Is There A Win-Win Case In The Brexit Vote?

Brexit Euro 2016
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brexit euro 2016Isn’t it ironic that the BREXIT vote is happening in the midst of Euro 2016? With good fortune (or planning?), there are no matches on Thursday 23rd. I am not particularly fond of football, but I feel like such tournaments are the best way to get out our atavistic nationalistic tendencies. May they remain there.

I have lived two-thirds of my life in Europe. I love Europe. I love Europe for its diversity of food and language; for its culture and history; for its proximity; for having the Alps and the Mediterranean; and much more. And, yet for Europe, I believe a BREXIT Leave vote will be best. Here’s why.

BREXIT – Business Angle: Short or Long-Term?

Taking the viewpoint of businesses in the Brexit debate, I have to state that there is little incentive for the UK to bust out of Europe. Businesses in general, and the stock market, in particular, do not like uncertainty. However, those vying to Remain based on financial matters, are doing so with no better assurances than those clamouring to leave. The difference is that the Remain camp is focusing on the negative shorter-term impact, while the other (Leave) camp is more concerned about the longer-term impact.

Brexit Euro 2016

Obviously, no one knows for sure what would happen if Brexit goes through, except to say that it will cause a distinct amount of chaos. We know that there will be a major impact with the mobilisation of resources to reorganise (adjusting the legal and constitutional framework, redefining European political and trade relationships…). Another major thorny issue: what to do with the 3 million EU nationals living, working and/or studying in the UK, or the 2 million UK nationals spread throughout the EU?

Remain = Status Quo

Yet, to remain is to accept the status quo. Things I personally appreciate about the EU include the ability to travel without having to change monies or get visas and/or my passport stamped every time I cross a border. As a French national, I have the opportunity to settle wherever I would wish in Europe. Last but not least: the general peace Europe has enjoyed, regardless of the gross misfortune of the radical Islamic terrorism.

The one thing of which we do have a better understanding is if Europe stays as is, i.e. the UK votes to remain. Pretty much everyone everywhere knows that Europe is sickly. Even in the Remain camp, there are many who agree. What does the future hold with Europe continuing with the status quo?

Europe is ill

Europe is suffering on many layers, not least of which is its economic health. The European economy is systemically handicapped. The list of illnesses range from the systemic to the temporary to the cultural. The list of problems includes (but not limited to):

  1. the lack of fiscal harmony
  2. the hideously bureaucratic (and consensual) decision-making process in Brussels
  3. the lack of a harmonised vision of Europe across the 28 member countries of the EU
  4. the legacy feelings of entitlement
  5. the continuing divisions within the countries (Catalonia in Spain, Flemish in Belgium, Scotland in Britain, and an enormous laundry list of other active separatist or autonomy movements in Europe courtesy of Wikipedia)
  6. the risk of further pollutive immigration from the IS ranks

A chief argument for the Remain camp is that it will be easier to change from within… But, change hasn’t exactly been easy to forge in the past (especially over the first sixteen years since the introduction of the Euro). The UK’s half-wedded status has perhaps not helped them or Europe in this regard. Why will remaining in the EU mean that change will come any faster or better considering the poor record? An EU without the UK may be freer to move in the right direction?

Vote for Radical Change?

My personal opinion underlying my position on the Brexit vote is that Europe needs to find a way to heal, and to do so quickly. I don’t believe gradual change will be good enough. With its highly consensual process, any change has been laborious to push through. Europe needs a real wake-up call to understand that staying as is will be like the proverbial frog in the (gradually) boiling pot. If a Brexit Leave vote will be painful for Europe, it will certainly be more painful for the UK, at least shorter term. But short of a Brexit, I do not see how or why Europe will take the necessary and hard decisions that need to happen to fix it. For this reason, [tweetthis]I believe that #Brexit is in everyone’s long-term interest.[/tweetthis] It won’t be pretty, but it would provide the best chance of forcing Europe’s hand to bring about necessary radical reform. Staying “within” will mean that any such change will come only with major compromises that bring Europe down to its lowest common denominator. Given the obvious stresses that the immigration issue will continue to provoke, much less the continuing slow slide of the European economies, facing off against much more competitive global players, Europe in its current incarnation seems destined to hit the wall.

I thus support Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.

Your thoughts and reactions are welcome.

10 Comments, RSS

  1. Olivier Riviere

    Very well written and argumented. Congrats Minter. The description of Europe’s problems is probably the best I have ever read in its sharpness and concision. It remains that, with the same arguments, one can also come the conclusion that the UK should stay within Europe which shows how complex and closely related to personal beliefs this matter is.

    • Most kind, Olivier… It is indeed a most complex issue, but I think that the stark reality of a LEAVE would really bring about a more urgent understanding of the need to change. Otherwise, it’s “ooof, [relief] we [Europe] can continue as before.” The REMAIN camp doesn’t exactly come with a raft of propositions as to what the “new” Europe should be.

  2. Minter I completely agree and voted Out. I liken the issue to continuing with a broken leg that has been incorrectly set – better to re-break it and have it set right – painful in the short term but better in the long term. I also love Europe and feel more Continental than British in many ways. However, I see a vision of the EU disintegrating, the rise of right wing parties and the threat of non-desirable migration. I feel a strong need to protect our small island nation from becoming totally culturally diluted and blended. I also can’t help feeling we need to re-activated the Home Guard, especially in our coastal villages. There, I have spoken my true feelings as I look on from a two week break in the US where the reportage of this historic moment has been much more objective and the New York Times and WSJ articles have been excellent. Minter’s analysis is the best thus far, especially so because he asks questions that have not been hitherto properly addressed by the media – such as what will happen to the considerable number of EU people already living in the UK and UK people working and living in the EU?

    We shall see soon what will happen and let’s hope that we will have made the best long term decision no matter how painful at the outset.

    • Many many thanks Alexandra. I have not kept up with the US viewpoint… I was passed an FT article by Timothy Garton Ash that was very good (supporting Remain)… Ash refers to a number of other major failings: unemployment, absence of an effective policy in the Middle East [but who has one of those??}, a failure to secure the external borders of the Schengen area… As he says at the end, if Brexit would be bad for Europe, “almost as bad” would be just emit of sigh of relief for a Remain. I do not believe that Brussels/Europe in its current incarnation has the wearewithall, much less the mandate to make the sweeping changes that are needed.

  3. Alexandra Estey

    Cher filston: Well, here we are after the day of judgment. Here’s hoping you Brexits prove right for both the UK and the EU. I’m watching from a safe distance. Morsan

    • Everyone will be impacted by this… even from afar. The risks are that nationalism rears its head more and that other countries starting getting exit fever. Hopefully, these risks will prompt a stronger reaction from Europe and force Brussels to make some bold decisions for Europe’s future.

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