governed by a supreme government for Europe that has not delivered prosperity or security. The experts have spoken. Now it is time for those experts to be obeyed.

No comments:

Post a Comment