So Brexit happened last year with just above 51% in favor of leaving the EU, and a majority of those being 65 years of age or older. The fallout has already begun, with Scotland likely to push for a second attempt to exit GB in order to remain in the EU, and Northern Ireland isn’t expected to sit idly by while this all goes down.
What I have noticed amidst all this is that most people don’t have a clue what the EU actually is and what it does.
Ironically, Nigel Farage being the puppeteer pushing for Brexit said prior to the referendum that if the remain-side got 52% of the votes, that would be unfinished business and cause for a second referendum, until they were victorious. However, with the leave-side getting almost 52% of the votes and over 4 million people signing petitions for a new referendum, the situation is apparently a completely different one.
To add to the insanity, Jeremy Corbin dismissed a second referendum stating that “the public has clearly said no to EU”, so ~50% is apparently an avalanche victory somehow. The hypocrisy alarm is blaring.
A funny thing to note here is that the turnout was 71.8% or about 30 million people. With 4 million people signing petitions, this equates to 14% of the voters calling for a new referendum. I suppose that is the British definition of “clearly saying no”.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things I dislike about the current state of EU, but leaving is more of an anti-solution than a panacea. The key point here is that the EU is about more than just immigration. And the ridiculous £350m/week “fact” can be shot down with a simple Google search; most importantly it does not take in account the money the UK is receiving in support for farmers, scientific research, businesses and economic development.
Data protection and integrity issues
The European Union has strong data protection laws though the EU Data Protection Directive regulating how your personal information can be handled by companies and corporations, and making it more difficult for a member state to pass legislation that weakens the citizens right to privacy and integrity. In the US, all you need to find out pretty much anything about anybody is to make a search on a website. This is practically impossible in the EU, and the UK has now put their privacy in the hands of local politicians keen on voiding the protection that has previously landed strikes against Facebook, Microsoft and Google.
In this video (at about 33 minutes in), Kevin Mitnick demonstrates the lack of protection in the US and makes a point about the difference between EU. And I might sound cynical as I say this but deep inside you know I’m right: All it will take for the UK to drop to the same level as the US is for a corporation to pay their politician of choice for the legislation, if even that.
The EU already shot down Teresa May’s so called “Snooper’s Charter” for being too intrusive. 444 of 513 MPs voted in favor of this horror, which would not only force ISPs and service providers to extend their data collection to f.ex. save all e-mails sent, but also grant 48 organizations (including the Scottish Ambulance Service Board and Department for Work and Pensions) unfettered access to the collected data. It doesn’t end there tho; it also required that encryption must be weakened or even removed in order to make sure nothing gets past the surveillance net. Did you think I was talking about criminals? Nope, everybody and everything is covered, and what it really boils down to is can you trust the individuals with access to the data? History would say no.
Even more scary (if possible) is the proposed revising of the “Official Secrets Act” to make it possible to punish journalists with up to 14 years in prison for receiving leaked official documents. This would effectively make it impossible for a whistleblower to tell the UK press about anything that the government is trying to hide from the citizens. This is a direct move to stifle the freedom of press, as it goes after the recipient with scare tactics.
What do you think will happen once the UK is out of the EU and there is nobody that can tell the politicians that they are out of line? While even the US has a Whistleblower Protection Act (Public law 101-12) the UK want to go in the completely opposite direction, with a definition of rights more in line with North Korea than a modern western country. So much for democracy. To quote Bill Hicks, “You are free to do what we tell you!”
Environment- and Animal protection
The EU enforces a number of directives, including the Water Framework Directive (regulating the quality of water in in rivers, lakes, ground and coastal waters), the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive (that aims to protect habitats, species, flora and more). In addition there are directives covering air quality, acid rain, waste and noise pollution to mention a few. After Brexit, the UK will no longer have to follow these directives beyond what is covered by international treaties.
Within the EU, there currently exist bans against the trade of whale- and seal meat and related products. Although only a few countries still maintain these brutal and antiquated practices, the UK will be free to set up trade agreements for these products, for example with Canada who are more than keen to export their stockpile of sealskin (which comes from seal pups as young as two weeks of age.)
But other animal protection laws might also get sidelined, as there the UK is currently forced to comply with 44 different animal welfare laws. A number of these cover farm animals such as how they are treated and how the resulting produce is labeled, but they also cover things such as animals in zoos, animals in research, and the aforementioned seal products to name a few.
Travel, Telecom, Trade and Customs
Roaming fees are regulated within the EU. That means that if you take your mobile phone with you to another EU country, you will not be charged an arm and a leg for making or receiving phone calls or using data. But if you are British, you might consider leaving your mobile at home if you need to travel to the EU to avoid surprises.
Furthermore, passenger rights when travelling within the EU is well covered, but the European Passenger Rights will in most cases not apply to the UK. For example, if you are to hop onto a flight within the EU and the flight for some reason is delayed, the carrier would have to cover refreshments, food, accommodation (including transport to/from the hotel) and even phone calls, faxes and e-mails while you are waiting.
But then again, if you are from the UK and intend to travel to the EU, you might need to apply online and pay for a visa before visiting Europe. This would mean an approximate €60 to €99 per person beyond the usual cost of hotel, travel etc. That is assuming the UK decides not to negotiate to be a part of the European “single market”.
Membership states of the EU enjoy free trade within its boundaries. This likely means that importing/exporting goods from the UK after Brexit will get more expensive than before. For example, importing from China to Sweden requires toll fees to be paid, while importing from another EU country to Sweden would not. So buying goods from abroad will likely cost more for the UK citizen, and we are already starting to see this effect. Additionally, the cost of petrol, travel and food is expected to rise.
The UK is the number one European country when it comes to game development, with a gross value of about £40 million per month added to the UK economy by its 2000+ studios including Rockstar Games who are behind the Grand Theft Auto (GTA) series of games. In 2016, the UK games industry was worth almost £4.2 billion. A big factor behind this is grants and funding received from the EU, supporting independent and established studios. In 2015, the Creative Europe project provided €3.4m in grants to UK game studios. The project itself got a €1.46 billion budget from 2013 to 2020. Needless to say, this support will not be available to UK developers after Brexit.
It will also make it more difficult for UK studios that hire developers from outside UK borders as they have in the past. But it is likely that this won’t even matter as even if a studio would be able to afford hiring despite losing a large chunk of its founding, it has now been proposed that a penalty of £1000/year is to be paid for every non-British worker hired. And that proposal covers the whole market. Now there is a great way to torpedo your own country!
If you thought Brexit would put a halt on immigration, you’re likely wrong. Even Brexit MEP Daniel Hannan admitted this in a Daily Mail article. “The leave vote would not end freedom of movement – because the UK would have to agree to it to gain access to the single market”. And even if they decide to not be a part of the European market it might be hard to push the policy without backlash and sanctions, especially if they proceed with the legislation proposed so far.
On a closing note, what the UK should have done instead of leaving is address the issues within the EU, and work to fix the broken parts. Brexit is effectively throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There is a lot more good about the EU than the Brexit nuts want to admit, and unless something is done to revert the damage done, it will become more apparent as time pass. The Union makes Europe stronger, and even if it is not perfect, it is beneficial.
Now the UK will now have no say in the process, and while it has been announced that the UK will be treated “fairly” it will not receive the same level of privilege as the member states. If you add to that the tensions that are rising in Northern Ireland, and the possibility of Scotland going its own way, it becomes apparent Britain might not just be leaving the EU but also putting an end to the UK.
Please leave your comments below, and if I got some facts wrong let me know but please include references and not just rants and personal opinions.