Monthly Archives: April 2016

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The EU referendum

The annoying thing about this referendum is that it is all a Tory plot.  

The referendum commitment was made as  an internal Tory stratagem  to head off a perceived challenge from UKIP.  In practice this did not develop, but a manifesto commitment had been made; and when they found themselves unexpectedly possessed of a majority, they had to  proceed with it – whatever the disruptive effects on party unity.  Conservative confusion and conflict duly proliferated . . . to the general satisfaction of all right-thinking persons.

However, a vote is coming: how should we decide ?  On this issue, Labour Party policy is clear and unambiguous (for once) . . . we stay in.  For some members this will be sufficient guidance; but others will want to look deeper into the issues. Certainly, the Great Leader in earlier days had his doubts.

The complexity of the arguments for and against make it essential to take counsel from the experts – which can be a problem.  Remember FitzGerald:
    Myself when young did eagerly frequent
    Doctor and saint, and heard great argument
    About it and about; but evermore
    Came out of the same door as in I went.

In my case I went to a business breakfast in Exeter (coffee and pastries, very good) after which we were addressed by Sir Alan Budd, who set up the Office for Budget Responsibility at the Treasury, but had since retired to Sidmouth. He reviewed the significant developments of the previous year, as follows:

  • Everyone at the Treasury expected Labour to win the last election. When Labour didn’t,  they asked the pollsters why they got it so  wrong.
  • The pollsters checked their procedures and found no errors. They deduced a fundamental shift in public attitude beyond the ability of current polls to determine.   EU referendum poll results were already contradictory and must be judged as unreliable.
  • In the long term (20 plus years) Brexit would have no impact.  Over shorter terms the economic impact would be seriously negative.
  • Negotiating the exit terms would take a long time.  When Greenland (population 46,000, only one industry) left the EU this took two years. The UK negotiations would take much longer and terms would be more severe – to discourage other member states from leaving.

So there you have it: much what the Treasury said recently, and from an independent source.  Whatever we think about the byzantine EU bureaucracy, we cannot afford to go it alone.  The Brexit fanatics are in the same camp as the climate change deniers: the overwhelming majority of informed opinion is against them.