How sad it is to see England out

Despite the brilliant performance against Uruguay, England is out of the World Rugby Cup.

I watched the matches, I urged them on, I wished for victory. It did not help. England is out with the rest of the home counties in:

Ireland Scotland Wales IN Rugby Cup England OUT 7Oct15

How sad it is to see England out. How frustrated I was … and I started thinking about England and her position in the rugby world and her position in the world at large.

From which my mind jumped to what a map of British Isles map could look like after the EU referendum:

Ireland Scotland Wales in the EU England OUT 7Oct15

If the UK is going to leave the EU it will be predominantly due to the English votes. The Scots already declared an intention to stay IN. Wales is relying on EU development funds more than any other region in the UK, they will want to stay IN; Ireland will jump at the chance to unite under the EU flag. England will be OUT.

It was bad enough to see England out of World Rugby Cup. With England out of the EU and the rest vying to stay in the EU, the frustration, the sadness, the disappointment, the cost – all that would be immeasurably higher. (Just being out of World cup meant that a billion pounds was lost. Don’t ask me how they calculated it. But if you needed proof that being out bears cost this is it.)

To see England OUT of the UK is unbearable. The Kingdom will be disunited.

Surely we are better together? Surely better together was not just an empty slogan for Scottish referendum? Surely better together has a universal value?

Today (Monday 12 October 2015) the IN campaign kick off was reported by media as the official start of the EU referendum campaign. Let us not watch from the sidelines or from the TV sofa. Please sign in to the party EU Referendum campaign website and  sign the petition

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We’ve got a lot of catching up to do. We do not want to see England out. It would be a disaster.

* George Smid was the Liberal Democrat candidate in South Holland and the Deepings in 2015. He is a member of the East Midlands Regional Executive, the English Council Executive and is a former European candidate

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34 Comments

  • Eddie Sammon 12th Oct '15 - 5:29pm

    Preventing the break-up of the UK is the strongest argument the IN campaign have, in my opinion. It makes the whole idea a non-starter. I joined the official in campaign today – http://www.strongerin.co.uk. I did this because as much as I want the EU to be reformed I’m annoyed that we are having a referendum in the first place.

    Having said that, you’ll never get me saying the reason we should stay in is because of “solidarity” or “liberalism” or other such concepts. The reason to stay in is because it is in our national interest.

  • “Surely better together was not just an empty slogan for Scottish referendum? Surely better together has a universal value?”

    Really? I thought it was exactly that kind of empty slogan. And given what a cool reception it got in Scotland lots of people seem to agree with me.

    No, “better together” is not universal. It’s a nice set of words that are unconnected to reality. Would Northern Ireland and the Republic be better together? India and Pakistan? Was Yugoslavia better together?

    The world is more complicated than this. If you want to explain why the UK and the EU are better together you have to make augments that are actually about those two things.

  • jedibeeftrix 12th Oct '15 - 7:25pm

    “Surely better together was not just an empty slogan for Scottish referendum? Surely better together has a universal value?”

    It is the opposite of a universal value.

    It is a determination of who ‘we’ are. That is the point.

    The scots were asked if they were British, we are all being asked if we are EUropean, with a common destiny to be managed by common governance.

    I am British, I am not EUropean. There is no paradox here.

  • Little Jackie Paper 12th Oct '15 - 7:31pm

    You should have watched the Rugby League instead Mr Smid. That would have taken your mind off things for a bit.

  • Neil Sandison 12th Oct '15 - 7:37pm

    You could come to the most internationalist town in the midlands and enjoy the tournament regardless of who you support and learn some more about the fantastic history of the game and its birth place ,Of you know I mean Rugby .good transport links and a warm welcome for visitors.

  • jedibeeftrix 12th Oct '15 - 7:52pm

    just to highight the difference between being a European and a EUROpean:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11926834/Brussels-orders-Spain-to-re-write-national-budget-demanding-more-cuts.html

    My concern, and the reason I support the renegotiation, is that the the period of 2010 – 2020 is rapidly seeing the morphing of EUropean nations into EUROpean ones as fiscal and political integration accelerates in response to the Great Meltdown.

    It is not a sustainable position for a nation-state that eschews euro-federalism.

  • Mostly agree with the political bit, Mr Smid…… but oddly, England out of the world cup doesn’t seem that much of a tragedy in East Lothian…….. in fact it seems…………………. !! smirk !!

  • @David Raw:

    “Looks at World Cup. Doesn’t see Scotland’s name on it.”

  • Little Jackie Paper 12th Oct '15 - 8:43pm

    jedibeeftrix – I share your analysis, but I reach an entirely different conclusion. Upto the Euro I could (just) have made the argument that what we had was the same as in 1975. Once we start having EU IN/EZ OUT alongside the Eurozone decision-making structure, it is simply not the same thing. What one makes of the EZ I will leave to others. But the point I make here is that EU IN/EZ OUT is starting to look like a status that isn’t worth much.

    On 1st January 2019 Romania will move to the EZ from the EU IN/EZ OUT group and of the others only the UK and Denmark have an opt-out from the euro. Sweden knocked it back in a referendum and Bulgaria are blowing hot and cold treaty notwithstanding. The basic point is that at most this will be, come the mid 2020s 4 of 28 representing maybe 10% of the EU population. I have no idea what sort of renegotiation will accommodate EU IN/EZ OUT long-term.

    The other possibility (perhaps) is EU expansion, but I see no reason to assume that possible accession countries would want to be EZ OUT. Plus more EU countries would mean selling more free movement to the voters to prop up a small club of OUTs. Good luck selling full-blown free movement with Albania, Turkey and Ukraine any time soon.

    Any renegotiation Cameron comes up with has a shelf-life probably of about five years before it is out of date. To my mind the real question in this referendum is what (if any) value EU IN/EZ OUT status has. Renegotiation probably isn’t going to change anything so we might as well drop the pretence and have the referendum as is.

  • Tsar Nicholas 12th Oct '15 - 9:04pm

    Wales will not vote differently to England. In the 2014 Euro-elections for example (which should have been a wake up call for Lib Dems ) UKIP were only 2% behind Labour on 28% and 30% respectively. The most pro-European parties, Plaid Cymru and the Lib Dems, got about 15% and 4% respectively.

    It is a myth that Wales has a different view on Europe to England.

  • Ireland will jump at the chance to unite under the EU flag

    You what?!?!?

  • Denis Loretto 13th Oct '15 - 10:38am

    Surely the only proper choice for disappointed English rugby fans is to support Ireland. Injury-torn we may be but the heart is strong!

    More seriously I must support the reaction from Bim to the assertion ” Ireland will jump at the chance to unite under the EU flag”. It’s far worse than that. In general Northern Ireland’s Unionists are anti EU. So like for most other things the age-old community divide will come into play. If BREXIT occurs the UK (or what’s left of it) will be faced with a nationalist resurgence in the province which will in turn trigger a loyalist reaction (sound familiar?) and the UK will feel in honour bound to defend the right of the pro-union majority as it has done over the years. Therefore Northern Ireland will stay at least for some considerable further period a part of the UK, even a UK truncated by the loss of Scotland. Given that one of the main drivers of the UK flight from the EU would be fear of mass immigration it would be out of the question to allow the (now virtually non-existent) land border in Ireland to be a soft entry point from EU to UK. Therefore the Irish border would have to be fortified and rigorously policed. This would further exacerbate sectarian dispute and probably violence.

    The Irish situation is one of the major arguments the Remain side must use to combat the folly British exit from the EU would mean.

  • @ TCO and Ian Sanderson……………. Great posts appreciated….. You must forgive an exiled Yorkshireman from Huddersfield living in Scotland always being on the side of the underdog – hence loyalty to the Liberals and, of course, HTAFC (who produced Denis Law and Ray Wilson).

    As for TCO, yes, England won the World Cup (once) in 1966, but in 1967 Denis and his mates beat Ray and his mates 3-2 at Wembley…… back in 1928 Scotland won 5-1 at Wembley when Alex Jackson of HTAFC scored a hat-trick against an England team with four of his HTAFC team mates in it, and….. in 1906, the Libs won nearly every Scottish seat to form a great government with a Scottish PM (followed by Squiff from Hudders as PM who represented East Fife).

    Yes, we’re better together, especially the Scots and the Yorkies, but it’s great fun kicking bits out of each other !!

  • @David Raw “As for TCO, yes, England won the World Cup (once) in 1966, but in 1967 Denis and his mates beat Ray and his mates 3-2 at Wembley”

    No-one’s interested in football – I’m talking about 2003.

  • @ TCO Ah,…. you mean that recent innovation England won once with a last minute goal ! As I understand, it has been won six times by countries with much smaller populations than England and by England once.

    On the subject of the Calcutta Cup (1879) … England has won just over half of the 119 matches, and Scotland has won around one third. Given the English population is ten times bigger than Scotland…. under any system of Liberal Democratic PR Scotland clearly emerges as by far the best of the two nations per head of population. Nuff said.

  • Given that one of the main drivers of the UK flight from the EU would be fear of mass immigration it would be out of the question to allow the (now virtually non-existent) land border in Ireland to be a soft entry point from EU to UK. Therefore the Irish border would have to be fortified and rigorously policed

    No, this is not true, because the Republic is not in the Schengen zone. The Republic and the UK operate as a common travel area separate from Schengen; what would actually happen, in the even of a UK exit, is that the Northern Ireland / Republic border would remain ‘soft’, but that the Republic’s government, under pressure from Westminster, would be forced to make its border checks at ports and airports with Schengen connections as strict as those on the mainland.

  • I am a Scot living in London and I support an Independent Scotland I am also pro EU but I will be voting no to the EU why you ask it’s simple if Scotland votes yes to stay and England votes no to leave this will trigger an automatic Scottish Referendum for Independence I think that all Scots living in other parts of the UK outside of Scotland who support Scotland’s Independence will probably do likewise .

  • ‘The Republic and the UK operate as a common travel area separate from Schengen’

    (This is why, for example, when you fly to London from Dublin, you don’t go through passport control at the airport; but when you fly from Paris to London, you do. There is no difference, in border terms, between travelling to London from Berlin and travelling to London from New York; but there is a different between travelling from Shiphol and travelling from Shannon. I would expect that situation to remain unchanged in the event of Britain withdrawing from the EU: the Republic would continue to be a special case, and the EU countries would continue to be treated as the same as the rest of the world, exactly as now and exactly as it was before Britain and the Republic joined the EC in 1973. )

  • Richard Underhill 13th Oct '15 - 3:15pm

    Dav 13th Oct ’15 – 3:04pm The Common Travel Area is bigger than the UK and the Irish Republic.
    http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/moving_country/moving_abroad/freedom_of_movement_within_the_eu/common_travel_area_between_ireland_and_the_uk.html

  • The Common Travel Area is bigger than the UK and the Irish Republic

    Yes, it includes the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man too, but I don’t see how that is relevant, which is why I didn’t mention it. The point is that the border checks which would otherwise be done at the Republic/NI border are currently done on entry to the Republic from the EU, and there’s no reason for that to change were the UK to leave the EU.

    The Republic is simply not, if the UK leaves the EU, going to suddenly abandon the common travel area and join Schengen instead. Not going to happen.

  • J George SMID 13th Oct '15 - 3:27pm

    My response to better together, UK split as a result of referendum, the IN and OUT argument.

    Better together: I take your points about formerly united countries ‘splitting’. I was in Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia when it happened. Interestingly, the reason for ‘splitting’ is that the cost of the split is offset largely by joining a bigger group (EU). Also, look at the rise and rise of various bigger and bigger trading blocks ASEAN, NAFTA, TFTA etc.

    UK split: I look at the various polls available. The ones which show the UK regions show significantly more support for the EU from Wales, Scotland and Northern Island. The last pole I looked at is from September – http://www.fsb.org.uk/News.aspx?loc=firstvoice&rec=10056

    The IN and OUT argument based on ‘renegotiations’. I agree ‘renegotiations’ are insignificant in the long term. If the EU showed anything last year, it is the speed with which it can change and adapt. The EU after the credit crunch was different to the EU before the financial collapse, the EU before the Greek crises was different from the EU after the crises, and now the EU is changing in front of our eyes because of the refugees coming in. So all we can be sure of is that the EU will look differently in 12 months from the referendum. But somehow the Conservatives like it. It is an internal party (Tory) matter unfortunately.

  • The Common Travel Area is bigger than the UK and the Irish Republic

    I also would expect, in the regrettable circumstance that the UK ‘s leaving the EU caused the break-up of the Union, that an independent Scotland would join the common travel area in preference to joining Schengen (as, given they have no land borders with other Schengen countries but do have a land border with England, it would be stupid for them to do anything else: they wouldn’t gain anything from being in Schengen, but they would incur the costs of having to impose border checks on people travelling from England and northern Ireland to Scotland).

  • Will, you’re playing silly games with the most important question put to referendum in this country since the 1970s. You won’t trigger an automatic referendum, you’ll trigger an automatic whirlwind of acrimony and that will benefit nobody.

    Dav, you’re telling us that the Irish Republic will bow to pressure from Westminster? There’s a fairly significant centenary coming up early next year that I would recommend you think on briefly. It is tangentially relevant to the purpose of the European project itself.

  • @David Raw “As I understand, it has been won six times by countries with much smaller populations than England and by England once.”

    And how many times by Scotland?

  • Dav, you’re telling us that the Irish Republic will bow to pressure from Westminster?

    Yes, obviously. That’s how it works now: the Republic is required to follow changes in UK immigration policy. Not legally, of course, there’s no treaty, but as a matter of policy.

    The Republic does most of its business with the UK. A large part of the Republic’s economic activity involves foreign companies putting their European headquarters there because they can simultaneously take advantage of the easy access to the much larger UK market, while paying the much lower business taxes of the Republic.

    If border controls were re-imposed by the UK the effect on the Irish economy would be severe, possibly crippling.

    So the Irish government is not going to do anything which would require the re-imposition of those controls, like joining Schengen. It would be economically suicidal of them to do so.

  • Little Jackie Paper 13th Oct '15 - 8:36pm

    jedibeeftrix – to be honest I’ve never really understood quite what, ‘ending “ever closer union,”‘ really means outside of talkboard repartee. That being said, I’d imagine some concept of an end to ECU that includes some sort of retrospective option for others to opt out of the euro (and perhaps Schengen) is probably high on Cameron’s wish-list. That, in theory at least would bolster the EU IN/EZ OUT group.

    Problem with that is that I don’t see that it would solve anything. I can’t see a queue forming to move to the EU IN/EZ OUT group. There’s no guarantee that EU expansion would do anything other than create more EZ ins and we still have all the heat that comes from free movement and all the other less popular aspects of the EU. Some sort of restatement of the present opt-outs might not be a bad compromise – but again I don’t really see it as substantive progress.

    To an extent my own feeling is that the problems the UK has with the EU are a symptom, not a cause. The root cause is that supranationalism too often has been an open-ended agreement binding forever. Every criticism of the EU could be made to some degree of NATO, IMF, UN and so on. Leaving the EU would do little to resolve the fundamental problem of open-ended supranationalism that is plainly not regarded by a significant number of people as being in their interests.

    The basic question for the here-and-now is how viable into the long term is EU IN/EZ OUT status. I’m yet to hear a compelling argument in either direction. But I suspect that those of us who are EU-agnostics would be interested to hear it from the respective campaigns.

  • @T-J “Will, you’re playing silly games with the most important question put to referendum in this country since the 1970s. ”
    When somebody else has a different point of view I would have thought that it is to respected and therefore I don’t classify it as silly games, I think that you could see what I said could happen and that you are fearful of it happening which if it did is democracy so I advise you to chill out and wait and see.

  • Dav, geography has always been Ireland’s curse, really. Of course, England could impose such economic ‘suicide’ on Ireland. But that would be a kind of geopolitical suicide for the UK. Telling Ireland to choose between mutually exclusive UK and European markets is after all merely offering them two different methods of forced suicide. Fortunately for our neighbours, we aren’t living in 1845 anymore, and if they’ve any sense they’ll diversify their exports and cash in on all the investors and domicile-seekers who will be wanting a nice, tax friendly and English speaking base for their operations aimed at the much larger EU market.

    Will, conclusions should be slowly built up, not leapt towards. I voted for independence, would do so again, but regard pushing in England for an Out vote on grounds of supporting Europe but opposing the UK to be irresponsible and actually quite petty. England is of course still my country and I would prefer not to watch it put itself through two decades of sustained self harm, egged on by bitterness. And Scotland would not be immune from the knock on effects, if self interest is all that motivates us now.

  • Northern Ireland didn’t have a team in the rugby world cup finals, there was one team from the whole island.
    This is why we Celts get tetchy!

  • Of course, England could impose such economic ‘suicide’ on Ireland. But that would be a kind of geopolitical suicide for the UK. Telling Ireland to choose between mutually exclusive UK and European markets is after all merely offering them two different methods of forced suicide

    Well, my very point is that they wouldn’t impose it on the Republic.

    If the UK leaves the EU, there is no reason why the current arrangement, of the Republic in the EU but not in Schengen, instead in a common travel area with the (now-independent) UK, and administering border checks on that basis, could nto continue.

    Such an arrangement would be so obviously to the benefit of both the Republic (which would then be in an enviable position to attract foreign investment, as it would offer both the advantages of being in the EU and easy access to the UK, as well as its, ahem, competitive business tax rates) and the UK (which wouldn’t have to either fortify the Northern Ireland / Republic border, or alienate the Unionists by imposing border controls on flights and ferries from Northern Ireland to the mainland) that it is hard to see why either would not try their best to makeit work.

    So the idea that the UK leaving the EU would lead to the need to fortify the Northern Ireland / Republic land border, is totally wrong. If the UK leaves the EU, I would fully expect the current arrangements vis-a-vis the Republic to stay in place. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t, and every incentive on all sides to ensure that they do.

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