|Posted by Webmaster on June 21, 2016 at 2:00 AM|
A vote on Thursday to leave the EU would be of enormous political significance. It would mean, at a stroke, abandoning the European policy first espoused by the United Kingdom in 1961 and supported by every government since, endorsed by every Parliament over that half century – the policy of being in the European Union.
It is still the policy of the present government, and of the current Parliament. The clear balance of expert economic opinion is that exit would harm the economy, and that Northern Ireland would suffer disproportionately. The importance of the vote on Thursday simply cannot be over-estimated. This is a critically serious issue.
So it is sad indeed that the First Minister, Arlene Foster, in her articles in the Belfast Telegraph and the Newsletter, chose to base her advocacy for leaving the EU on assertions with little or no basis in fact.
It is easy to say, as she did that ‘what we joined, what exists today and what will exist in the future are very different things’. But to cite as evidence of this ‘the push for an EU state, the power of the unelected and unaccountable Commission, the ever increasing policy areas the EU claims competency over’ is to undermine her own argument, and to engage in the sort of scare tactic she accuses the Remain side of..
The EEC we joined in 1973 was explicitly committed to full Economic and Monetary Union and to a European Union. There was not then, and there is not now any proposal; for or commitment to a single European state. The European Commission has less power than it had in 1973, and it is accountable to the European Parliament, which can dismiss it, and to the European Court of Justice. To assert that it ‘plays the central and decisive role in EU policy and law-making’ as Ms Foster does, is to portray scant knowledge of the workings of the EU. The UK, like every other member state, can veto any increase in the EU’s area of competency.
On the border the First Minister clings to the Common Travel Area which exists between the UK and Ireland as a guarantee that the border will remain invisible. But as she must know the CTA is an arrangement between London and Dublin, not a binding legal agreement, and it may well have to be redrawn if what is now an Irish-British border becomes an EU-UK border. In any event it refers only to the free movement of individuals – not to commercial goods, nor to cross-border shopping. That is why customs posts and checks would seem inevitable if the UK votes to leave.
Chat shows, phone ins, vox pops all indicate confusion, bewilderment, cynicism and entrenched views impermeable to argument. Many bored and exasperated by the whole topic will wash their hands of it and stay at home. In a referendum where one side is advocating no change, and the other urging a radical about turn - a leap in the dark - not to vote is to favour change, not the status quo.
Some regard a referendum as a higher form of democracy; in a functioning parliamentary democracy it is closer to anarchy. If the vote on Thursday is to leave, it will still be up to a Parliament in which a majority believes that to be madness, to implement it. What folly is that?