Okay, so today our be-sainted Prime Minister will formally trigger Article 50, which will pave the way for our departure from the European Union. I accept defeat. I was a staunch European but we lost and the inevitable is about to start. Just an aside – we have been told all along that we must not give away our negotiating position, so why have we already discarded the idea that we might remain in the Single Market, and yet we cannot bring ourselves to guarantee the residency of EU citizens living now in the UK – it is as if the government doesn’t actually like immigrants at all, heaven forfend that that might be the case.
What I find a bit more difficult to understand is exactly why the Farages and Carswells, the Redwoods and the Rees-Moggs and all the other backwoodsmen in the Tory party hate Europe so much. Because at every opportunity they denigrate and argue that nothing is good about Europe at all. Now I, even as a remainer, am aware that there are many aspects of the EU which are not perfect and could be improved; why is it that these Brexiteers can find nothing good to say about Europe at all. And why, oh why do they hate it so much.
Possible reasons; The war. There is a popular conception that even though we won the war (all of seventy-two years ago) it was Germany that actually won, at least economically. It is the same attitude that pervaded after the First World War, that somehow Germany must be punished, and never allowed to prosper again; the defeated should remain defeated.
Sovereignty; and yes, we have pooled some of our decision-making to a larger group. But so have Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales in the U.K. I am sure that many living in Aberdeen or Swansea think that all the decisions are made miles away in Westminster, just as those in Westminster think that Brussels is all powerful. The reality is that many decisions benefit from a wider concensus. Just look at all the time that has been wasted in Britain with countless re-organisations of the NHS by different Governments.
Lack of Democracy. Well, our democracy is hardly democratic either – the first past the post system means we have Governments elected by less than 40% of those even bothering to vote. At least the EU parliament is elected on PR.
Immigration – or more precisely, free movement of people. And I think that despite all the other arguments rapidly run up the flagpole, it is this that rankles most with Brexiteers. Strange when you think that most of them hark back to days of Empire, which has actually resulted in far more immigration from former colonies than have ever come from Europe. I think it is wonderful that we can travel all over Europe freely; that if I decide to work in France there is no problem, and if I want to live in Spain or Italy I am welcomed without question. And of course, we all know that the economy relies on these immigrants coming in and working and paying taxes and claiming, despite reports in the Daily Mail, very few benefits.
I can only conclude that the hatred of the EU we see so openly on display is down to a hatred of foreigners, that they believe that Brits are far superior to all others, that we know how to run our country far better than Johnny Foreigner….etc, etc. As Trump might have said, “sad and bad people, folks.”