Responding to a classic Leave “stop being negative” Comment

Was asked for help today in responding to a lengthy Leave post along the lines of “Stop being negative lets just get on with it”.  Sharing now as most of us will be presented with similar arguments.  Comments in bold are from original posting

Staying in the EU is also an unknown given its fragile state and all the economists and business leaders are only speculating too.
Lets assume this is true. The EU is right next to us and will always be our major market, we are not going to shift 50% of our trade to the US or China, Australia and NZ combined have a population of 30 Million (compared to 500 Million in EU). Furthermore if the EU disintegrates, the world will fall into a depression, just look at the wobbles when Grexit was on the cards. Finally there are the security issues, what happens when the EU fractures into 27 competing states, some of which will be greatly weakened. Its only 26 years ago that half of Eastern Europe had nuclear weapons pointed at us.

Under these conditions the EU is and will remain vital to us for economic, security and political reasons. No strategist would suggest therefore that we walk away and leave it to collapse and to believe that we would be shielded from any fallout is naive. The right answer is to stay and use our influence to fight for reform, not to walk away and pretend any EU collapse wont impact us, it would be devastating and would make the credit crunch look like a tea party

The UK is strong enough politically and economically to stand on its own.
The UK has grown to this position by being in the EU. We wielded enormous influence at the table far beyond our size. We were the gateway to 500 million customers for the rest of the world. But look at us now. Politically we are a shambles, a laughing stock on the world stage. The Brexiters have all shuffled off, Johnson is openly laughed at, Davis has shown he doesn’t understand Trade and Fox has been put in his place already. We have no plan and far from being politically strong we have shown ourselves to be incredibly weak with all sides falling to populism rather than robust policy

The EU is heavily flawed with a barrage of stupid rules and weighty bureaucracy which we all pay or have paid too much for. For example I was talking to a dairy farmer recently and there are 2500 EU laws about milk – crazy! I agree it would have been a great shame if the UK had left the EU if it was working well but its not. 
Regulations are a necessity of world trade. There are not 2.5K EU laws, there may be that many regulations but so what? How does that meaningfully affect you? Food prices have been going down more or less for several years so what is the material negative impact?

Of course, now that we have Brexited, this will reverse. As we import a significant amount of food and the pound has dropped (and will drop further) shopping prices will start to rise. If we end up with Tariffs on EU food they will rise further. This is the material impact on food prices, not “excessive regulation”.

In fact as you mention milk, lets talk about Greece. Greece has an additional regulation around milk which means that its shelf life is 5 days.  This is a Greek only directive and it makes it impossible for external suppliers to sell milk, hence Greece has the highest milk price in Europe. The regulations try to prevent this, to provide a level playing field which in turn promotes competition. And of course, how many regulations would there be if there were 28 countries all setting their own? Far more that 2.5K. Hence less competition (because meeting all those country specific regulations would be expensive) and higher prices again.

I’m also informed economically and politically – in my view you have to be in today’s world. Nothing personal here but what winds me up on facebook are all these doom mongering messages re ‘we should have stayed in’ or ‘lets have a second referendum’ or ‘the brexit vote is not legal or constitutional’ – let’s get over it, its happened, it was the view of the people and with a positive attitude we can strengthen Britain’s position in the world as we have so many great qualities and now stronger trade opportunities with the rest of the world! – sorry can’t stand all this negativity – lets move forward not look back!

With respect – move on to what? What model? Norway? EFTA? WTO? All of them have their issues. If you are informed then fair enough, spend 90 minutes watching this and then give a position on which model to go for.

Many of us will have had managers who didn’t have a plan or a budget but said “if we all just roll our sleeves up we’ll meet the deadline” – we all know that those projects always fail. A positive attitude wont help us sign trade deals, wont help with the rewriting of 40 years of law and wont help us in negotiations with 27 other countries that frankly we have treated appallingly.

No-one would commit their career or get behind a manager who said “I don’t know exactly where we are going or what we are trying to achieve, nor do I know what success looks like, nor do I even know roughly what the end date is, but if we all just pull together I’m sure it will be OK”, yet that is exactly what we are being asked to do in Brexit. This is just one example of an exchange I had with 2 Leave supporters on the same day, both utterly convinced of their position and the way forward, both sure that they knew what they were voting for, each one as different in practical terms as cheese and Wednesday. This is another piece which shows how the Leave camp breaks down into 4 incompatible groups:

If even Leave supporters cannot articulate a consistent position, if different Leave groups demand radically different outcomes, what are we supposed to get behind? Its not negative to ask “what is the plan?” – its just common sense.

2 thoughts on “Responding to a classic Leave “stop being negative” Comment

  1. My short answer is: “If the government can deliver what Leave promised, then fair enough. But I wonder if that’s possible. If what people voted for is unachievable, then clearly we’ll need another referendum. Won’t we?”


    1. I think personally (another short blog I want to write) that figures like Dan Hannan and others wanted the Norway model, tweaked a bit for our size, but essentially with Free movement, contribution and full market access but the ability to do our own trade deals.

      But they overplayed their hand on immigration and the contribution, and are now caught in an impossible position. That’s my own personal theory.

      Liked by 1 person

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