There comes a time in everyone’s life when they just have to shrug their shoulders, let out an exasperated sigh and simply accept the cruel injustice of it all.
A time for reflection, political contemplation, and for the final stage of grief – acceptance. The slow realisation that you are, against all odds, on the same team as Nigel Farage and Donald Trump.
Didn’t see that one coming when I put up the Karl Marx poster.
But of course, it’s not quite as simple as that.
A Black and White Brexit
The ‘Brexit’ campaign has, thus far, been painted very black and white by both sides.
One side enjoys warning the British people that pesky Johnny Foreigner might steal their women with his swarthy charms, swiping their jobs at the same time with his damned work ethic.
The other side takes a more liberal approach. They question our morals and damn us as racists and bigots for wanting to separate from the yoke of EU imperialism.
And unfortunately, sometimes they have a point.
It’s easy to see that the main bulk of the ‘Leave’ campaign is made up of those who worry that implementing Sharia law is on the table for the next Birmingham city council meeting.
But there’s a also a sizeable – seemingly enough to swing the vote – amount of people who want to to leave the EU for the exact opposite reasons. The ‘left exit’ is asking a very simple question – why on earth would you want to be part of such a corrupt, elitist organisation such as the EU?
A Tainted Democracy
Everything written in this article must be taken with the rather salient caveat that the writer is Irish, and therefore only indirectly influenced by the outcome of the referendum.
But we Irish have our own chequered history with EU overlords. Memories of being told we were wrong to vote ‘No’ to the Lisbon Treaty are still vivid, while the ignominy of having to vote again to get the right answer is even more so.
And they call the EU a democracy, yeah?
But that wasn’t the last time the EU told a country they made the wrong choice.
When Greece voted against more austerity in a 2015 referendum, the EU punished them by lumping even harsher measures on the people, including further cuts to pensions and more tax increases. A stark warning to anyone else who thinks about stepping out of line.
Greece could have rejected austerity, just like we could have too. Yes, it would have almost certainly meant leaving the Euro and a few years of economic struggle, but ultimately it would have been worth it. It’s always darkest before the dawn, and if the end result was sovereignty over our own destiny then it’s a darkness worth weathering.
Similarly, Britain will likely face a downturn in their economic growth for a few years. But again, they will come out stronger in the end. Being a member of the EU isn’t the be-all and end-all. Just ask Iceland, Norway or Switzerland – three countries doing just fine without the help of the plutocracy above.
The ‘Remain’ camp and the ‘Leave’ camp are both using fear as their primary weapon. The reality is that no-one knows for sure what would happen if Britain left the EU.
For some barmy reason, the ‘Remain’ campaign believe that leaving would result in being completely cut-off from the rest of Europe. That doesn’t have to be the case. The campaign is running on a ‘worse-case-scenario’ agenda, but what about the ‘best-case-scenario’?
Why can’t Britain become a shining example of a modern, peaceful, liberal society free from intolerance and hate?
Take the EU’s disgraceful response to the refugee crisis.
As hundreds of thousands flee famine and war leaving all their possessions behind, Europe has become a fortress, refusing to show the slightest semblance of empathy to their plight. The problem is that the EU just doesn’t want them, and as a result, its member states are only allowed to take a tiny amount.
Britain is only taking 20,000 for example, while Ireland is only accepting 4,000 refugees. That number is shocking when you consider there are almost five million Syrians on the UN waiting list.
Imagine a country freed from the EU shackles. A country that had control over its immigration policy and could do even more to help. A country that people of all cultures could turn to in their hour of need.
The ‘Remain’ argument is that with a Conservative government, that number of refugees would shamefully decrease – but this ignores the fact that governments change.
It won’t be a Tory government forever. The Labour Party, under the stewardship of Jeremy Corbyn for example, would integrate into Europe just fine. Trade deals would be struck, immigration laws relaxed, and wars would be avoided. There is a bright future beyond the EU’s shadow.
Here in Ireland, any advances we have made have been from our own doing. It wasn’t the EU that legalised homosexuality in 1993 – it was us, the people. Just like the marriage referendum was completely our own doing. Some economists may shout about GDP and growth and unimportant financial jargon, but when it comes to people’s daily lives, the EU does very little to help the common citizen.
What did the EU do to make same-sex marriage legal?
In fact, what are the EU doing at the moment to change our draconian abortion laws? Nothing. When it comes to civil liberty, the EU doesn’t give a hoot. They will build a few nice roads, pat our Taoiseach on the head and send us some scraps from their banquet. Nothing else.
We all dream of a world without borders, don’t we? A peaceful world where people are free to express their love, practise their religion, travel where they please and live a serene life.
On the surface it may look like Britain leaving the EU is a step away from that dream, but look a little closer and you may be surprised. Exiting the EU does not have to be a return to Britain’s old, imperial ways. It could be their first move toward building a more equal, fairer society.
And that equal, fair society simply cannot exist within the tightening grip of the EU.
Rarely in life do we get a chance to rectify our mistakes, but on June 23rd Britain has that chance.
Let’s hope they take it.