Every so often reader I tend to post a blog on my own thoughts about a certain subject matter. Once again I ask for your indulgence as I share my views/treatise/ rant (delete as appropriate) . This is what happens when you leave Paul without mobile or internet coverage for the best part of a week!
This time it’s on the Brexit referendum that the UK faces on the 23rd June. Yes I know you’re probably already bored to the back-teeth of Brexit commentary, so I won’t hold it against you if you just choose to ignore reading my piece and go the pub instead.
I started writing this a couple of Fridays ago having attended the Bloomberg Brexit Event in Dublin. Here I’d listened to the Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny claim that he didn’t want to lecture the British on their Brexit decision…….and then proceeded to lecture us on how a Brexit vote would be terrible. For Ireland that is. Which it might be – and then again it might not.
Undoubtedly the Irish find themselves in a difficult position – as Enda Kenny reminded us, presently there is 1.2 billion euros of trade done every week between Ireland and the UK. Approximately e65 Billion a year in business. There are 200,000 jobs on each side of the Irish sea directly linked with the trade between Ireland and the UK. The joke in Ireland was that if Brexit happens then the immigrant camps of Calais will transport themselves to Dundalk! Personally I think this is highly unlikely (though some of you smart-alec’s may remark that parts of Dundalk already look like an immigrant camp. That may be your view reader, I couldn’t possibly comment.)
What do I think? Well I have been always quite openly in favour of Brexit. However for choosing Brexit I have been labelled so far this year:
– An idiot
– A racist
– A little Englander / an imperialist (supposedly wanting to return to a British Empire)
– Out of touch with modern politics / world
Well let me dispute some of those points. Yes I suppose I have been an idiot at times of my life – but then I challenge anyone to say that they have never been an idiot or made an idiotic decision in their life? With regards to my Brexit vote the people who tell me I’m an idiot………are all the same CEO’s Politicians, Civil-Servants, Executives etc. who have all done very well out of being part of the EU! So of course they think that any idea that promises to up-set the apple cart and unsettle their easy way of life is the idea of an idiot! Brexit sparks all manner of cognitive dissonance in these people (if you don’t know what that is, and want to know more then go and read Steve Goldstein’s piece in his ever-brilliant blog.)
A racist? How? I am from an immigrant family (my mother is Irish) and I know that the stats say that economically that the UK has been better off for immigration. I tend to agree with that and I think economic migration is an integral part of the human-condition. If your conditions are poor you get up off your arse and go and make a new life for yourself somewhere else. That concept is as old as we’ve roamed the earth. I don’t believe that a Brexit vote will provide the kind of control of borders that the quacks think it will.
An imperialist aching for a return of the British Empire? Oh, give over. If anything it’s the Remain crowd who are the imperialists wanting to believe in the might of Empire, that being the EU.
When I hear the likes of: Cameron – Obama – Carney – Osborne – Lagarde – Merkel – Juncker – Enda Kenny – and others all telling us that Brexit would be a terrible event for the British People it gets my dander up. Just that rogues gallery list of names telling me to stay in the EU is enough to make me want to vote for Brexit!
(I do admit that the Brexit crowd are hardly full of illustrious names and leadership either. I’m not disputing that whatsoever.)
Am I out of touch with modern politics/world? Well I suppose in a way I am. If refusing to listen to the utter tripe that people of all parties spout (both in the UK & Ireland) and being rather fed-up of all this political tom-foolery means I am out of touch with modern politics then yes, I am proudly out of touch with modern politics.
But there’s more: Michael O’Leary (of RyanAir Fame) was also speaking at the Brexit event – and to be fair to him he was, for the most part, an engaging and interesting speaker – who as you’d expect blatantly pushed his own agenda. He said the only argument was economics and from an economic point of view the argument was clearly won by the Remain crowd. And that nothing else mattered.
Here is where I would disagree and we start to get towards my own reasons for Brexit. There’s more to it than economics – Michael O’Leary has led a very sheltered, cosseted life without ever having to really work too hard for anything. For him to say the only argument is economics clearly shows that.
In 1992 I was a serving Officer in the RAF and was based in Italy / Balkans during the break-up, civil-war and ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia. I watched as EU ministers, sat around, talked a good game, wrung their hands and refused to do anything to help stop the atrocities going on in that god-forsaken part of the world. It was left to the US and the UK to step-in and get the job done.
In 1999 during the war in Kosovo we saw some of our European ‘Allies’ chicken out during the first day of the war and run-away. It was left to the US and UK to get the job done.
In Libya we saw the EU wring their hands and refuse to do anything, until they got US backing…apart from the French……who were desperate to secure export customers for their Rafale Fighters, so they sent them in first to make themselves look good (and which Egypt subsequently bought!)
In 2009 we saw the EU ferment trouble in Ukraine leading to a bloody civil-war which caused the break-up of the country and empowered Putin to annex the Crimea. At which point the EU ran away and hid behind Obama and asked the US to sort it out.
Recently we’ve seen the wholly underwhelming way with which the EU has dealt with the Syrian Civil war and the wave of immigration into Europe.
The great argument of the Remain crowd is that the EU has brought peace to Europe for the last 70 years. I can assure you that is not the case. It is NATO that has guaranteed the relative peace.
Personally I believe the European Union to be a opaque, un-democratic, morally-bankrupt, paper-tiger.
Interestingly Enda Kenny was quick to stress that Ireland was once again the fastest growing economy in Europe – without being able to really provide the details of why. Well I shall tell you why – it’s because the US and UK economy weathered the recession the best and recovered the fastest. The overspill from the US & UK is what raised Ireland from its post-crash gloom and doom. I’ve said it before – Ireland is an Atlantic Nation, not a continental European nation. It has more in common historically, culturally, economically with the US & UK rather than main land Europe.
My own view is that why would we want to couple ourselves to the slowest growing economic bloc in the world? That also has the largest youth unemployment? And seems to not really care about re-structuring itself to deal with those problems?
Anyway despite all my ranting the truth is that whilst I will vote for Brexit I don’t actually think it will happen. Why?
1. This week’s polls have both the remain and leave crowd knocking about the 41% vote each (give or take). The undecided is approx. 13%. Of those 13% the greatest majority of those are female votes – who are more likely to shun the perceived risk of Brexit and vote for the status-quo to remain.
2. I actually think that there are so many forces and players doing well out of the present status quo that it simply won’t be allowed to happen. Look at the list of names I mentioned earlier in my piece – they all have a huge vested interest in the remain vote and maintaining the status quo. I simply do not believe that we’ll be allowed to vote out, and they will do anything to prevent it. And I mean anything.
So what do the markets tell us? Let’s start with a look at Sterling:
From December we had weakness in the GBP (which I talked about at the end of last year). However since April (and Obama’s comments) we’ve seen an increase in GBP strength against everyone – including the recently strong USD & JPY. Even my own STAM is showing increasing Strength. Is this because the markets have already priced in a Remain vote? What do the readers think?
My own view is that in the unlikely event of a Brexit vote the GBP would drop – but would that be a bad thing? Yes it would make your holidays more expensive – so you’ll have to take a staycation instead. And it will also mean that we’ll become a more attractive venue for tourists (is that a bad thing?) People often refer to the drop in Sterling when the ERM Black Wednesday event happened – what they fail to remember is that set the conditions for the boom of the 90’s in the UK. Why could that not happen again? We’re a resilient people, we’ve lived through worse – we have enough talent in this country to forge our own way.
Furthermore I don’t believe it’s in our European neighbours best interest to hit us with tariffs – the UK is still too attractive and profitable an export market for them.
Let’s have a look at the FTSE: It’s not very impressive is it? No, it’s doesn’t seem to fill you with any confidence does it? Now I know that the FTSE 100 is not exactly a fair representation of the UK economy – however it’s still used as such a yard stick.
My own view is that 6000 is the line in the sand. If that breaks then we’re due a continued period beneath that number.
So my views continue to be that Brexit is the best vote for ourselves – but I don’t think it will happen. So I am voting out, but trading for in. (Who says that traders can be too emotionally attached to their positions!) That is what I think will happen….but I’d be delighted if I’m wrong and there is a Brexit!
My own views are formed off the back of democracy rather than pure economics. By rejecting the EU, I am not stating some democratic supremacy insinuating that UK politicians are better – far from it. They’re mostly a shower of rubbish. But they are our shower of rubbish. If I don’t like them I can a) vote them out or b) I know where they live (should you wish to take an alternative, more robust, route towards power and decision-making!)
Cameron showed very clearly how little influence we had within the EU with his miserable re-negotiating stunt. It was a waste of time and did him more harm than good.
In my utopian view of a perfect future there would be the creation of a new trading block: NATO – The North Atlantic Trading Organisation (yeah I know I’m stealing the name) but it would be a trading bloc built on our historical maritime trading links: Canada, The US, Ireland, The UK and the Skandies.
“If Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea, it must always choose the open sea.” Winston Churchill
I’d like to think that I have added in some way to the debate, the truth is it’s just an old man ranting against, what appears to be, an inevitable step towards a ‘supposedly’ safer, more peaceful, and undoubtedly blander way of life. If you’ve read all the way down to this part then I truly admire your determination (or should that be foolishness?)
Trade well, and please let me know your thoughts regardless of your own position – there’ll be no remain-bashing here. I agree with John Redwood when he said this vote is more important than a general election and is also a re-run of the English Civil-War….without the muskets! (We’ll save them for afterwards!) Therefor I welcome all views and thoughts.