Monday, June 20, 2016

The EU Referendum (Part 2)

It feels strange knowing that in just a few days, I could end up losing my EU citizenship. It’s something that’s difficult to really conceive of, yet it could be reality by Friday. 

Of course, in the event of a Brexit vote, it’s unlikely that we would “lose” our EU citizenship straight away as the result of the referendum is announced. Things don’t really work like that. Instead, we would have a torturous two years of negotiations or so before we finally have EU citizenship rescinded. UK passports would be replaced with new ones, sans the wording ‘European Union’ (which would cost huge amounts of money in itself), and the bit inside the passport where it says ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland passport’ in all the EU’s official languages (there’s a lot of them).

The UK and the EU would then go to loggerheads as to how the UK would be able to access the Single Market. The EU would almost certainly demand in return that the UK join the Schengen area, guaranteeing freedom of movement across most of the continent, which – as I’ve pointed out previously – includes non-EU countries Iceland, Norway, and (for now) Switzerland (the latter of whom are at continual loggerheads with the EU over immigration). The UK would be unwilling to join the Schengen zone, fearing a backlash from its own population, and particularly from Leave voters, many of whom (but not all) voted for a Brexit precisely to put a cap on immigration numbers – or simply to stop immigration to the UK altogether. 

In this scenario, it’s not unrealistic to see the UK completely isolating itself from the rest of Europe, and in so doing, cutting itself off from its main export market. The result would almost certainly be recession, at least in the short-term. Leave supporters like to point out that the EU and Europe are too different things, and that people conflate an alliance of nations with a continent. Yet we really would be isolating ourselves from Europe here.
Then there would be the thorny question of what would happen to the many citizens from other EU countries resident in the UK, who have not took British citizenship, and for those UK citizens living in other EU nations. Would EU citizens be allowed to stay if they have been here for a specified number of years? Would they need ‘points’ according to their job history? And would the EU nations respond in kind to UK residents living in their country if the UK decided to 'expel' EU citizens?

Leave don’t have any idea about these questions. Much of the answers to the above would have to be negotiated. No-one knows what the outcomes would be. That’s the problem with Brexit. I don’t know. You don’t know. No-one knows. It’s a huge step in the dark. Vote for that if you have no worries about the future and have made your millions. But for those, like me, with not much money and a desire for a stable jobs market in which to proceed, it is not worth the risk. The EU may not be perfect, but Brexit would be no friend to the working-class, struggling to improve their lives. Instead, Brexit would usher in a bonfire of working time regulations, along with privatisation of the NHS - ironically, one of the subjects that the Leave campaign have claimed would be in peril if we stay in the EU. They're wrong.

Vote Remain, in other words. In terms of stability and prosperity, you know it makes sense.