Talking sense with an Outer

So I’m a remainer, and I’m struggling to accept a vote not because I deny people the right to have a choice (though to be fair, across the world these things don’t tend to be passed by a simple majority, 60% or 2/3 are generally required) but because I do not think people were served well by either campaign.

Anyway, as it turns out I found myself in a long cab journey yesterday.  Like all rabid remainers, I knew I shouldn’t but I couldn’t help asking the cab driver “are you an Inner or an Outer?”.  “Out, definitely out” he replied with conviction.

“Fair enough” I thought, “its going to be a long journey, best just to let it go”.  He then went on however to describe his reasons, or rather, reason.  “Immigration” he said, and then recounted a story about how he knew of a none EU family who, having arrived in the UK, in his view had taken advantage of the country.  OK I thought, if this is something from his personal experience then I can understand his annoyance.  I did say however “You do realize that Brexit only affects EU migration?  In fact Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage were suggesting MORE none EU migration?”.

This started a long, fairly organic conversation in which he asked some questions and I gave him the facts as best as I knew them.  By about half way through he was looking visibly shocked and at the end of the conversation he was saying “I want to change my vote, why did no one tell me this, how do we get a second referendum?”

So what did I tell him.  Well, it wasn’t scare stories, it might have been a biased view, how could it not be, however I tried to be honest with him.  Below are some of the points covered.

  • Immigration concerns are valid, but the real issue is years of Government policy failure – there’s been a “housing crisis” off and on for 25 years.
  • The Leave campaign didn’t expect to win and were terrified on the morning when they had.  There is a reason why they essentially disappeared for over a week.
  • Boris has been an inner most of his life – he chose Leave for career reasons.
  • There is no guarantee on residency for ex-pats.  His friend in Portugal who owns a house there may have to sell it.  Spain and Portugal may well feel they want to start ejecting UK nationals.
  • We are not fighting Brussels, we are negotiating with 27 countries with 27 parliaments who need to work for their own people  (full disclosure, I thought a unanimous decision was needed, not a qualified majority. Actually I was right first time, a mixed trade deal needs approval from all countries).  If sufficient numbers do not think a deal is in their interests, we don’t get a deal.
  • If we do get a deal even equal to what we have now, the EU will likely break up and so therefore a good deal was very unlikely
  • We are looking at being the only developed country without a trade deal in place.
  • Yes there are 170 countries outside the EU, but most of them are poorer than we are.
  • Yes of course we will continue to trade with Europe, but premium brand Audis and BMWs are less sensitive to a 10% tariff than Nissan Micras.
  • The EU is 45% of our market, we are 10% of theirs.  We have to do a deal, they don’t have to.
  • No there wont be a crash – we are probably past that – but there will be a slow down.  Why would any company who sells into Europe invest in the UK?
  • Services are hard to sell to other countries because of regulations.  However we have one of the most open and deregulated economies in the world, therefore countries can sell into us far more easily than we can sell into them.
  • Trade deals are complex, can take years (especially for services) and we don’t have enough experts.
  • We talked about Northern Ireland, he was already worried about that.
  • One particular point was trading with New Zealand, he said “well if I see New Zealand Lamb and Welsh Lamb I’ll buy Welsh Lamb” “yes but what if the New Zealand lamb is 20% cheaper?”  “well, I’d buy NZ instead I suppose”.

This guy wasn’t stupid nor was he a bigot, he just had valid concerns about immigration and wasn’t really aware of the other issues.

So why am I saying this?  My point is – take heart.  Engage with Outers.  Accept the concerns over immigration but discuss with them the wider issues.  We know there has been a dearth of information and a lot of smoke and mirrors so perhaps we can persuade people 1 at a time.  We don’t need to lie, or exaggerate, or “scaremonger”, the facts speak for themselves.

People are starting to realise they were lied to but its hard to accept you made a wrong decision so it will take time.  But we have at least 6 months before Article 50.  There’s time to turn this around.

And by the way, at the end of the conversation the cab driver shook my hand and thanked me.  Hopefully he will go off and have a word with his family.  Hopefully he’ll see some resonance between the things I said and the things he hears in the news.  Hopefully he won’t be the last.

13 thoughts on “Talking sense with an Outer

  1. Thank you for this excellent post. So many issues that people just don’t understand, and yet we were meant to vote on. We are in such a mess and I can’t see how we will get out of it. The point that I’ve been referring people to is the one about most of the rest of the world being poorer than us. I realise I’m lucky in that I have travelled so widely but I’m beginning to understand how ignorant people are about the world. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen it said that countries are queuing up to trade with us. This decision should never have been put to the people, it’s a disgrace that it ever was.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clara apologies for the very late reply. Holidays and other stuff got in the way. Yes, its infuriating that many people simply do not understand that the rest of the world is not passively desperate to trade with us on terms that we dictate. Equally people seem incapable of understanding the EU is NOT a single entity with one set of mildly evil goals but 27 other countries all trying to do the best they can for themselves but also happy to pool some resources for the greater good. “They need us more than we need them” seems to be a constant refrain. Take heart though, I’m hoping things are being stalled until reality catches up with at least some of the people involved with Leave 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I keep trying. My best strategy is like you, to ask questions. I need people to really think about what they have voted for – and whether they are likely to get this. But most people are so entrenched they will dig their heels in even more whatever you throw at them! Still, onwards and upwards, we have nothing to lose (well we do but you know what I mean!)


      2. “we have nothing to lose but our economy, our political system and our sense of national identity”…oh hang on…I’ve been pointed to some “moderate” conservative FB Leave forums, need to take a look, I’m not a Tory but might be easier to get a discussion going – will let you know how it goes

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Just followed but I am not a huge user of Twitter and it tends to be linked to my blog/book for expats! However my blog has carried a few Brexit stories and I can see myself moving more into that area as the months (years?!) go by…


      4. Thanks a bundle Clara, there was I all proud and preening myself over my 150 odd follows and then I see your Twitter presence…. 🙂

        Thinking of a 2nd Twitter account for “work” – I’m in IT but not actually a Twitter user until recently – to keep things separate. Do find though that I enjoy writing and it certainly helps let off steam (rather than just posting the same arguments over and over on the Guardian) so probably should have started blogging years ago. Now if only I could find a way of doing this as part of my professional life…

        Liked by 1 person

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