Guys, as threatened by Carl on another thread, this thread is heading towards being the next one to get the LOCKED treatment. There is plenty of room for debate and differences of opinion without resorting to digs and name calling (using words like Remoaner or dismissing Remain voters as old / racist just reduces your post to that of name calling).
The reason I started this thread was that it was a topic that cropped up on here occasionally and is something that I get asked about by Americans virtually every time I'm out in a social situation. I live in a town about 20 miles to the NW of Boston and when we go to one of our two local pubs my wife and I almost always end up talking about this subject when the locals spot our English accents. So, whilst there is a lot of interest in the subject (and I think us Brits can share the major topics of discussions with our friends here from around the world who probably do not get access to the full picture from their own media) I don't think this is the forum for us Brits to have a full-on public scrap between Brexiteers and Remainers. Please bear this in mind - I don't think I've ever had a forum locked by a mod before in all of the years that I've been writing mindless drivel on the Internet
Dennis - we have covered metrication before. This was happening anyhow, regardless of European entry. Can you imagine the extra overhead that would be faced if all commercial programs (including PoS systems, credit card readers etc.) and internet sites that had any element of commerce attached to them had to handle a non-decimal cash system?
The argument of sovereignty and law is a strange one. As pointed out, the UK was a willing participant and sometimes driving force behind many of the rules in Europe and I just don't accept that the UK is in a legal straight jacket and has law imposed upon it. There are two areas where I think Brexiteers have particular beef on this front - the nanny state argument and dislike of the Human Rights Act / European Convention on Human Rights. The former is an argument you hear periodically from the Reps and the Libertarian parties in the US - sweep away lots of legislation, small government, free up red tape etc. The argument for this is that it will make it cheaper to do business, but at what cost? What about if more elderly folk lose their life savings to rogue investors, or some people lose their life to sub-standard products or services? People who argue for doing away with such legislation could at this point cry "project fear" - and they have a point. It is sometimes difficult to quantify an outcome unless you do it and the people for light-touch legislation are going to downplay the risks and up-play the advantages and those of the opposite persuasion will do, well, the opposite. I guess that the one thing we will never know is what would UK law look like today if we hadn't joined the EU? My guess is that it would have been broadly similar to what we have now. On that note, as we come out of the EU the starting position of our statute book would be a facsimile of European law - I think any departure from these laws would be a long and tortuous process (I guess that to some it would be sufficient that we could change laws if we wanted to, even if we ended up doing so very infrequently). The second point has cropped up a number of times in high profile legal cases where the UK government has lost cases where they have tried to expel undesirables and there are also concerns about the Lords losing supremacy to the European Courts on cases of appeal. My personal opinion is that the Human Rights Act is on the whole a good thing and I'd happily have the European courts as the ultimate arbiter on legal matters - but others see this as a loss of sovereignty. Imagine how much red tape their will be if the UK trades independently with many different countries around the world?
There are fairly clear patterns on Brexit voting (but it is a generalisation - there will always be exceptions). The older you are, the more likely you are to have voted for Brexit. The younger you are the more likely you are to have voted against. A simple explanation is that those over 55-60 can remember a happier, pre EU time whereas those who are younger are afraid of change to a system that they have been used to all of their life. Even with the UK out of the EU, I can't see those halcyon days returning - the whole world has changed. Globalisation and technology has changed the shape of the world that we live in for good. Immigration is a big issue for some people. Being out the EU won't really help much here. Most of the Europeans who came to the UK were in work and contributed to both society and the economy, despite the fact that we could not control their numbers. On the other hand, we ended up with many thousands of non-EU migrants - these are numbers that we could have controlled if we want to (but didn't for a variety of reasons). There are people still around in the UK today from earlier times when we openly encouraged immigration (the Windrush generation, plus others from India, Pakistan and other former UK colonies) and their offspring who are not going to be leaving the country as a result of Brexit. My in-laws (openly racist) were not happy with an article I sent them about a Philippine company that is ramping up a service to offer thousands of their staff to work in the NHS in nursing and other medical posts to replace all of the Europeans that are leaving the country.
The EU is far from perfect. Their accounts have not been signed off for years, there are questions about the 'gray train' of people who make huge sums of money in salary, expenses etc. There are arguments about accountability / unelected roles within the system (though there are counter arguments to this position and it is also pointed out that the WTO, a body that many Brexiteers seem happy to work under, is totally unelected. Also, civil servants within the UK are unelected). There are questions about European expansion. The spread Eastwards has caused issues - relations with Russia, can Europe even function with so many different countries at the table with differing views and priorities? If we are part of the EU we have at least some say in the running of things - if we are a trade partner only we just have to abide by rules that we cannot influence.
Then there is the whole question about remit - should the EU just be a trading bloc or a political superpower? There is a small core of people who are looking for a United States of Europe. In this day and age it is a very fringe view - many politicians do not want this, knowing that their electorate would never go for it even if they felt it was a good idea. I find it odd that many Brexiteers see a UK future as a small independent state as the way forward economically when the largest economy in the world is effectively a collection of 50 countries. I think the United States of Europe is the Brexiteer version of project fear - I think that integration beyond trade has many benefits (admittedly, with some limitations and disadvantages as well) and we can have a strong Europe whilst maintaining an identity and local control of laws etc.
For some Brexiteers I think a problem with being in the EU is that it is progressive, left-leaning, nanny state / interventionist. The latest European elections have seen a great swing to the right in terms of the parties that won the most seats / votes. Would attitudes change (Brexiteer and Remainer) if the organisation became more right wing in its laws based upon the current make-up? Heavy restrictions on immigration from outside Europe, economics based quotas on immigration inside Europe, legislation purge (including limiting the scope of the European Convention on Human Rights), smaller government (particularly European parliament) with a more limited remit, larger spend on defence, strong emphasis on trade across European countries and with the world at large? This might flip the opinions on both sides. Not sure if this infographic will work
, but it shows that many countries now have right-leaning parties as the largest group in recent EU elections.
With the above swing in mind, is the EU in its current form doomed to failure, being destroyed from within by the likes of Nigel Farage? The UK getting out would be a blow as would the recurrence of fiscal issues with countries like Greece, Italy and Ireland. Maybe a shock, reset, implosion within the EU is what is needed to force structural and historic issues within the organisation to be addressed. It would come at great cost to the population of Europe and beyond, but maybe this is the future - a phoenix to rise from ashes?
Things have become so toxic and entrenched within the UK that I think the only way forward is exit in October with no deal. Remain with Article 50 revocation, second referendum and remain with trade deals are all hugely problematic. Getting fully out at least honours the referendum and then gives us a reset button. The Labour and Conservative parties would have a long, hard look at where they stand on all things Europe under new leadership and of course we would start to see reality under a post-Brexit UK rather than conjecture / project fear / project unicorn. People would get to vote again in future general elections based upon what each party says in their manifesto about Europe and, if appropriate, a UK party could petition for reintroduction to the EU in the future (whether we would be welcomed with open arms is another question all together).