Skip to main content

This Brexit vote isn't just about the UK. It's about the whole future of Europe.

The literal meaning of the word ‘insular’ refers to back to the idea of an island. It’s perhaps hardly surprising, therefore, that the UK’s referendum campaign on membership of the EU has been insular in the broader, metaphorical sense too.

Everything is about us.

We’ll be more democratic and more sovereign and free from the shackles of bureaucracy if we leave. We’ll be stronger and less isolated and richer if we stay.

The truth is that, whatever your personal viewpoint, the UK’s decision on Thursday 23rd has ramifications way beyond our borders.

If the unthinkable happens and we vote to break away from a tariff-free market of 500 million people, what happens next in continental Europe?

The first pressure will almost certainly be on the Eurozone. Italy’s maverick Five Star Movement – which just won key mayoral contests in Rome and Turin – has already called for a vote on whether Italy should leave the single currency. Despite a period of relative calm, the underlying issues surrounding the Eurozone’s so-called ‘periphery’ have not been resolved. Greece is still an obvious flashpoint.

If the worst did come to the worst, the Greeks represent about 2% of the Eurozone economy and a Grexit could be shaken off. But the currency could not withstand the seismic shock of a default in a bigger country such as Spain. And if the political mood is to follow the UK and if voters in Milan and Rome and Naples demand a return to the Lira, there will be no hiding place. The game will be up and the edifice will be in danger of crashing down.

The reaction of more ignorant Brexiters to this scenario might well be ‘so what?’

They not only want to extricate the UK from the EU, but quite openly hope for the institution’s demise.

But such a view betrays a woeful misunderstanding of our interconnectedness. The collapse of one of the world’s leading reserve currencies would almost certainly trigger a global depression. At that point, the warnings about the financial consequences of Brexit would seem to have been hopelessly understated. Because Brexit might a domino, set off with the lightest of touches, but cascading across stock market floors around the world.

And as the currency broke up, the chances of the EU itself collapsing would become very real.

When the people of Europe retreat behind national borders, mutual suspicion and the risk of conflict will grow. Meanwhile, there will be smiles on the faces of the political leaderships in Moscow and Beijing.  When dealing with any European country individually – at the level of trade and economics, or in the realm of politics and defence – these big powers, which have so little respect for democracy, would undoubtedly hold the upper hand.

It’s a prospect that is truly horrifying. 

Could it be that Project Fear hasn’t actually been frightening enough?


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

I was sad when I quit Labour a year ago. Now, I feel a sense of relief.

What motivates decent people to stay as members of the Labour Party?
It’s a question I’ve been pondering intensely over the past year, which I’ve spent in self-imposed exile. I resigned the moment Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected as leader after the contest with Owen Smith.
When I quit, it was with a very heavy heart.
As far back as the late 1980s, I’d served as Labour General Secretary of the London NUS. By the early 90s, I was chairing Frank Dobson’s constituency party in inner London. On two occasions, I stood as a Labour parliamentary candidate.
If you make that kind of commitment, you assume it’s a relationship that will last for life. And even though I hadn’t been an activist in recent years, it never occurred to me that I’d be forced to rip up my party card. 
Today, as Labour’s 2017 conference looms, I wonder how anyone with a moderate viewpoint can kid themselves the party is even worth rescuing.
One group of centre-ground survivors falls into the category of the bloody minded. Like …

What if the whole Corbyn project is based on a lie?

If there’s one thing that scares the Corbyn movement more than anything else, it’s the emergence of a new centre-ground party.
Supporters know very well that once it arrives, the alleged ‘popularity’ of Labour’s far-left leadership would be badly exposed – in just the same way that Michael Foot’s good poll ratings disintegrated with the emergence of the SDP in the early 1980s.
When people are given a choice, many will opt for moderation.
When they lack choice – a particularly stark problem in the UK’s indefensible first-past-the-post electoral system – they tend to polarise to left and right.
For supporters of today’s Labour leadership, it’s therefore critically important to dismiss the centre ground as something which no one wants any more. As a failed ‘neo-liberal’ project, which has no relevance to 2018.
But consider the facts.
A recent BMG Research poll for The Independent found that millions of voters currently find themselves without a political home.
Many feel that the main parties …

Cult of personality? The writing's on the wall.

Nothing makes Corbynistas more angry than the suggestion there are cult-like qualities to their movement and their veneration of the man they affectionately label ‘JC’. This accusation is viewed as such a slur, in fact, that on some social media channels moderated by the far left, anyone using the term ‘cult’ is deemed to be abusive and is in danger of finding themselves banned.
The evidence – specifically a cult of personality - is, however, now so strong as to be incontrovertible.
The madness reached some kind of apogee this week with the unveiling of a mural of Corbyn on his home turf of Islington.  
Let’s be clear. Murals celebrating political figures are not a part of British culture, unless of course you count the streets of West Belfast, where the Labour Leader has built up a strong network of contacts over the years. I’m sure they are de rigueur in parts of Gaza City, where the veteran socialist MP counts yet more friends.
It’s difficult to establish who is the more idiotic.…