I have stopped commenting on the referendum campaign after the awful assassination of Jo Cox, a Labour MP well known to an old acquaintance of mine. I have very strong opinions about how such a vile act could have come to pass and about how, most definitely, it is linked to the genies let out of the bottle by this referendum.
We will return to that. For now, the best tribute we can give to a murdered democrat is to be democrats.
Being a democrat means not just voting, but informing yourself before you do. That is what we all must do for Thursday.
The Leave campaign has, of course, spent the past few months deliberately misinforming us. The worst example was a leaflet put through the doors by UKIP (whom, to be clear, you effectively endorse with a Leave vote).
So a few simple questions.
They say remaining in the EU means there will be “no (UK) Parliament”. Can they provide the basis for this contention, or admit it is a lie?
They say remaining in the EU means there will be “no Royal Family”, which will be news to fellow monarchies such as the Netherlands and Sweden, no doubt. Can they admit this is also a lie?
They say remaining in the EU means the NHS will be privatised. Can they explain: a) the basis for this ludicrous contention; and b) why their own Campaign Chief Executive wants to charge for overnight hospital stays?
They say Turkey is joining the EU. Can they admit that this is a) not actually going to happen; and b) could only happen with UK Government approval?
They say the EU deprives us of being able to “elect our leaders”. Can they remind us when we elected the Head of State and the members of our Upper House (who constitute a majority in Parliament)?
They say remaining in the EU means “no British forces”. Can they explain the basis for this contention, or admit it is a lie?
They say we pay “£55 million a day” to the EU. We don’t, so let’s not even argue that. They say we could spend [the amount we do send to the EU] “on ourselves”. Can they admit that means no agricultural subsidy, no research links, no educational exchanges, no cross-border project funding and no infrastructure?
Oh yeah, and while we are on money, they say we could “do our own trade deals”, “control our own borders” and “control immigration”. Let us leave aside that the larger side always gets the best of such deals, and as part of the EU we are always part of the larger side. Can they tell us precisely how much it will cost us to administer all of that and to train people to do it? A precise figure, now…
Oh and that’s another thing – “controlling our border” also means the one with Ireland, right? So can they confirm there will be checkpoints at Newry?
Actually, you know what would be easier, let me answer the questions for us all. They are all outright lies. All Leave says is a pack of lies. And here is the reality of the world they propose:
- poverty for farmers and devastation of the entire rural economy;
- rampant austerity as money gets wasted on bureaucracy on paying for things ourselves that we used to do with 27 other countries;
- no trade deals in the near future with subsequent mass loss of jobs and collapse in government revenue;
- introduction of £20/night hospital charges to pay for bureaucracy trying (but failing) to control immigration;
- collapse of the Health Service anyway, as key staff are expelled from the country, leading to privatisation caused by UKIP not TTIP;
- collapse of infrastructure as money continues to be allocated towards training people to do complex trade deals we have been doing alongside other countries for the past 43 years but there is no European Investment Bank to provide loans for road and rail projects;
- collapse of the retail economy as sterling plummets leading to rampant inflation and tariffs get slapped on everything from cars to groceries to household appliances;
- oh, and border checkpoints at Newry.
That’s the nightmare that awaits if you vote Leave, on the Leave campaign’s own terms. And that’s why they have resorted to outright lie after outright lie.
Oh yes, and as for trade deals…
So for the economy, for public services and for stability, vote Remain. And tell your friends to as well!