Republic of Ireland, Brexit and the EU Elections

A few weeks ago, I visited Dublin for the first time. The Republic of Ireland is a wonderful place. During my trip, I’ve learnt about the symbolism of the Irish flag. I visited the Society and State exhibition at Dublin Castle, which was truly fascinating! I now feel much stronger connected with the country, its culture, people, and at times very difficult history.

However, during my short stay in the capital, I immediately noticed a huge difference; the city was full of posters in relation to the upcoming European Elections. In contrast, in Britain, we spoke very little about these elections, which in my view, will have a major impact on the “European project” and the direction of the EU as a whole.

Apart from the Green and Liberal Democrats and of course the Reform Party, I am still surprised that the major “political powers” are avoiding discussing the B word. Yes, I get it, we left the EU. We can all agree that, with a bit of sarcasm, the journey has been a successful one! We have regained sovereignty, we are able to control our borders and the net migration has been reduced to tens of thousands…The current government produced 5 manifestos in the last few years. In all honesty, they have really badly let down the country, its people and the society as a whole.

Our politicians must realise that the relationship with our closest neighbours should be embedded in their policies. Every single subject that has been discussed at various national debates needs to be looked at also from the European perspective; immigration, employment, high and low-skilled economy. All of it is so closely interconnected. The most recent figures; NO growth in April, the NHS waiting list went up to 7.57 million people. Scary stuff. Would re-joining the EU help to address all of these issues? No, however it is impossible to square some of it without talking about it. I simply don’t buy the rhetoric of people like Mr Farage, who claims that the county must reduce the immigration to zero. Some of these promises are simply unachievable and unworkable.

We spoke about it so many times…and it seems like we are – still – hitting a brick wall. Yes, we need to protect our borders. Yes, we need to make sure that we know who is coming in and who is going out. However, how can we fill all the vacancies in the agriculture, health and social care sector? How on earth can we train thousands of GP’s or teachers in such a short period of time, if we were to follow the direction of travel from the Conservative or Reform Parties? I actually take it personally. Am I really a burden? I have always worked, I always tried to integrate and enhance my local neighbourhood by being an active member of my community. I know; no one is talking about “shipping away” the settled migrants, however the comments and suggestions that we, EU citizens in the UK, are part of the problem, and not often a solution, are for the birds.

The GE in the UK as well as the European Elections across are quite critical. There has been, clearly, a shift towards the right in many European countries and I wonder how this will impact the political direction of travel in Europe. Surely, the voice of the European citizens must be heard and it can’t be ignored? Maybe we need to revisit the way in which the EU is run? As a Pole who travelled to the UK via Croatia and Italy and has lived in the UK for last 19 years, settled in Britain, started a family, I fear that the further polarization is not fostering an opportunity for a meaningful dialogue and a platform to discuss some of the challenges that our continent and individual countries face.

However, maybe from a selfish perspective, the trip to the Republic of Ireland made me feel a bit sad. It is a shame that the UK nationals lost the ability to shape the future of the EU. I still, without a doubt, with all its strengths and weaknesses, would rather be part of the “European team”. Now, we can only observe what is happening across the sea with no real input and contribution. In some ways, it is such a shame that the UK citizens’ voice has been lost.



* Michal Siewniak is a Lib Dem activist and councillor for Handside ward, Welwyn Hatfield.

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  • Mary Fulton 15th Jun '24 - 5:43pm

    As a Scot, it particularly annoys me that my right to participate in the EU elections was taken from me despite Scotland voting decisively to remain in the EU – by 62% to 38% – which was more decisively than the country voted to remain in the UK in 2014 (by 55% to 45%).
    I look forward to the day when we can have a new vote on rejoining the EU.

  • @ Mary It should however be pointed out that Scotland had the lowest turnout of any of the four UK nations. If the Scottish non-voters had actually gone out and voted then Remain would have won.

  • Adam, I’m afraid your assertion that Scotland had the lowest turnout of the four UK nations is not the case.

    Please check again and then correct your statement.

  • Thelma Davies 15th Jun '24 - 7:46pm

    I voted remain not through any deep conviction but in the hope it might reform, but that reform to many in the party is an ever closer union. The article states how important the EU elections are, yet in another upload, there were comments that were dismissed as having no great importance for many EU citizens. One comment outlined the poor turnouts of some countries and was accused of posting right-wing tropes. Sadly, many in the party have fallen for a deeply flawed institution that would only ultimately succeed as a federation, something the British public would never accept.

  • Chris Moore 15th Jun '24 - 7:59pm

    Of course, the EU is a flawed institution. Could you kindly mention a political institution that isn’t flawed?

  • Chris Moore 15th Jun '24 - 8:01pm

    Ever closer union? I sincerely doubt there are many takers in the party for that impossible trope.

    How could ANY union be “ever closer”?

  • However, how can we fill all the vacancies in the agriculture, health and social care sector?” Well, there are really only three possibilities: 1. We train more people. 2. We steal people from countries that have invested in training their own citizens and doubtless (particularly in healthcare) need their skills just as much as we do. 3. We find ways to adapt so we can meet our needs with fewer workers per head of population in those areas.

    It astonishes me that so many LibDems unquestioningly go for option (2) without thinking through either the ethical implications of stealing skills from other countries, or what happens when the imported people grow old and require healthcare themselves. In reality, (3) is probably the only long term sustainable solution. In agriculture that may mean more automation. In healthcare that probably means getting people to live healthier lives and take more responsibility for their health, so that fewer people end up needing extensive healthcare.

  • Thelma Davies 15th Jun '24 - 9:24pm

    It has a currency. It has a Parliament. It has an anthem, a flag, it has its own foreign commissioner. The ever closer union I was referring to Chris is Eurozone membership, & Schengen, both of which are supported by many libdems. I did not say the EU is the only flawed institution. It’s adjustment to the text in the Lisbon treaty , & it’s neverendums until the correct result was reached, are just two examples of how it as an institution lost credibility amongst so many…

  • I was pleased our sister party, Fianna Fáil, did well in the Irish EU elections, going from 2 MEPs to 4.

  • Mark Frankel 16th Jun '24 - 7:42am

    Brexit has had one enormous advantage, which is to demonstrate beyond doubt the stupidity of leaving the EU. There’s a lot of anti-Brussels rhetoric from the European right-wing parties but none of them advocate actually leaving the EU.

  • Andrew Tampion 16th Jun '24 - 7:55am

    One thing that the pro EU side of the argument could do is to look at were they went wrong in arguing their case. When I was training as a lawyer I was taught that if I’ve failed to persuade someone of my case that is my fault for not making my case not their fault for not understanding it.
    I think one important aspect of the Leave vote was the failure of the Brown Government to put the Lisbon Treaty to a referendum then all of this could have been avoided. Although of course it’s possible the Lisbon Treatry would have been rejected and needed further amendmennt to make it acceptable.
    My second observation is that I agree with Lord Palmerston when he said; “We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.” In the context of the EU it is up to every member country to decide how much ever closer union that they want and nefgotiate and vote accordingly. What I see is EU Federalists constantly pushing for ever closer union without bothreing to persuade the population to the merits of this approach whilst also being open about the demerits.

  • Chris Moore 16th Jun '24 - 8:12am

    Hello Thelma,

    My surmise is that most LD members would be against Eurozone membership. A minority would be in favour.

    As you’re probably aware, there are several non-EU members of Schengen.

    “Ever closer union” sounds pure theology l to me and I don’t believe there’d be many takers within the LDs.

    I agree with your criticisms of the neverendums: but of course one exception is the most important referendum to date!

    I’d still be interested if you could draw my attention to a political institution that ISN’T flawed. After all, pointing out an institution is flawed in my view is totally superfluous. All institutions are flawed, including the EU.

    Pre-Brexit, we had decades of propaganda from the UK nationalist elite pointing out EU flaws – some real, most imaginary – and attributing most of the problems of modern Britain to EU membership. Brexit has certainly revealed how false that was.

  • Alex Macfie 16th Jun '24 - 9:54am

    @Thelma Davies: I assume you are referring to my comments. The other gentleman was repeating right-wing tropes (not directly related to the turnout issue) which I quoted back. And he appeared to be implying that low turnout in EU elections is evidence of lack of enthusiasm among voters for the EU project itself, which is nonsense. One doesn’t vote in an election because one supports the institution, one does so to influence its policies. The question is how to make voting for MEPs seem important, which it most definitely is. And on that, it was another contributor referring to people saying the European Parliament has “no great importance” in below-the-line comments in online newspapers. And as I wrote on that post, such comments should never be taken as evidence of anything.

  • Peter Martin 16th Jun '24 - 10:33am

    @ Michal,

    “…… the comments and suggestions that we, EU citizens in the UK, are part of the problem, and not often a solution, are for the birds.”

    No you’re not part of the problem. The same goes for citizens of non EU countries too.

    Freedom of movement is a fine ideal which we should all work towards, and this cannot mean just within EU borders. However the idea that the EU as a whole is any better than anyone else is also “for the birds”. Advocating for a “fortress Europe” isn’t quite the same thing.

  • Peter Martin 16th Jun '24 - 11:28am

    @ Chris Moore,

    “Pre-Brexit, we had decades of propaganda from the UK nationalist elite pointing out EU flaws – some real, most imaginary – and attributing most of the problems of modern Britain to EU membership.”

    It wasn’t just the “UK nationalist elite”. They were a bit late to the party! The Labour Movement led the No side in EEC membership referendum of 1975. There was a policy of withdrawal from the EU in the 1983 General Election. One Tony Blair was first elected to Parliament saying “a Labour Government would negotiate a withdrawal from the EEC, which has drained our natural resources and destroyed jobs”.

    “Brexit has certainly revealed how false that was.”

    As I remember no sensible person was saying “I told you so” just three years after joining the then EEC. Although there were some silly arguments saying that our problems of the time were all due to the EEC. Like the move to decimalisation which had caused prices to rise sharply.

    It will take a few more years to decide if we made the right decision. If the EU continues on its present rightward course the comparison could look quite favourable.

  • Catherine Wilson 16th Jun '24 - 12:58pm

    Andrew Tampion – yes, the remain campaign was woeful and should indeed have made a better case for staying in the EU. But the Leave campaign was full of lies – I can’t think of one thing they said that was true. Those lies were rarely challenged in the media and were repeated as truths by the tabloids. That is what won the narrow victory for Leave. The people who told those lies are still respected (by some, at least) public figures. I’m horrified that lies have become an acceptable part of the political discourse. It’s a failure in democracy.
    Peter Martin, you can see the damage that Brexit has done to many lives – the list is too long to include here – and yet you say that we don’t know what the effect of Brexit will be? Do you see the people affected by Brexit as ‘collateral damage’?
    But the country as a whole has lost out because of Brexit – financially, culturally, intellectually, and in world influence. If we were still members of the EU we could, if we wanted, be an influence against the rightward course. Contrary to Leave lies, the EU is not a dictatorship, and as members we had significant say in its’ affairs. Now, we can only watch helplessly as decisions that will affect us are made without us.

  • Alex Macfie 16th Jun '24 - 1:49pm

    … the move to decimalisation which had caused prices to rise sharply.

    Presumably due to shopkeepers sneak-hiking prices under cover of “decimalisation” (relying on consumers not being able to convert in their heads). I guess this happens whenever VAT changes as well.

  • Martin Gray 16th Jun '24 - 1:57pm

    Remain had all the main political parties by a significant margin in favour including architects of austerity Cameron & Osbourne , Bank of England, and many other establishment institutions…When you get Cameron after 6 years of austerity warning communities they’ll be worse off – just how bad does it have to get ..Those post industrial towns that voted heavily
    don’t give a fig about a seat at the big boys table rubbish – too busy trying to make ends meet to be bothered about that stuff..The EU was an irrelevance to many – anonymous Mep’s, woeful election turnouts – it just wasn’t that popular , and looking at the turnouts across the EU last week – gees, some were awful …

  • Chris Moore 16th Jun '24 - 2:49pm

    I’d agree with much of that, Martin.

    But Leave voters in those left behind towns are no better off now than pre-Brexit.

    In reality, the economic and cultural problems of those left behind are caused by societal changes that are happening throughout the developed world. They were not caused by the EU: the EU was a very decent scapegoat though.

  • Peter Martin 16th Jun '24 - 2:57pm

    @ Catherine,

    “….and yet you say that we don’t know what the effect of Brexit will be? ”

    Yes I do. If you can correctly explain how we separate the effects of Brexit from those of Covid and the Ukraine war you must have some knowledge that no-one else possesses.

    If you Google {GDP UK} you’ll also see a graph which includes France for comparison. There’s really no evidence that we’ve done any worse than they have since we voted to leave 2016.

    The evidence from French elections tells us that voters there are even more displeased with their Government than we are. The French just about scrapped all their previous political parties to keep out the far right several years ago. It would be hard to imagine that happening here.

  • Peter Martin 16th Jun '24 - 3:06pm

    @ Alex,

    You’ve misunderstood.

    I said that said saying decimalisation, supposedly insisted upon by the EEC, caused higher inflation was a silly argument but it was commonly believed at the time.

  • Catherine Wilson 16th Jun '24 - 3:17pm

    Martin – Nothing to say about the ordinary people who have lost out because of Brexit? Nothing to say about the rise in the cost of living, affecting the poorest most, that Brexit has contributed to? Nothing to say about the lies that Leave told?
    You are talking about the perception of the importance of the EU in our lives. I am talking about the reality.
    The big boys table that you despise does, like it or not, make decisions that impact on us all. Try living through the next World War, then tell me whether or not the decisions made at the top table affect everyone, no matter how politically disengaged.

  • Peter Martin 16th Jun '24 - 4:24pm

    @ Catherine,

    “But the Leave campaign was full of lies”

    There wasn’t just one Leave campaign. There was the one you are familiar with but there was another that was rather less well known. It was part of Lexit.

    I’m with Yanis Varoufakis who writes that Brexit was the right decision made for the wrong reasons.

    “Brown thus became the unwitting enabler of Merkel’s penchant for kicking the can down the road. By keeping the UK out of the euro, he permitted Germany to continue resisting federation while ensuring that Brexit remained a relatively low-cost option for the British.”

  • @ Peter Martin. Whatever was “supposed at the time”, decimalisation was the product of the Halsbury Committee……… set up in 1961 long before British accession.

  • Jenny Barnes 16th Jun '24 - 5:00pm

    ” If you can correctly explain how we separate the effects of Brexit from those of Covid and the Ukraine war”

    It may not be possible to separate all these things. But we can certainly attribute border checks, the loss of free movement into Europe for UK citizens (and vv), and increased paperwork for goods being bought and sold between the UK & EU.
    We can probably ascribe Long Covid and some of the NHS waiting list to the epidemic,
    and some increases in domestic energy costs to the Ukraine war.
    With more time, it would probably be possible to disentangle even more.

  • Andrew Tampion 16th Jun '24 - 5:09pm

    Catherine Wilson:
    First saying that the Remain campaign didn’t argue the case for remaining very well before immediately attacking the Leave campaign for telling lies doesn’t strike me as a good example of taking responsibility for Remainers failures.
    Second my example, whether you agree with it or not, was not from the Referendum campaign but from 8 years previously. I remember the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. It was clear to me at the time and I believe to anyone not wearing EU tinteed spectacles that there was considerable opposition to Lisbon amongst the public. Failure to put the Lisbon Treaty to a referendum vote undermined the EU and subsequently the 2016 Referendum. I believe that had a referendum on Lisbon been held and the vote been to ratify it then most people who voted against would have accepted the result. My evidence is the number of Remain voters, of whom I am one, who have told me that had there been a referendum to ratify the deal the would have voted Leave because they felt that the Leave vote won fairly and that it was therefore important not to seek to overturn it.

  • Andrew Tampion 16th Jun '24 - 5:09pm

    Turning to the Leave campaigns alleged lies. Could you enumerate any rather than just asserting that lies were told as if that were self evident. I repeat I was a Renmain voter and I think Leave won fairly. If I think differently I respect your right to believe that but don’t agree with you.
    To anticipate I assume you include the £350 Billion on a Bus. So the figure was £200 Billion or whatever. Do you really think that would have made a difference. Further, as I understand it £350 billion was correct. The Thatcher scheme which reduced it was a retrospective scheme working in arrears so that if the UK qualified for a reduction of say £100 billion in 2016/17 that would be deducted in 2017/18. So its a bit more complicated than is sometimes made out.

  • Ex-LD Leeds 16th Jun '24 - 6:27pm

    Turkey was going to join the EU by 2020.

  • Peter Chambers 16th Jun '24 - 8:31pm

    @Andrew Tampion
    > To anticipate I assume you include the £350 Billion on a Bus. So the figure was £200 Billion or whatever. Do you really think that would have made a difference. Further, as I understand it £350 billion was correct.
    Off by a factor of 1000x !
    You are a bot, and I claim my £5.

  • Alex Macfie 16th Jun '24 - 9:36pm

    @Andrew Tampion: I find the idea that voters would vote in line with the outcome of a previous vote extremely fanciful. I mean, does anyone seriously say they’re going to vote Tory on 4 July because it’s “important not to seek to overturn” the 2019 result? Voters look to the future rather than the past, i.e. on how they want things to look based on what has happened *since* the previous vote.

  • Andrew Tampion 17th Jun '24 - 7:07am

    Mr Chambers. Is that the best you can do? If so I think you’re more likely to be a bot than me.
    Mr Macfie. I don’t know how people will vote if there is a “Rejoin” referendum. There are too many factors which are unknown. For example the period of time before such a vote, the state of the EU and the UK at that time as well as the terms of the rejoin deal. I was referring to a putative vote , advocated by the Liberal Democrats amongst others, to confirm that people still wanted to leave when the terms were known.

  • Chris Moore 17th Jun '24 - 8:19am

    In reality, the 350 trillion pounds extra per second to the NHS – as claimed highly plausibly on the bus – did not include the rebate, but worsedid not net off the various services provided by the EU, which are now provided at UK level. So the figure was really totally mendacious.

    Look, Andrew, sometimes, you just have to admit it: the 350 MILLION figure was an effective piece of propaganda, but false.

  • Peter Martin 17th Jun '24 - 9:13am

    @ Alex,

    Your point about voting for future directions is perfectly valid if previous votes have been respected.

    So we don’t have to vote Tory on the 4th because we’ve had a Tory government for the the last 4+ yrs. If we decide to have another referendum on the EU, everyone can vote as they please too because we voted to Leave in 2016 and now we’ve actually left.

    This wouldn’t have been the case in 2020.

  • Peter Martin 17th Jun '24 - 9:40am

    It probably wouldn’t have made any difference whatever the figure was on the bus providing it was a big enough number. People aren’t that good at arithmetic when large numbers are involved.

    For example if we propose Government should spend another £28bn pa on a Green Pla it sounds like a huge amount of money and voters will probably think we can’t afford it. So it gets dropped.

    It’s actually less than 1% of GDP. It’s like someone earning £30k per year, after tax, thinking they can’t afford £300 to get their car serviced.

  • Catherine Wilson 17th Jun '24 - 10:18am

    Lies told by the Leave campaign –
    We will not leave the single market or customs union
    The EU will give us the deal we want i.e. all the benefits of being a member without
    having to pay the dues or obey the rules.
    It will be the easiest deal in history
    We will have less bureaucracy.
    We will get wonderful new trade deals to replace what we’ve lost by leaving the EU
    You will be better off when we leave
    Leaving the EU will reduce immigration
    The EU is a dictatorship in which we have no say
    TBF – we did get our blue passports back as promised – but we could have had them without leaving the EU.

  • Catherine Wilson 17th Jun '24 - 10:42am

    Andrew Tampion – when I said that the Remain campaign was woeful I didn’t mean that there is not an exceedingly good case for remaining in the EU. There was and is, but it wasn’t argued well by Remain.
    When the referendum was announced I was neutral, because having arrived in this country in 1980 I knew nothing about the arguments for or against the EU. No one I knew ever complained about being a member, or mentioned the topic at all. At first the 350 mill. a week made me think perhaps we should leave. So I listened carefully to a radio 4 PM series in which listeners asked questions of the experts about all the different aspects of this complex issue. Both leave and remain were represented. I came to the conclusion we would be mad to leave, a self destructive act, and anyway I liked the ideals of the EU – peace and prosperity for all. Nothing that has happened since we left in 2020 has changed my mind – events have confirmed we should have stayed in. But it seems that our experience has changed the minds of European parties who previously thought leaving the EU was a good idea.

  • Peter Martin 17th Jun '24 - 11:30am

    @ Catherine,

    Yes the Remain campaign was woeful because they didn’t really grasp what the question of Leave or Remain meant. To them it was all about economics. The Leave side understood it was about more than that. It was a question of national identity. Who makes the laws. Who has supremacy? Westminster or Brussels?

    The question of Scottish independence, also, won’t just be decided on economics. Naturally the independence side will claim they will be better off on their own but I doubt anyone really believes that. It will be decided on whether their laws are made in London or Edinburgh.

    It won’t even make much difference that the laws will end up being pretty much the same. Those who want Edinburgh will tend to want independence. Those who think they are primarily British will want to keep the Union.

    There was just a hint of this during the EU referendum. The problem for Remain was that there weren’t enough voters identifying as European rather than British.

  • @Catherine: I’d qualify that list of ‘lies’ a bit. Some of those aren’t so much lies as predictions which ranged from the reasonable-at-the-time (will reduce immigration) to the wildly overoptimistic. Also if memory serves me correctly some of the ones you list were one-off remarks by individual Leave campaigners rather than core statements made repeatedly by the Leave campaign. The referendum campaign was truly awful on both sides, with the Leave campaign often bordering on xenophobia while the Remain campaign consistently pushed dire predictions of near-economic collapse if we Brexited – which have also turned out to be false. I’m not sure any of that invalidates the result though. As @Peter Martin says, a lot of the result is attributable to national identity: A significant proportion of the population feel a large emotional/patriotic attachment to the country and therefore wished for decisions to be made in Britain rather then Europe, even if that means a small reduction in GDP – something that even now, it seems to me most Remainers in these debates do not understand.

  • Catherine Wilson 17th Jun '24 - 1:04pm

    Peter Martin – for this Remainer it isn’t just about economics, important as they are – the people having to decide between eating and heating probably feel that economics is the most important issue for them. It is also about values and for me the EU has values that I can support. Who makes the laws? – before leaving the EU most of this country’s laws were made by the British Parliament. Brussels, despite leave misinformation, had no say in them. About ten percent of our laws were made in Brussels, and we had a part to play in making them. On some issues we had a veto, like the other members of the EU. The EU is democratic – it can be argued more democratic than Britain. Westminster had supremacy over Brussels, as proved by the fact that we could decide to leave. Being members of the EU did not take away our national identity – it enhanced it.

  • Peter Martin 17th Jun '24 - 1:57pm

    @ Catherine,

    “Westminster had supremacy over Brussels, as proved by the fact that we could decide to leave.”

    Yes. But it is the only exception -if it is actually an exception. UK law had to comply with EU law whilst we were still members of the organisation.

    Did you read Yanis Varoufakis’ article that I linked to earlier? I’ve actually made much the same point myself in saying that the decision of the UK to not join the euro was the start of the Brexit process.

    If Remainers were really as Pro EU as many would like to make out they would have fought for being in the EU 100%. No opt outs. Join Schengen. Adopt the euro.
    That was a big mistake. Instead they went along with the argument that we were getting a better deal because we didn’t have to put up with as much EU as did France and Germany.

    Damned by your own faint praise?

  • Catherine Wilson 17th Jun '24 - 2:48pm

    Peter – Some UK law had to comply with the EU laws that we helped to make – not all UK law. For the rest, we made our own laws, independent of the EU – why is that so hard for you to understand?
    I read the article you linked to. Many assertions, not many facts to back up those assertions. He implies we could only invest in AI and Green energy if we left the EU – that is not true, we could have done it while a member of the EU.
    Your last comment is silly, we had a good deal, why throw it away? No remainer says the EU is perfect, just that we were better off as a member – in many ways, not just economic. We have to cooperate with other countries, and make deals with them. Not least to address the climate emergency.
    I’m puzzled by this visceral antagonism many native Brits – not all – have for the EU. Is it a hangover from the 2nd WW? Is it a fear of foreigners? Is it a longing for Empire? I can’t make sense of it.

  • Peter Martin 18th Jun '24 - 9:05am

    @ Catherine,

    It’s all law not just some law. This is how the EU itself puts it:

    “The principle of the primacy (also referred to as ‘precedence’ or ‘supremacy’) of European Union (EU) law is based on the idea that where a conflict arises between an aspect of EU law and an aspect of law in an EU Member State (national law), EU law will prevail. ”

    Of course there is a good reason for this. There has to be one government in any country. As the EU themselves say:

    “Member States could simply allow their national laws to take precedence over primary or secondary EU legislation, and the pursuit of EU policies would become unworkable.”

    We in the UK generally don’t accept this is necessary for countries to trade freely with each other.

    There is no ” visceral antagonism”. I’m happy to visit Europe and drive a German car! If the EU wants to assume the role of government then that’s down to their citizens to decide to allow that. I doubt if they do.The EEC wasn’t perfect but most remainers could have lived with that. It was the Maastricht and Lisbon Treaties which were steps too far and have led to Brexit.

  • Andrew Tampion 19th Jun '24 - 7:28am

    Catherine Wilson
    I not going to go through your list of alleged lie because I don’t have time and in any case I’m sure that some of them are justified. But “We will not leave the single market or customs union” is not true. Please watch this interview by Andrew Neil of James McGrory in which Mr Neil demonstrates that while some Leave campaigners may have wanted to satay in the SM/CU thhat was not a claim made but many Leave campaigners and that the Open Britain’s attack video was itself “misleading”.
    Also what abouut George Osbourne’s there will be an emergency budget if we leave the EU claim.
    “No one I knew ever complained about being a member, or mentioned the topic at all.” May be that indicates that you were living in an echo chamber. Living in a leave voting const#ituency as I do I was very aware of well reasoned and thoughtful friends who voted Leave.
    As an analogy I consider myself pro Palestinian. But I try to seek out pro Isreali and pro Zionist points of view.

  • Andrew Tampion 19th Jun '24 - 7:29am

    Apologies forgot to post the video:

  • Peter Martin 19th Jun '24 - 9:09am

    “No one I knew ever complained about being a member, or mentioned the topic at all.”

    This seemed to be the experience of many Remain supporters. Didn’t they have chats at work, at the pub or with their neighbours? Didn’t they read newspapers?

    Certainly the Remain side seemed to have little idea that they could actually lose. In the Northern towns Leave posters outnumbered Remain by at least 10 to 1. At the same time the opinion polls were predicting a Remain win. It didn’t seem to add up at the time and so it proved.

  • Peter Watson 19th Jun '24 - 10:46pm

    @Peter Martin “the opinion polls were predicting a Remain win. It didn’t seem to add up at the time and so it proved.”
    My hunch was that shy Brexiters were opting for don’t know / won’t say when asked by a nice pollster what the dismal Remain campaign depicted as a choice between wanting to remain in the EU or admitting to being an ignorant racist!
    I voted Remain but bet on Brexit at 3:1 (the only bet I’ve ever made), some small consolation for what happened! 🙁

  • Peter Watson 20th Jun '24 - 12:11am

    @Chris Moore “the 350 MILLION figure was an effective piece of propaganda, but false.”
    A failure to properly address this was one of the many disappointing aspects of the Remain campaign.
    In TV debates, the number on the bus would be challenged, the rebate would be referred to, and the Remainer would sit back smugly believing they’d dismantled the lie, but the impression was left that the nett figure was still a big one with little explanation of the good things it bought us.
    This reflected the massive hole in the Remain campaign’s strategy which made a meal of the anticipated disasters arising from leaving but put relatively little effort into highlighting the benefits of being in the EU.
    I understood the appeal of a negative “project fear” approach given an assumption that voters would be change-averse when push came to shove, but I never understood why the “experts” didn’t see that it was falling short when even I could.

  • Andrew Tampion 20th Jun '24 - 7:52am

    Peter Watson: “but the impression was left that the nett figure was still a big one with little explanation of the good things it bought us.”
    That is because the nett contribution was a big figure. According to the House of Commons Library the nett figure for 2020, which was the last year was £12.6 billion whiich (assuming a 52 week year) works out at £242 million a week. If you think the other benefits of membership outweighted that fair enough. But it would be inappropriate to airily dismiss anyone who came to the opposite conclusion as obviously wrong. Also the rebate was a retrospective payment.
    Talking about the benefits. Presumably you would include freedom of movement. And that’s fair enough although again if anyone took the opposite view I think that is also a reasonable thing for someone to think. The problem was that the, economic, benefits of free movement are in the future whereas the capital costs of substantial nett immigration were and are immediate. If nett immigration is 250,000 then we have to provide extra housing, infrastructure etc. in that year and then hope that the extra economic activity will cover the cost in the future.
    If the EU had a “solidarity” fund which meant that members with nett EU immigration got, say, a 100,000 euro rebate from their contribution per immigrant to spend on providing infrastructure then that would go a long way to addressing legitimate concerns.

  • Peter Watson 20th Jun '24 - 1:39pm

    @Andrew Tampion
    I don’t disagree with you at all, and I blame the Remain and Brexit campaigns equally for the outcome of the referendum!
    Those who supported Brexit, or who were simply sceptical about EU membership, were dismissed and stigmatised, even on this liberal site, with little or no apparent acceptance of the possibility of any legitimate concerns about EU membership, let alone any attempt to understand them. Nothing was offered to those who were unhappy with the status quo, who felt left behind, or who experienced freedom of movement differently from those of us more fortunate, so it’s little wonder that change appealed.

  • Peter Martin 20th Jun '24 - 3:52pm

    @ Andrew,

    “If the EU had a “solidarity” fund which meant that members with nett EU immigration got, say, a 100,000 euro rebate from their contribution per immigrant to spend on providing infrastructure then that would go a long way to addressing legitimate concerns.”

    This is just the opposite of what needs to happen. The money should be flowing in the opposite direction to keep people in their existing locations.

    In any currency or political Union the tendency will be for workers to want to move from areas of low prosperity to higher prosperity. There will also be tendency for money to gravitate together. In the UK this is to London and the SE of England. The task of government is to push the money back out into the regions to keep people where they are and equalise the economy.

    This happens to some extent but not enough to prevent the population drift.

  • Andrew Tampion 23rd Jun '24 - 10:54am

    Peter Martin; “This is just the opposite of what needs to happen.”
    i’m not advocating a “solidarity fund” but rather pointing out that free movement had consequences that needed to be addressed and were simply ignored by the pro EU elite. Peter Watson handsomely accepts that this is at least partly true. If anything had been done to address the concerns of those who experienced freedom of movement differently, i.e. negatively, then perhaps the result would have been different.
    I agre with you that we need to reduce inequality by promoting economic growth in poorer counties. The “Globalists” who argue that there should be no borders ignore the facts that in an unequal world free movement is likely to result in negative consequences for both counties immigrants are leaving and those countries receiving the immigrants. It follows that the best way to “stop the boats” is to create a more equal world.

  • Peter Martin 23rd Jun '24 - 5:10pm

    @ Andrew,

    You seem to be somewhat contradictory on your “solidarity fund”.

    Whatever you want to call it it will mean that if someone moves to Germany from Greece, it will be the Greek government which is paying 100k euros and the German government which is receiving them.

    The problem with the eurozone is that too many euros end up in Germany already. They need to be recycled back into the rest of the eurozone economy which the ECB does by bending (some would say breaking) the rules of the EU on fiscal transfers and loans.

    Something will have to give in the end. The poorer countries end up with euro debts they can never repay. The richer countries end up with euro assets which they can never realise. Your 100k euros would simply be an addition to these.

  • Christopher Haigh 24th Jun '24 - 9:42am

    I always got the impression that freedom of movement would work better if people from the more economically active EU countries should retire when older to the lesser ones, this evening up people coming in with those going out.

  • Andrew Tampion 25th Jun '24 - 4:04pm

    Christopher Haigh. “I always got the impression that freedom of movement would work better if people from the more economically active EU countries should retire when older to the lesser ones, this evening up people coming in with those going out.”
    Unfortunately the EU members who are less economically active and therefore pooer so people are less likely to want to move to them.
    This is the problem with freedom of movement under the EU. It creates imbalances because some countries, of which the UK was one, are more attractive than others. This means that countries like the UK had difficulties with immigrants, like housing shortage and consequent price rises. Whereas countries like the former Soviet block countries had difficulties with emigrants who tended to be younger and more econimically active. In fairness the EU recognised this with the 10 year (I think) restriction on freedom of movement for former Soviet block countries.
    As a liberal I think we should have world wide not just EU freedom of movement. But I also think that with world wide levelling up this would be a disaster. Therefore we need to deal with the economic equality problem then promote freedom of movement.

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