On Thursday, June 23, 2016, citizens of the United Kingdom will vote on whether or not to remain part of the European Union. The United Kingdom’s membership of the EU was achieved in several discreet although ultimately orchestrated stages. Since the formation of the European Economic Community in 1958 which later morphed into the European Union itself in 1993, the entire scheme has seen ever deepening integration and interdependence between an increasing number of member countries, with the UK itself joining in 1973. Its restlessly expansive aims and ambitions were divisive then and they remain so today, arguably more than ever.
The campaign to remain within the European Union, the imaginatively titled Remain campaign, cite reams and rafts of beneficial EU legislation which over the years has simultaneously helped protect the rights of workers, consumers, business, minorities, and the environment, as well as preserving peace within Europe’s borders. Their efforts, however, dubbed ‘Project Fear’ by those who would quit the EU – the so-called Brexit campaign – have been marked by a distinct lack of hard facts and figures to assist the voting public in making what the Remain camp continually insist will be a momentous and strictly once-in-a-lifetime decision. As the day of reckoning draws ever closer, Remain – or Bremain if you prefer – have also indulged in blatant scaremongering with dire warnings of impending doom ranging from giant mosquito invasions to nothing less than World War III.
Meanwhile, the aforementioned Brexit campaign argues that, whatever the intent of the EU’s founding fathers, it has metastasised into a corrupt and unaccountable cabal of control freaks and gravy train grifters. The Leave campaign have a veritable laundry list of gripes including but by no means limited to areas such as farming, fisheries, immigration, national security, international trade, and the shape of bananas. We read in the UK news just today, for example, the provocative headline ‘EU postpones toaster and kettle crackdown until after Brexit vote.’ Forget ISIS, Al Queda, and North Korea, surely this is the stuff of World War III? At the hands of Bremain, therefore, Brexiteers are branded as ignorant, inward-looking, xenophobic little-Englanders, even if they happen to live in Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland.
As things stand, however, no matter what the preferences or prejudices of individuals and institutions with an interest in the outcome, the remit, regulatory reach, and sheer size of European Union bureaucracies and their combined budgets have ballooned since the nascent days of what was always a political project. Something, it would seem, simply has to give. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not even on June 23, but soon, and the aftermath may prove impossible to predict.
Previous interviews with Andy Duncan:
Democracy – The God That Failed
The Myths and Mysteries of Modern Money
Independence for Scotland?
The Alternative 2015 UK Election Special
A Greek Tragedy: Bankers, Bailouts and Bureaucracy