EU referendum: PM 'makes no apology' for £9m EU leaflets
April 7, 2016 8:13 PM   Subscribe

BBC: "David Cameron has defended a government pro-EU membership campaign, amid criticism that £9m of public money is being spent on "one-sided propaganda". The PM said the government was "not neutral" in the referendum and the cost was "money well spent". The 16-page leaflets will be sent to 27 million UK homes from next week."

(Sort comments on that page by highest rated for interesting reading.)
posted by marienbad (82 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
It only costs 9 million pounds to send a mailing to every single household in the UK?! Jesus, I work in US local government and it feels like that much money would buy you maybe a few feet of sidewalk curb or a 2-second radio ad or something.
posted by threeants at 8:33 PM on April 7, 2016 [9 favorites]


I can't wait for the immigration clusterfuck if the brexit goes forward and France follows through on their threat to remove the juxtaposed controls at Calais.

Fuckwit Farage and his racist crew are for it knowing they can get rid of the Poles, Romanians and Bulgarians once and for all. Then again, Cameron just wants the EU's common market, and none of the responsibility for actually being in the EU. Nobody is in this fight altruistically. It just leaves a bad taste in the mouth when nobody is really in it for tearing down borders and advancing the proverbial brotherhood of man. They're all a den of vipers and thieves.
posted by Talez at 8:36 PM on April 7, 2016 [19 favorites]


If something is worth fighting for, it's worth fighting dirty for.
posted by um at 8:37 PM on April 7, 2016 [4 favorites]


If you sent a 16 page leaflet asking people to give you a fiver at that cost you might make a profit.
posted by solarion at 8:37 PM on April 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


I bet Brexit will be easily traceable to the start of a war within about 7 years.
posted by figurant at 8:39 PM on April 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think the EU is a clusterfuck of competing special interests, misguided idealism and cancerous bureaucracy. I also think it is a microcosm of the future, of learning how to equqte nation statehood with an increasingly interconnected planet. I also really, really like being an EU citizen, of being able to see the entire continent as my home, where I have rights and responsibilities shared with so many cultures.

I want the UK to be in there fighting like hell for the good stuff my country represents, and testing itself against the best ideas of everyone else. I detest beyond words the way the debate is being framed by the narrow interests of certain sections of the right wing and the populist mass media, and if this - oh, how British - leafleting campaign is the beginning of a decent fight back, I'm all for it.
posted by Devonian at 8:40 PM on April 7, 2016 [41 favorites]


Alle Menschen werden Brüder, but islands are different?
posted by zachlipton at 8:52 PM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


If something is worth fighting for, it's worth fighting dirty for.

Those inclined to the latter aren't known for choosing such causes.
posted by clockzero at 9:35 PM on April 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's important to recognise that although the referendum came about because of the far right groups the Tories are in bed with, the referendum does not come down to a clear cut right/left distinction. There are arguments for and against for just about every interest and I think the only thing anybody knows for sure is that it's going to be a massive shake-up if Britain leaves. In addition to the problems Devonian outlines, it really changes the deal on the Scottish referendum, since the ambiguity over Scotland's continued EU membership had they left the UK was almost certainly the deciding factor. My suspicion, being a pessimist, is that the treaties negotiated following Brexit would mean that money can cross borders just as easily as it can now and people will be able to too, so long as there is good reason to believe they will make money and even then it will be more of a hassle than it should be.

I don't think Britain will leave since it would be such a break with the status quo and most of the powers that be are against it. On the other hand, the people that want to leave the EU are really passionate and the people who want to stay are a bit 'meh'. If I was in the country I would firmly vote only if I happened to be going past the polling station anyway.

In the context of all the events in the world in the last few years it wouldn't be the biggest one, but it certainly feels like it because it affects me personally.
posted by Cassettevetes at 9:36 PM on April 7, 2016


If something is worth fighting for, it's worth fighting dirty for.

Hence the tragedy of human history.
posted by vorpal bunny at 10:17 PM on April 7, 2016 [10 favorites]


The UK government have every right to communicate their policy to its citizens. This is why there was little fuss in 1975 when the government did just that in the previous referendum.
posted by quarsan at 10:50 PM on April 7, 2016


their threat to remove the juxtaposed controls

The threat makes no sense (for what that's worth) because a) it hasn't really got anything much to do with the EU and b) it would amount to simply closing the tunnel, which can't be operated safely with non-juxtaposed controls.

I think Cameron's leaflet is a mistake; the perception of unfairness will do him more harm than the leaflet will do good.

He says people want facts, but there are no facts because we don't know what arrangements would be made after exit; we have to guess what we're voting on.
posted by Segundus at 11:37 PM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


It only costs 9 million pounds to send a mailing to every single household in the UK?! Jesus, I work in US local government and it feels like that much money would buy you maybe a few feet of sidewalk curb or a 2-second radio ad or something.

According to Wikipedia, the US has 133.9 million households. Assuming 16 pages is less than three ounces and the government can use the not-for-profit rate of 15¢ per letter, that would come out to approximately $20.085 million.

Meanwhile, the UK has about 26.5 million households and it cost $12.6 million to reach all of them.

In other words: go USA!
posted by Going To Maine at 11:46 PM on April 7, 2016


GtM: those leaflets don't print themselves.
posted by biffa at 11:55 PM on April 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


If you sent a 16 page leaflet asking people to give you a fiver at that cost you might make a profit.


When I lived in Italy years back, a hardback biography of Berlusconi arrived in the post one morning. Everybody got one.
posted by colie at 12:59 AM on April 8, 2016 [13 favorites]


As an EU citizen living in Britain since I left home: fuck this whole mess. I have zero faith that the referendum won't be knee-jerk reactionary, and I almost guarantee that a substantial portion of out voters will change their minds once the reality of dealing with the fallout from the vote actually starts. Of course, it'll be too late to matter at that point.

Fuck.
posted by Dysk at 1:12 AM on April 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


UK citizen here. I don't know anyone who feels they can vote based on any kind of real understanding of the pros and cons, or has a clue how to find these out in any way that's comprehensible to a lay person. My own view is instinctive, and I think everyone will vote that way, too. That terrifies me, since all the real noise is being made by poisonous rightwing pro-brexit voices like the Daily Mail and Telegraph. The vote here is too influenced by older people because the younger ones don't vote, and the older ones are far more likely to be anti-foreigner in any number of prejudiced, ill-informed ways that are reactions to the inflammatory headlines these paper spew out every day rather than being based on the facts. (My father in law will happily vote for the party that's destroying the very NHS that's keeping him alive, for free, right now, for example.) I'm pro-EU and I'll be interested to see how this leaflet communicates some good reasons to stay. I really hope it does, and I really hope people actually read it and stop to think for a moment.
posted by dowcrag at 1:27 AM on April 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


Basically what Devonian said. The EU is far from perfect, what with being a cobbled-together bureaucratic mess that's evolved the way it has over decades without ever being able to really adapt to the present (or the future), but it's our cobbled-together bureaucratic mess. As citizens of the EU we have so many rights and privileges that would all go out the window if our countries bailed on it.

Full disclosure: I'm a Swede living in Britain, and working in academia. If the Brexit happens I'm triple screwed: I might get kicked out of the country, I might lose my job when the sweet sweet EU funding stops sustaining British science, and my UK money will become worth much less everywhere else in the world - including wherever me and my US wife end up after getting kicked out.

Which we'll be because neither one of us earns £35k a year, which is what it costs to remain here. (Hence all the kids growing up separated from one parent...) But you know, foreigners are ruining everything and so is the EU and Britain is the greatest country on earth and will do so much better by itself!

... really, the cost and accuracy of the leaflet is the least of the Stay campaign's problems. Their main problem is that they're right, but have no clue how to translate that to a public movement - or a vote.
posted by harujion at 2:21 AM on April 8, 2016 [10 favorites]


So I know British Commonwealth citizens with the Right to Remain in UK can vote in the general elections, but can they vote in this referendum? What about non-Brit EU citizens, of which there are many (eg French, or the many folk commenting here)?
posted by the cydonian at 2:42 AM on April 8, 2016


Dutch here, and we just did a referendum (which will likely be ignored just like that one where we rejected the EU constitution).

The one thing that most surprised me were journalists on news radio stations talking to a politician one second about how this Ukraine thing would increase free trade and then without blinking switch to the next news item about truckers blocking roads in belgium - and NONE of them asking the politician "I could freely rent a truck, fill it with stuff and drive from here to italy and back before the EU got into the free trade agreements and now I can't. Would you please explain?"

But perhaps I'm just a cynical old fart.
posted by DreamerFi at 2:42 AM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


What about non-Brit EU citizens, of which there are many (eg French, or the many folk commenting here)?

We can only vote in local and MEP elections, so I would be very surprised if we're eligible to vote in the referendum.
posted by Dysk at 2:46 AM on April 8, 2016


British, Irish, and Commonwealth citizens over 18 who are resident in the UK can vote. UK nationals living abroad can vote if they have been on the electoral register in the UK in the past 15 years. Commonwealth citizens in Gibraltar can vote.

Citizens from EU countries other than Ireland, Malta, and Cyprus will not get a vote.
posted by kyrademon at 3:12 AM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think this booklet will harden opinions against the EU. I don't how many folk will switch their vote to Leave, but there will be a lot of 'fuck Cameron' going around.

I definitely think, for myself, the government should not have done this. It is so nakedly political and feels like an abuse of their position. There is a lawfully designated Remain campaign.

If something is worth fighting for, it's worth fighting dirty for.

Maybe they can keep asking til they get the answer they want.
posted by Emma May Smith at 3:21 AM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I bet Brexit will be easily traceable to the start of a war within about 7 years.

Maybe they should change the referendum question:

Do you want to remain in the EU and live in beautiful peace, or leave and die in an apocalyptic war which will surely destroy everything you love and cherish?

☐ EU
☐ Death
posted by Emma May Smith at 3:30 AM on April 8, 2016 [19 favorites]


I'm glad to hear the PM does not intend to send out 27 millions of apologies.
posted by Ashenmote at 3:37 AM on April 8, 2016


£9m is a drop in the ocean. This is a non-story.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 4:04 AM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think Cameron's leaflet is a mistake; the perception of unfairness will do him more harm than the leaflet will do good.

I'm preeeetty ssure he'd rather have to explain spending 9 mil of public funds than the whole "pa and I used offshores to take money out of the country".
posted by lmfsilva at 4:09 AM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


£9m is a drop in the ocean.

In that case I'd like to see 9 million spent on a leaflet putting the case for Brexit.
posted by colie at 4:10 AM on April 8, 2016


You can make your own at home by typing out 16 pages of angry swears plus the word "immigrants".
posted by kyrademon at 4:32 AM on April 8, 2016 [14 favorites]


What, and put the Daily Mail editors out of work?
posted by No-sword at 4:42 AM on April 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


Plenty of unions and socialists are for Brexit.
posted by colie at 4:53 AM on April 8, 2016


This leaflet such a massive own goal it leaves me wondering if Cameron's support for remaining in the EU is actually a huge charade. Could the supposed division within the Tory party be a calculated distraction to prevent better arguments for staying in the EU from getting coverage?

If we had a a stable centre left government then I think leaving the EU might be a reasonable thing to do. It is undemocratic, it is largely focused on maintaining the prosperity of Germany and similar countries at the expense of poorer and newer entrants. There are plenty of bad things about it, but "excessive" financial and human rights regulations are not two of them! Politically we've been swinging to the right for my entire conscious life from Thatcher onwards, this is the worst possible time to free our governent from the constraints of EU membership.

Staying in and pushing for reform seems the right thing to do, I think it's becoming clear to everyone that a "2-speed" Europe will in fact need to emerge. The states favouring closer integration can forge ahead, and those who want to stay out of that should be able to stay out. That'd lower the bar to entry and also lower internal resistance to expansion into countries like Turkey ("it's OK, it's just Outer Europe, not Inner Europe").
posted by foolfilment at 5:00 AM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Plenty of unions and socialists are for Brexit.

Yeah, the right wing doesn't have a monopoly on mindless xenophobia, nor do they have a monopoly on wanting to limit the choices available to others (like, say, the millions of brits that live elsewhere in the europe, or other europeans who'd like to work anywhere in europe), even if it means punching themselves in the face over and over again. But they tend to be a bit more obsessed about it.
posted by effbot at 5:36 AM on April 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Not sure if it's just my area, but we've already had multiple leaflets through from both sides delivered to the house, and there were Remain campaigners handing out leaflets outside the train station a few days ago. Doubt one more leaflet will make much difference.

HR blog Flip Chart Fairy Tales reckons there would be little impact on employment law to leaving.

My favourite economics blog Stumbling and Mumbling reckons the economic impact of Brexit would be small but negative.

The best non-right-wing case against the EU I've seen is in Peter Mair's book Ruling the Void, where he makes a plausible argument that politicians use it as a way of moving unpopular or controversial policies into a technocratic realm where they pretend to be impotent. That undermines democracy and faith in democracy.

So I think the decision for me comes down to whether the small improvements to democracy outweigh the small economic costs. I don't find it an easy decision because they're not commensurate things.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 5:39 AM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


  a hardback biography of Berlusconi arrived in the post one morning. Everybody got one

Mein Bunga?

I don't get Cameron's "oh noes stay" stance. If he'd really have wanted to stay in, why did he call the referendum? Did he accidentally send out brochures from Project Fear from the Scottish referendum?
posted by scruss at 5:40 AM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


It was a major campaign promise. He had no choice but to honour it.
posted by Optamystic at 6:05 AM on April 8, 2016


He also thought that at best they'd be in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats again and would never have to actually go through with holding it.
posted by dng at 6:34 AM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]




I wonder if this is a deliberate ploy to swing the referendum against remaining in the EU, by having the case to stay associated with a massively expensive taxpayer-funded money-grab by an unpopular prime minister associated with off-shore tax avoidance and pigs' heads (sort of akin to the ju-jitsu move that derailed electoral reform by having the Lib Dems cop the blame for university fees and then be associated with electoral reform, with the result being 2/3 of the electorate voting “fuck you, Nick Clegg” and Britain sticking with first-past-the-post, much to the relief of those with a vested interest in the stability of the status quo).
posted by acb at 6:43 AM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]




Socialist case for leaving the EU.

Leftwing and tempted by Brexit? Remember the Tories are in charge
posted by acb at 6:46 AM on April 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


☐ EU
☐ Death


Funnily enough, if the polls repeatedly showing majority public support for the reintroduction of capital punishment are correct, EU membership is the one impediment to Britain doing so immediately after the next particularly gruesome murder/sex crime.

Ironically, if a post-EU Britain was to bring back the death penalty, and to stick with hanging, they'd have to import hangmen from former British colonies like Zimbabwe or Jamaica, where the Home Office's Table of Drops is still used for calculating rope lengths.
posted by acb at 6:49 AM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


A socialist opposition to the EU from a UK perspective is utopian idealism. We're right of the EU over here. Leaving will not foster a new glorious era for workers, it will strip us of the employee and consumer protections we only have due to the EU. You know, the ones the Tories keep mentioning as a reason for leaving.
posted by Dysk at 7:04 AM on April 8, 2016 [7 favorites]




Neither the Tories or the EU give a crap about workers. Ask the Greeks.

Of course Lexit is not going to mean workers' paradise, but that's just what people say to socialists about everything.
posted by colie at 7:28 AM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


But we have very real and meaningful employment protection laws which have survived a Tory role only because of the EU. It doesn't matter whether the EU "cares" to be, so much as the direct and tangible legislative impact it has. And in the UK, that is to strengthen employee protections.
posted by Dysk at 7:32 AM on April 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


As someone who has been in the position of telling managers to fuck off with their demands on the basis of these laws, it is not academic to me. Life will get a lot worse for retail workers if and when the working time directive is repealed, for example.
posted by Dysk at 7:34 AM on April 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


Interesting that some people on here seem to think that those in favour of Brexit are mindless xenophobes.

Also, didn't the CIA say they were in favour of the UK remaining in the EU recently, as did Obama. Why is Obama sticking his nose into UK sovreign affairs? And surely we should do the exact opposite of what the CIA says - if you think otherwise maybe you should examine its record over the last 60 years.
posted by marienbad at 7:35 AM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Interesting that some people on here seem to think that those in favour of Brexit are mindless xenophobes.

In a sense, it doesn't matter whether or not you are - you're voting and advocating for an end to the only life I've ever know, for one, and many many others in similar positions. Your heart can be pure as gold, the problem for me is the same.
posted by Dysk at 7:38 AM on April 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


we have very real and meaningful employment protection laws which have survived a Tory role only because of the EU

First thing that would likely happen after Brexit would be Cameron's departure and the glorious implosion of the Tory Party.

I accept that EU working directives have been a force for good but the reality of zero hours employment in the UK, and the opt-out contracts I've had to sign for every job I've had in the last 20 years, make it less relevant to most people than the fact that the EU will always do the bidding of international finance (Greece) and imperialism (refugee crisis) first and foremost.
posted by colie at 7:51 AM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Votum für / votez pour / Гласувай за / glasati za / ψηφίζω για / hlasovat pro / Stem på / Hääletage / äänestää / votez pour / Votum für / ψηφίζω για / szavaz rá / vótáil do / voto per / balso par / balsuoti už / votez pour / vot għall / stem voor / głosować na / vote para / vot pentru / voliť za / Glasuj za / vota por / rösta på / vote for ... quidnunc kid!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 7:57 AM on April 8, 2016 [10 favorites]


And surely we should do the exact opposite of what the CIA says

The CIA is indisputably in favor of the sun continuing to exist.

Ergo, we must destroy the sun! C'mon, put your backs into it lads!
posted by aramaic at 8:14 AM on April 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


Interesting that some people on here seem to think that those in favour of Brexit are mindless xenophobes.

You know, us foreigners also read British media. But to make things a bit more concrete, I dug up some random brexit org and checked their list of top reasons why the UK should leave; let me paraphrase and categorize:

Farming -- "we were pretty good at agriculture in the 17th century, and then we invented the steam engine" (category: who needs foreigners)

Fishing -- "coordinating things that affect all of Europe at a European level means that I have to listen to others that may be affected by my decisions" (category: fucking foreigners)

Economy -- "a British economist doesn't like the euro" (category: not sure, to be honest)

Sovereignty -- "EU's executive body consists of people chosen by democratically elected representatives from both the UK and other countries, which is clearly undemocratic" (category: I have no idea how my own government works)

Jobs -- "the experts say the open market generates millions of jobs, but I haven't seen any proof" (category: fucking experts maybe, not 100% sure so I'll put this in the "not sure" category)

Trade -- "despite being richer than the EU average, we contribute more money to the shared budget than we get back, and that's not fair at all" (category: fucking foreigners)

Immigration -- (this one's a doozy) "we only control non-EU immigration ourselves, which means that it's harder to get here from a non-EU country than an EU country, which is unfair to people who are more like me but happen to be from non-EU countries; also, they took our jerbs" (category: fucking foreigners)

So four "fucking foreigners", one "I have no idea how anything works" and two items where I cannot really tell what the argument was.
posted by effbot at 8:28 AM on April 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'd love a scenario that wrecked the financial industry there, like say :  

First, a British exist from Europe, along with a Scottish and Welsh exit from Britain, and Scotland and Wales joining the E.U. and adopting the Euro. Next, there should be enforcement of existing financial regulations to limit the now foreign English banks role in Europe. Finally, a nice financial collapse while the city is cut off from any real sources of value like say Scottish oil.

Ireland, Iceland, etc. were not collectively a big enough collapse for the world's financial regulators to learn their lesson. It'd similarly do little good if say Singapore fell. We need to witness a serious long-term financial collapse in London before things can get fixed elsewhere.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:51 AM on April 8, 2016


the reality of zero hours employment in the UK, and the opt-out contracts I've had to sign for every job I've had in the last 20 years, make it less relevant to most people than the fact that the EU will always do the bidding of international finance (Greece) and imperialism (refugee crisis) first and foremost.

I have worked in both shitty minimum wage jobs and professional jobs over the last ten years. I've never signed (even been asked to sign) any opt out or worked a 0 hours contract. I have benefited, instead, in real and concrete terms from a wide range of labour protections. The fucked up aspects of the EU are real, but they're not real for most people in the way that parental leave to look after your children is.

Left Out proponents are asking us to weigh concrete harms against nebulous benefits. I just don't see it.

Also there any many EAA workers in the UK whose lives would be disrupted and, in some cases, ruined by Brexit. The harm to those people living in and contributing this country is not something we can just handwave away.
posted by howfar at 9:48 AM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Interesting that some people on here seem to think that those in favour of Brexit are mindless xenophobes

Mostly mindless xenophobes.

Happy now?
posted by biffa at 10:27 AM on April 8, 2016


GtM: those leaflets don't print themselves.

Fair. According to the article, the per-leaflet cost is 35 pence ≈ 50 cents. So if we can keep printing costs down to 35 cents, I’ll still feel good. (I have no idea how to price this, but after futzing a bit with Printing Center USA, it seems like you can do 10,000 booklets for 19 cents/per each. HOWEVER, that itself is a 46% drop from the price for 9000 booklets, so I suspect that if you get up to the millions you'd see an even steeper discount.)
posted by Going To Maine at 11:32 AM on April 8, 2016


The best non-right-wing case against the EU I've seen is in Peter Mair's book Ruling the Void, where he makes a plausible argument that politicians use it as a way of moving unpopular or controversial policies into a technocratic realm where they pretend to be impotent. That undermines democracy and faith in democracy.

An argument that might be considerably more persuasive if we weren't talking about a country with an unelected upper house, albeit it one somewhat limited in power, that still has at least some hereditary peers.
posted by zachlipton at 11:35 AM on April 8, 2016


Funnily enough, if the polls repeatedly showing majority public support for the reintroduction of capital punishment are correct, EU membership is the one impediment to Britain doing so immediately after the next particularly gruesome murder/sex crime.

The UK abolished the death penalty before it was a member of the EU (or EEC, as it was) and in the face of continuing public support for it. Even throughout the trial and sentencing of the Moors Murderers--just months after the death penalty was removed--the government held its nerve.

Those voting for leaving the EU are in no way whatsoever voting for the reintroduction of the death penalty, and there is no direct link between one happening and the other. Just like the idea that war will be the result of leaving the EU, it is absolutely amazing that such a ridiculous argument can be seriously wheeled out. Indeed, it is more than amazing, it is indicative of the state of the Remain arguments that they're based on things that aren't going to happen.
posted by Emma May Smith at 12:44 PM on April 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


> The CIA is indisputably in favor of the sun continuing to exist.

[citation needed]

The CIA is not unaware of its night vision advantage.
posted by vbfg at 12:44 PM on April 8, 2016


£9m is a drop in the ocean. This is a non-story.

It is more than either of the two official campaigns are allowed to spend. They get £7 million each, only £600,000 of which will be public money. It is a big story and I would like to see the government rebuked by the electoral commission for seeking to subvert the referendum process.
posted by Emma May Smith at 12:52 PM on April 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


It's only the English who favor Brexit who trend towards xenophobia, biffa. If you look abroad, there are xenophobes in France, Germany, etc. who favor Brexit because they want a role model for their own desired exit, but mostly anyone who favors Brexit simply wants the English banks out of Europe.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:13 PM on April 8, 2016


> "It is a big story and I would like to see the government rebuked by the electoral commission for seeking to subvert the referendum process."

I agree, in fact.

> "Indeed, it is more than amazing, it is indicative of the state of the Remain arguments that they're based on things that aren't going to happen."

But I don't agree with this at all. Other Remains arguments in this thread have been that a Brexit will screw over immigrants to the UK (it will), screw over UK citizens living abroad (it will), harm the economy (it might very well), and harm UK workers by removing crucial labor regulations (it will). Plus there are ones that haven't even been brought up here yet, such as the likely blow to scientific research funding.

And you could just as easily say that the arguments in favor of a Brexit in this thread have included that by some unknown method it will somehow help Greece (it won't) and Syrian refugees (it won't), and will bring down the Tory government (... and if this somehow happens, to replace it with what, exactly? A coalition government with UKIP, fresh off the greatest victory it has ever seen and the most widespread popularity it has ever had?)

There are bad arguments on both sides. I find the good arguments against a Brexit much more convincing ones.
posted by kyrademon at 1:14 PM on April 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


Ireland, Iceland, etc. were not collectively a big enough collapse for the world's financial regulators to learn their lesson. It'd similarly do little good if say Singapore fell. We need to witness a serious long-term financial collapse in London before things can get fixed elsewhere.

A lot of people who do not work in finance were hurt in those collapses.
posted by Aizkolari at 1:44 PM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


I am profoundly sceptical of those who think that the way to get things sorted out is to fuck everything up really badly. It seems to rely on a faith-based view of history.
posted by howfar at 1:58 PM on April 8, 2016 [12 favorites]


It is a big story and I would like to see the government rebuked by the electoral commission for seeking to subvert the referendum process.

Given the clear historical precedent, this seems unlikely. The government is formed to make policy. Remaining in Europe is the policy objective of the government. Spending funds to achieve this objective is within the ambit of government power.

If you dislike the unchecked power of Parliament and the amorphous constitutional status of the government, I'd note that continued EU membership is a good way of constraining those things. Our constitutional clusterfuck is frequently profoundly undemocratic and wholly opposed to the rule of law. The EU is not a great boon for democracy, but it at least provides some limitation on the worst of our majoritarian excesses.
posted by howfar at 6:14 PM on April 8, 2016


imperialism (refugee crisis)

I... what? Helping refugees is imperialism now?

We need to witness a serious long-term financial collapse in London before things can get fixed elsewhere.

And just, uh, too bad for everyone outside the financial industry affected by that I guess
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:00 PM on April 8, 2016


First thing that would likely happen after Brexit would be Cameron's departure and the glorious implosion of the Tory Party.

Surely this...

Seriously though, every prediction of the final fall of the right, in the US and elsewhere, as the result of one final action that shows their ineptitude / decrepitude / internal dissension seems woefully ignorant of history and altogether naïve.
posted by dhens at 11:07 PM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


I... what? Helping refugees is imperialism now?

The EU has brokered a dirty deal with Turkey to keep them in internment camps.
posted by colie at 1:52 AM on April 9, 2016


I'd love a scenario that wrecked the financial industry there

For most of the people on this thread "there" is "here". Remember that.
posted by Grangousier at 3:15 AM on April 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


First thing that would likely happen after Brexit would be Cameron's departure and the glorious implosion of the Tory Party.

Cameron would be gone sure, but then some infighting, probably Boris getting in as the new leader and thus PM on the back of some imagined moral imperative for leading a victorious exit campaign. Giving him a three year run at stabilising the party ahead of the next general election. The Tories aren't going to split over some point of principle when there's power and money to be had. Where have you been for the last 40 years?
posted by biffa at 6:33 AM on April 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think biffa is pretty much right. My view is that Tories probably have a greater chance of winning the next election if we stay in, but that the consequences of them winning the next election (or coalition including the UKIPs) after an out vote would be utterly catastrophic, and that they'd do an additional fuckload of damage to the country in the 3 years until the next election into the bargain.

Vote what you think is best for the country, by all means, but please don't vote what you think is worst for the Tories. It's too unpredictable and too risky.
posted by howfar at 6:46 AM on April 10, 2016


Boris in 2020 might even start to look appealing if the other champion of Brexit gets some sort of fillip out of winning.
posted by biffa at 7:47 AM on April 10, 2016


Got our booklet today. Very thin. Basically says, "single market is good, don't rock the boat." Despite what I've said above, I actually do think it will have some impact on voting intentions as it is designed to scare not to inform, and that works well for the status quo. I think the obvious Leaver response will be to say that they're in favour of all the economic stuff, but not the political guff which goes with it. I'm personally very drawn between Remain and Leave, but I would vote early and often for this kind of split solution. The EU is politically broken and I want no part of that. "Ever closer union" is a complete 'mare at this point.

Given the clear historical precedent, this seems unlikely. The government is formed to make policy. Remaining in Europe is the policy objective of the government. Spending funds to achieve this objective is within the ambit of government power.

Well, if this be the case, then the government's decision to hold a referendum is clearly wrong. If the government knows it wants a given outcome then it should do that and live with the political fallout. By asking citizens to choose it is either forswearing responsibility for the outcome or showing that it has no clear policy preference. It cannot say, "we know what is right but we won't do it" without looking terribly stupid and spineless. But then in all truthfulness, Cameron's ploy to even hold this referendum was terribly stupid and spineless, so I guess that's the case.
posted by Emma May Smith at 6:15 AM on April 11, 2016


The EU is politically broken and I want no part of that.

Competely unlike the entirely democratic and representative first-past-the-post system with an unelected upper house we have here.
posted by Dysk at 8:21 AM on April 11, 2016


The UK government is accountable to the people in a way that the faceless bank-serving technocrats of Brussels are not. 99 percent of the public would be hard pressed to name a single MEP.
posted by colie at 8:54 AM on April 11, 2016


You've clearly had a very different experience of UK politics for the last fifteen years to the majority of the country.
posted by Dysk at 9:06 AM on April 11, 2016




I was referring to the idea of the UK government being (more) accountable.
posted by Dysk at 9:12 AM on April 11, 2016


But then in all truthfulness, Cameron's ploy to even hold this referendum was terribly stupid and spineless, so I guess that's the case.

Well, yes. I don't think we should be having a referendum at all. Referendums make no sense to me in a British constitutional context. Our system is based on a very careful rationing of democracy.

The UK government is accountable to the people in a way that the faceless bank-serving technocrats of Brussels are not.

Do you actually believe this? Do you actually think that the EU is cravenly bowing to the banks while the UK takes a strong line? Because that doesn't seem supported by any facts I can see. Rather, our government, entirely in thrall to the City, is one of the major forces pushing the EU towards exactly the positions you hate. Leaving the EU might cause the collapse of the UK financial services industry, but I don't think that is preferable to working to get it (and its counterparts) under control.
posted by howfar at 1:06 PM on April 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


The big flaw with the referendum is that the electorate don't know the first thing about the EU. Not even the most basic, such as being able to answer 'What's the difference between the European Council and European Commission?' The politicians are to blame as they've been blaming 'Brussels' for all their own failings for 40 years.

That's the second worst part. The worst is that we've got 69 more days of this avalanche of bullshit.
posted by quarsan at 7:16 AM on April 15, 2016


For Americans who need a primer, the Diane Rehm show just had a good episode: “What Britain’s Potential Exit From The EU Could Mean For Global Markets, The Migrant Crisis And Fighting Terrorism”
posted by Going To Maine at 3:08 PM on April 18, 2016


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