You’ve probably heard all the arguments, by now. For the past four years or so, British politics has been dominated by Brexit, by leaving the EU.
Before the EU referendum, individual on both sides put forward their rationale for their side of the vote. We had a long campaign prior to June 23rd 2016 and I can remember, personally, thinking I’d had enough of the EU dominating the news before it had even finished.
Both sides were reasonably strategic in the way they framed their arguments, and it wasn’t entirely clear until afterwards which ones truly resonated with the public and which didn’t. On the Leave side, it’s become clear that sovereignty is, far and away, the biggest reason that people voted to leave. Leave voters, more than anything else, preferred to be governed by people they elected themselves and could remove at the next General Election. Reasons like immigration were much further down the list.
Which is why it’s curious to me now that, since this is clearly the case, nobody on the Remain side is making the case for being governed by the EU.
Where are the arguments that the EU parliament is of a superior structure than the British parliament? Where are the Remainers letting us know that they’d rather be governed by the EU than by representatives of the British public?
It’s blatantly clear now that Britain is so tightly coupled with the EU that leaving will be complicated. It’s also plainly obvious that the Single Market contains so much regulation that replacing it (not that we should) will be a monumental task. Why then, when it’s so evident that the EU has such control over our lives, does nobody say that this is a good thing?
If I were to create a steel man of opposing views, I think I could do a reasonable job off the top of my head. I’d say that EU laws against nationalisation of production were a robust defence against a potential socialist government. I’d say that the EU were unlikely to become much more authoritarian than they already are, due to the difficulties involved in removing sovereignty from 28 member states (all at the same time) and that this would be a good safeguard against a totalitarian state from either the left or the right. I’d say that a state based upon the principles of free trade is a good thing. I’d say that, regardless of the existence of NATO or any other organisation, having government comprised from representatives of various EU states can only be a good thing and will inevitably decrease the chance of war between European nations.
Of course, I don’t believe that. It’s not that there isn’t some truth to all of it. It’s just that the issues I mentioned above all have far better solutions than an undemocratic EU superstate.
So why aren’t these arguments (or others) made?
Of course, it’s difficult for me to put myself in the position of a Remain voter. I remember the General Election in 1992, as a teenager, with the Referendum Party putting forward candidates in all constituencies and secretly wanting them to win, so I’ve been a Leaver for a long time. So, in order to do so, I’d have to think in abstract terms. Why wouldn’t I be championing something I purportedly supported, wholeheartedly? The only answer could be that I don’t really believe in it.
Which is why I have come to the conclusion that Remainers don’t really believe in the EU, either. Not from a governance perspective, anyway. It’s why they reverted to Project Fear, not Project Cheer. And it’s why British people are, quite rightly, sceptical of being governed by any organisation its supporters can’t even bring themselves to extol.