EU Referendum: Cameron And Farage Live


Prime Minister David Cameron and MEP Nigel Farage both made their individual cases for a ‘remain’ or ‘out’ respectively for the upcoming European Referendum in a live television ‘debate’ last night.

I say ‘debate’ as both men never shared the stage or traded questions.

Given the way in which Britain’s membership to the European Union informs immigration policy, and how that in turn could effect the movement of Jihadists within Europe, I’ve often been asked which way I will be voting on June 23rd.

The truth is, I’m not entirely sure what to think. I like the idea of a sovereign nation controlling its own borders, making its own decisions – yet I’m so woefully uninformed on the subject of the economy that I can’t begin to decipher the consequences of leaving the EU from that perspective.

I have two major issues with the way this whole debate is playing out publicly. The first is that it has almost exclusively been focussed around the issue of immigration and secondly, mainstream Britain appears incapable of having a sensible discussion on that topic.

Any anti-mass/immigration viewpoint can find you shouted down as a ‘racist’ by a subset of the left. This is unhelpful of course. And this is exactly what happened to Nigel Farage during this live ‘debate’ last night.

In true fashion, these accusations were shouted over his attempt to rebut a question which implied he was a racist to begin with. I believe this is known as Aflecking.

You may recall Richard Dawkins had this to say on the referendum a while back:

‘Tory promised referendum on Europe is DEEPLY irresponsible. Absurd to trust the UK public to weigh up such a serious, complex economic issue’


‘I’m not qualified to vote on leaving the EU. Nor are you unless you’ve made a full study of the issues. We are qualified to vote for an MP.’

This may seem patronising, but I’m finding myself more and more in agreement with the sentiment as the 23rd looms closer.

Well, as it stands at the moment, I’m leaning towards ‘remain’. This, admittedly is partly motivated by the fear of the unknown. It seems to me, that if you’re unsure, the smart move would be to remain, rather than take such a huge gamble.

Also, because David Cameron made some positive noises on a political annoyance of mine last night that may have swung an ‘out’ decision had it gone unchecked. That is Britain’s inability to deport foreign criminals and extremists to the countries of their origin in a timely fashion.

Britain, due to it’s membership of the EU has struggled with this for some time to our embarrassment. Recall the case of Abu Hamza for instance.

David Cameron assured viewers that new, upcoming legislation within the EU framework would solve this problem and allow Britain the power to deport those it deems necessary to deport. It’s worth noting that Cameron made this pledge on the day it was reported that 50 foreign criminals were able to remain in the UK due to Brussels ‘red tape’. I suppose a lot also rests on whether you trust Cameron to keep his promise.

The final vote takes place on the 23rd of June, and it’s possible I may even change my mind several times before then – such is the misinformation on both sides. At this point, I almost feel like tossing a coin. Euro or pound though?

This is one of the most important decisions Britain could make, I don’t intend to shirk my voting responsibility – I just fear the misinformation and hot air surrounding this debate makes it impossible to be sufficiently informed.

I ran two Twitter polls on the EU – one before and one after the debate to gauge the views of my audience. These are entirely unscientific and have different sample sizes, but I thought they may have been of interest anyway. Here’s the pre-debate poll:


And here’s how the votes looked after the debate:


Despite the change in sample size, it appears there wasn’t much shift in opinion. My audience seem overwhelmingly in favour of ‘out’. However, it’s impossible to know how many casting their vote actually reside in Britain, or will actually bother to vote if they do. I guess we shall wait and see what June 23rd brings us.

Please use the comments section to make your best argument for whatever you think is the best choice in this referendum. Feel free to include links to information for me and others who are still uncertain of the best course of action.

Stephen Knight is host of The #GSPodcast. You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.


  • Fully agree with Dawkins on this one. The Scottish ref was bad enough, the EU one will have even worse ramifications if it goes through.

  • Remain, for several reasons. Although the EU is not perfect, Britain benefits from being in a large trading block. There is no doubt that leaving the EU will cost British jobs.
    The main problem for me is uncertainty. If there was a leave vote, countless treaties and arrangements would have to be negotiated with the EU (the EU will still be there even if we leave!) and this will take time, at least two years to get everything sorted. Who knows how much that will cost? Uncertainty is terrible for an economy. Who you want to invest in a country is you knew the rules could change in the near future?
    Also, the EU invests where the UK doesn’t, through regional development funds. I like in Liverpool, and it’s impossible to not notice all the EU flags on placards telling you where EU money is being spent. If we leave, that money goes. Do you really think the Tory government in Westminster gives a shit about the North of England? Remember, they recently moved their “Northern Powerhouse” offices to London!
    Not to mention that the “leave” campaign is inept. It has no plan for the future, and is built on lies. It does NOT cost us £350 million a week to be in the EU, that figure has been debunked many times. And the idea that whatever we do spend on the EU will be spent on the NHS is laughable, we all know that the Tories would not do that. Vote remain.

    • Mr Kevin J Cleary

      The tory government is transient though. That’s using a temporary as justification for a permanent.

  • I, like you, have been overwhelmed by the constant barrage of misinformation and scare mongering from both sides and as a result I’m still on the fence.

    The one thing, though, that seems to continually float to the surface during all the aggitation of the muddy waters is that we (the nation) are more important to the EU than our current position within the EU would suggest. That, to me, makes me think that an ‘out’ vote would stir up something of a storm which would put us in a far better negotiating position than voting ‘in’.

    It is brinkmanship of the highest order, but as a nation, wouldn’t be the first time we have stood strong and said, “actually, no”.

    Whatever the outcome of the vote, I think we have some interesting times ahead.

    • What scaremongering comes from the remain side?

      • I can only assume you meant to put a comma after “what” and that it was a tongue-in-cheek question.

      • Stephen Knight

        Economic disaster…”think of the children” springs to mind…

      • “If you don’t stay the economy will collapse, we won’t be able to make a Stand against Russia and our health system will collapse” First of all Britain was doing very well without the EU when trading in the past, and Germany (main car buying client) has already voiced they won’t punish the trade whatsoever. EU made no stand against Russia, so what does it change? And last I checked immigrants get old too, so unless you want to exponentially increase the immigration rate every generation, you might want to check for other strategies either way. And this “think of our children” was a pretty bad move too: policies should win based on evidence and logical conclusion, not emotional manipulation.

  • If you are undecided, the best way to decide in my opinion is not to choose a side. The question is also not whether right now is good, but what impact the vote has on the future.
    The idea that you loose your state’s autonomy concerning EU laws for me is quite frankly a deal breaker, since it allows much more restrictive and quite frankly corrupted states to co-decide about Great Britain.
    Given the economical power and stability the UK had before the EU, it’s very unlikely that there will be major impact on the long run. The main client, Germany, has also stated that there will be no repercussions, which again does not support the MP’s fearmongering.
    If I had only this “debate” to choose from, I would opt for leaving, because while Farage gave useful answers and legit viewpoints, whereas the MP continuously dodged every question, he also brought up fearmongering tactics and the usual ‘think of the children’ non-answer. Another thing I highly disliked about the MP was ‘I want, from the EU this and I want that…’, sorry, but wanting and getting from the EU are two different things and the track record of ‘getting what I want’ from the EU is very scarce.
    To my luck I don’t have to vote. But I would vote leave.

  • For me its leave.
    On the economy arguments I don’t believe economists have any more foresight than I do. Markets tend not to like change so there would be a bit of turbulence in the short term but after that I see no reason why we should fair any better or worse than all other non EU economies.
    The big issue for me is lack of democratic accountability. If I don’t like the government I can vote them out (with the help of a few million other Brits). How can I remove the EU commission? I can’t.
    Immigration is an issue of less import to me but an issue non the less. We need people to come here, its good for our economy and society. We don’t need mass movement os unskilled peoples.
    If half my street is made up of peoples from all around the world my community is enriched. If half my street is made up of peoples from one other country my community is decided in half.
    The ability to deport foreign criminals is another issue and although Cameron claimed it will be solved soon I’m afraid I don’t believe him. The EU has no affect on our ability to deport outside the EU anyway. We should have the ability to refuse entry in the first place to people with criminal histories.
    There will be draw backs to withdrawal but they are a price worth paying for our ability to regain our democracy and self determination.

  • I’m an immigration lawyer and the scaremongering that goes on over our borders doesn’t make sense to me. The UK is not in the schengin free movement zone, this means any non European who has entered a European country can not come into the UK without making a visa application through the UK. We have complete control over our borders in respect of non-EU nationals. EU Nationals have free movement rights, this means that our citizens can also freely move to EU countries, which they do in droves. We have a large expat community in Spain in the millions. In addition to this EU migrants can only live here if they are working and paying tax to the UK. So EU migration in the end balances itself out I think.

    Isolating ourselves from the world will not solve our problems. Intelligence sharing, trading and increased jobs are all things being in the EU provides to us. I haven’t heard a coherent argument from the leave campaign that isn’t about fear. The EU is a powerful block of influential countries and we have a stronger influence on the world while being at the table.

    • The argument isn’t about non EU migration its about EU migration. The remain side use non EU and refugees to muddy the waters.
      EU migration is a problem only when its mass migration, it is now.
      I don’t want to be isolated from the world, I want to be outward facing to the whole world and not just the EU.

      • I disagree. The open doors policy led by Germany is creating a population increase too fast for infarstructure of housing, services and jobs to accommodate it; plus a lot of recent migrants are culturally anti-(secular liveral democracy) and will not assimilate.

        Britain has already had this problem because of it’s colonial past in India, but mainly caused by Pakistanin Islamic non-assimilation, and later by African Islamic communities. Non-Islamic cutlures assimilate sufficiently well or are small enough not have anti-democratic influence to he same extent. The misreading of who are representative Muslim organisations has poured money into organisations with anti-democratic links (and occasionally terrorist ones). The isolation of mosques and schools has allowed hate preachers to spread Islamism; and that eventually ends up in universities, where the politically corrrect and regressive students are more willing to back an Islamist Islamic society against a feminist if that feminist makes too much of the misogyny in Islam.

        The reason the EU and the non-EU immigration is connected is that when the Germany grants citizenshipt to non-EU immigrants that gives them access to the UK.

        The specific problems for the UK (and Holland) are an already hight population density compared to Germany and France, which with both native EU plus non-EU migrants, theatens a higher rise in UK population with less space and fewer resources to accommodate without chaos.

        With a slow rate of immigration and efforts to encourage assimilation and adoption of secular liberal democratic values* there’s no reason people can’t be persuaded of the benefits of our system (over others, and despite its faults). We are essentially an immigrant nation, as is most of Europe. It’s the rate of population increase and the divisive politics of those arriving that makes it difficult.

        *The centre, a significant size of the population, that straddle Labour and Conservatives, that vary in compatible degrees of collectivism and indivisdualism, socialism and capitalism, are basically secular, liberal, and democratic. But those furhter to the left and right polarise us and prevent a centre party forming by fear mongering: if you spit OUR vote THEY will win.

        • By the time non EU migrants are given citizenship by Germany they probably wont want to move.

          • If unemployment in Germany is high enough, they will. If the UK economy can do quite well in the EU relative to other EU economies, they will. And it’s not just Germany. Poor Italy, forever labelled the soft underbelly of Europe, does itself no favours. The processing of illegal migrants is so half assed that many entering Italy don’t get processed (convenient, since that would require Italy to support them), so off they trot to the channel ports. The US will remain a destination for migrants as long as it’s doing well, and if doing well in the EU that will make it easier for them to move to the UK. If the UK were so unattrictive that that original and immigrant EU citizens didn’t want to come here, then the would not be beneifitting from being in the EU.

  • Lindsay Holloway

    I care passionately about democracy and the EU is fundamentally undemocratic and has proven itself, time and time again, totally incapable of reform. The EU Commission is unelected and full of failed politicians such as its current president Jean-Claude Juncker and Neil Kinnock whom are now immune to the ballot box. Cameron’s promised reforms were predictably pitiful because why would the EU give us any special concessions? If the EU is so fantastic for the UK, why did Cameron deem it necessary to attempt to reform it in the first place?

    The leaders of the EU have repeatedly made, publicly, their intention of further fiscal, economic and political integration abundantly clear. There are two continents not showing economic growth currently – Europe and Antarctica! The Eurozone has been in crisis since 2009 and has proven disastrous for Greece, Spain and Italy with youth unemployment upwards of 40%. The vote on visa-free travel for Turks has been deliberately postponed until after June 23rd. I wonder why?

    We’re the 5th largest economy in the world with historic links to most of the rest of the world but are shackled by the EU re trade agreements with it. Yes, there will be uncertainty if we leave, but there is considerable uncertainty if we remain. What will our future budget contributions be? What will our net migration figures be in the coming years? What Eurozone bailouts will we have to help finance – something we have already had to do despite guarantees we would not?

    Yes, there will most likely be (temporary) economic consequences if we Leave, perhaps even a recession, but I believe this is a small price to pay for a return to genuine democracy and complete control over our own country’s destiny. If we vote Remain, it’s for keeps and if the EU has a British mandate, it’ll be full steam ahead for further, irreversible integration. I’ll stake my life on it.

    I’ve never been more sure of how to vote. #VoteLeave

  • Mr Kevin J Cleary

    One annoying thing for me is the constant use of the tories as an argument for the European Union. ‘The tories wouldn’t have….’ . The idea that if you don’t like the current democratically elected government of the UK, you can just bypass them by using the European Union. Surely this shows contempt for the UK democracy and the electorate?

    • There’s a lot of undemocratic sentiment on the regressive left. The public vote; they elect a government; the left don’t like it and they employ fairly undemocratic means to screw up what the government tries. They don’t merely demonstrate, which is fine, the obstruct and attempt to shut down. It doesn’t matter that a government has to serve all the people, not just them.

      I’ve seen one meme that defies belief. They are so fixated on a pro-EU agenda, and hate Cameron and the Tories so much, they love to trot out this little number:

      “Why should we let a government that received only 24% of the vote force us to vote on whether we should stay in a system where individual MEPs have even smaller percentage of the total EU citizen direct vote and other influential officials 0%”

      I might have over-paraphrase for emphasis, but that’s the gist.

      • It is not just that the current government was elected by only a small fraction of the electorate but that they gained power through allegedly fraudulent means. You may not have been following Channel 4 TV News, who have been documenting alleged illegal over-expenditures by more than 20 Conservative candidates during the general election last May 2015.
        A number of police forces are investigating the expenditures of these Conservative MPs with a view potentially to prosecuting them. If found guilty, the Tory MPs involved will be removed from office, thus removing the current government’s parliamentary majority.
        So, not only do we have a current government with a dodgy majority but we also have a government whose leader has forced this referendum on the country under a false pretext in order to keep his party from splitting apart.
        The real contest that is going on has little to do with Britain’s future in the EU and far far more to do with the current and future leadership of the Conservative Party.
        The referendum is – at best – a distracting side-show from the real issue of who leads the Conservative Party in future.

  • The biggest problem stems from the fact that there isn’t a single person on the planet that’s qualified enough to know what will happen either way we go.

    Leaving the EU won’t have much of an effect on me, but the people who will be most affected by it are still losing their milk teeth.

    Personally I’m angry that I’m even having to make this decision and potentially plunge my child’s adulthood into uncertainty.

    Although we have to dance to some silly tunes, we’ve enjoyed some very good times within the EU.
    I like the fact that there’s free travel to EU citizens, our rivers and sea’s have never been cleaner, the EU is pushing for lower carbon levels and the Europeon Court of Human Rights gives another stage for those who feel their human rights have been violated.
    Which I do truly value, as I’m not sure I can trust our government to not take anymore away from us.
    That’s not to say the ECHR always gets it right, but I like the fact that it’s there.

    Although I find it fairly easy to wade through the political platitudes and xenophobic rhetoric, they are muddying the waters for many.
    Rather attempting to predict what may happen, I reflect back on what has been achieved since we’ve been in the EU.
    They are the only facts I can look at.

    I’m not scared of immigration. Most of them integrate into our society, and get jobs.
    You only have to look at some of the native scrounges within our country to see that many of Britons, could do with following their example.

    Our country is been ruined from within.
    Strangulating the NHS isn’t a European directive.
    That’s internal capitalism.

    Unless some indisputable facts come to light to convince me otherwise, I’m going to vote to remain.
    I don’t want to be stuck on a tiny island with the current government.

    But although I’m voting to stay, I can’t help but feel that the EU will collapse under its own weight in the not too distant future.

    This is just my opinion and my explanation of what I’m basing my decision on.

    • On a point of information, the ECHR has no connection, whatever, with the EU although I believe the Conservative Party wishes to end that treaty arrangement as well.

  • I understand Dawkins’ reasoning when it comes to the referendum. I too am unqualified to vote on such matters however I am not convinced at all that Farage, Cameron, Corbyn or even my local MP is qualified to guide us or even vote on these kinds of issues on our behalf.

    We live in a country who’s Secretary of State for Health is a man who believes in homeopathic medicine! Granted, we didn’t vote him into that position but someone we elected to run things for us gave him the job on our behalf.

    We’ve got welfare cuts and austerity when they aren’t technically warranted. I reckon most economists would say that austerity is a political choice rather than a necessity. Our chancellor says it isn’t. He has a History degree.

    I don’t know about you but I’d rather listen to the people who studied economics over a man who studied Richard III. Saying that though politicians are politicians and do use spin seemingly wherever possible. Some outright lie. And even with the wealth of information we all have in the palm of our hands it’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell fact from fiction. And even if we could we would find it extremely difficult to comprehend the ramifications of leaving or staying. That goes for the politicians too. Most people can only just about get their head around their quarterly gas and electricity bill.

    The problem, as I see it, is that politicians are too busy trying to be political – appealing to demographics and the like, and trying to advance their own careers and not actually doing anything technical to resolve outstanding issues. Because they can’t. They don’t know how to.

    Some people have been convinced that leaving the EU would somehow save the NHS because of the money “saved”. The Secretary of State for Health wrote a book about dismantling the NHS. Then there’s TTIP waiting in the wings regardless of whether or not we stay in the EU.

    That being said, although I don’t affiliate myself to the Green Party from what I have read they seem to be the only political party acting sensibly about the in/out referendum. They acknowledge that the EU has problems but rather than running away from them – they say we should stay and fix them. How exactly they want to go about doing that is anyone’s guess. They aren’t going to do it. They’ve got as much political clout as I have.

    Therefore, I think, the best choice we can make when it comes to the EU referendum is to not vote at all. Probably.


    I completely agree with Richard Dawkins, none of us are even close to being qualified enough to know what is best. However, 84% of British scientists think we should remain. As the article says we know this isn’t based on a subjective gut feeling. That isn’t how the majority of scientists think, I may change my mind but this went a long way to reassuring me that remaining is the right choice.

    • A good proportion of their funding comes via EU. They are concerned it wouldn’t be replaced. I think it would.

  • I’m another who doesn’t feel remotely qualified to comment on the economic repercussions of stay or leave and is disheartened by the propaganda and scaremongering coming from both sides. But, as a long term emigrant living within the EU I am concerned about the repercussions I may face personally if the UK leaves (access to healthcare, pensions, free and easy movement and so on).

    The research I have done into the topic has been inconclusive – this may happen, might not – that won’t happen, then again it could…The only certain thing for me is that if we leave things will change. By how much and how drastically I have no idea, but the uncertainty means I choose to keep the current situation and I’ll vote remain.

    • You are protected under intonational law. If we leave nobody will be sent back. Your rights will be protected. If we remain things will also change.

      • I’m not afraid of being sent back (permanent resident permit with local wife) but I am afraid of other changes such as suddenly having to spend a fortune for any healthcare… What do you think might change if we remain?

        • I would not vote for a government who wanted to fundamentaly change your entitlement to healthcare. EU army, EU direct taxation, changes to port regulation. A federal Europe. The euro forced on us etc.

          • But as a Brit in an EU country my entitlement to healthcare may well change fundamentally if the UK leaves the EU…

          • Maybe. I don’t know enough about how its paid for now to comment but I can’t see a reason why fair arrangements can’t be made.

  • Ok let’s say for argument sake that this is their main concern, how can anyone confidently say that the funding would be replaced?

    “A vote for Brexit would not only remove all this crucial funding – up to $1.45 billion from the EU per year, according to one study – but the UK would also be unable to influence EU decisions as to where international scientific funding should best be allocated. Professor Paul Nurse, director of the London-based Francis Crick Institute and the former president of the Royal Society, likened a Brexit vote to betraying the next generation of scientists.

    “Being in the EU gives [the UK] access to ideas, people and to investment in science,” he said, as reported by BBC News. “That, combined with mobility (of EU scientists), gives us increased collaboration, increased transfer of people, ideas and science – all of which history has shown us drives science.” ”

    Surely not all British Scientists are basing their opinion on funding.

    • We would be free as a country to decide how much to fund or not. I cant see us cutting funding though.
      How do we know how the EU will chose to fund in the future? How do we know they wont move research elsewhere? Nobody knows the e future.

      • We don’t know, that is the point you’re right. So which is the lesser risk? In my opinion staying is the lesser risk. Although I take your point.

  • Here are some opinions. I don’t think such an important decision should be left to a population so bereft of information but it’s here now so….

    I don’t buy the undemocratic argument. All democracies need civil servants who actually have real skills to compliment the “talents” of our politicians. The UK has 400,000 of these. The EU only 50,000. If the EU is undemocratic then so is the UK and everyone else. Not having the right to unelect a specific individual personally doesn’t make it undemocratic either. There’s a process that is followed to elect the commission and this is widely available to research online. Just saying “unelected bureaucrats” and expecting that alone to be a world beating argument is not enough.

    Being in a union and member governments having to operate within the rules of that union is not the same as “Brussels telling us what to do”. I want my rights protected at a higher level where there is more safety in numbers and we have somewhere to appeal to should our government not behave appropriately.

    A lot is made of the threats from the EU of our treatment when we leave. As annoying as these may seem, that doesn’t diminish the possibility that we will be made an example of. When we leave the EU we have 2 years to legally separate. This is not a time for trade deals, this is just to negotiate the exit and all the legal/financial elements. This period cannot be extended without unanimous consent from all remaining member states. This is the point where they all start adding on their own unrelated wish lists which will make this very hard to extend so we should consider this a fixed deadline. After 2 years we revert to WTO trade tariffs. Look these up online and start budgeting for these in 2 years time. At that point, to try and reduce our tariffs we then go back to the EU to ask them for a trade deal, from a position of weakness. Any deal we arrange will almost certainly involve paying into the EU again, adopting their laws and regulations and possibly even their free movement of people. We could easily end up back where we started but we’ve lost our MEPs, our influence, and our veto over budget rises and new member states joining. I’m sure our politicians will find someone new to blame at that point. If you’re worried about soaring costs or new member states joining, it’s not a problem while we stay in and maintain our veto.

    Economically, Paris and Frankfurt are just dying to take financial services away from London. The draw to move is weak let whilst we remain in the EU. If we leave they start to have a more unique selling point. No one knows how this will go but they become our direct competition, with a larger pool of talent, rather than an equal member of the same economic area. I would prefer to maintain the atmosphere of cooperation between European states where we can work for our mutual benefit rather than introducing a higher degree of conflict. Certainly there is a decent consensus amongst economists that can’t be just dismissed by the out campaign. They need to give us the actual alternative they are promoting so we can investigate it. I don’t think they will because they know it will be bad for them.

    I also don’t want to see the UK breaking up which is a distinct possibility should we leave. At this rate we’ll be back to feuding villages by the year 3000….

    I don’t see a reason to vote to leave, or at least not one that is effectively fixed by doing so. The OUT campaign is like a list of complaints about he quality of television programs and their only solution is to throw the TV out of the window. The IN campaign just send people to sleep but I like sleep.

    • The difference between eu and civil services is the EU beurocracy initiate legislation and mep’s amend it civil services just implement political policy. There is some bluring i accept.
      Protection from our elected government seems a lot like democracy only if i agree with the outcome.
      Punishment for leaving seems like an abusive relationship to me.
      We will have the same opportunity as the rest of the world.
      I don’t think it would lead to scotland leaving but if thata what they want ok.

      • The difference in the functions of the civil services just reflect the differences in what is required in each organisation. Turning the words “unelected bureaucrats” into a pejorative and that being your main argument is a weak one. I’m not accusing you of that, but it’s a common refrain even from the likes of Boris who should know better.

        You could argue that the abusive part is us demanding better conditions than everyone else and threatening to leave if we don’t get it… and that they are merely matching our aggression and letting us know there’s no sympathy for us if we do.

        We we will have the same opportunity as the rest of the world… but we’ll have a lot of catching up to do. We might recover and be about the same. We might crash and burn. If we stay we have the safety of the Union. If we leave we don’t.

        We’re like the frontman of a semi-successful boy band and we’ve got carried away and decided we could go it alone. We’re sick of those pesky musicians telling us what to sing. It rarely works out.

        • How would I vote if I wanted to remove the EU present?
          What’s abusive about saying we don’t want to stay?
          I think that’s a risk worth taking.
          I can’t sing anyway.

  • This referendum has little or nothing to do with continuing EU membership.
    It is largely about the leadership of the Conservative Party.
    By law, Cameron had to hold this referendum before the end of June or end up splitting his party.
    Not easy with only a small parliamentary majority of less than 20.
    He was forced to hold the referendum to stop the Brexiteers from screwing up his government.
    If the British people vote “In”, then Cameron can continue as Leader of the Conservative Party.
    If the British people vote “Out”, then out must go David Cameron.
    His successor? Boris Johnson?
    That is what all the internecine squabbling among Tories is really all about.
    Jeremy Corbyn knows it, which is why he gives the appearance of just going through the motions on this issue.
    He is right to do so.

  • You’ve pretty much nailed my view on this, Stephen. I’m at a loss – I don’t even know what factors I would need to consider to make an informed decision. My fear (and it seems to be backed by the polls) is that people won’t have any idea how to answer the complex question of whether to leave or remain, so they’ll substitute a much simpler one, e.g. “Do I like immigrants?” (Google ‘Attribute substitution’ for more info – this is a well documented and evidenced cognitive heuristic.)

  • Others have stated that economists have little idea of the future of economics and they are right. However, despite my serious concerns about Turkey joining the EU and Angela’s Angels getting EU passports and some of them either deciding to fulfil their jihad duty on perfidious Albion, or less dramatically but more seriously, moving here and tipping the balance of anti-liberal, ‘crreeping Sharia’ politics – the issue for me is still economics. We are all hostages to the finance people and this won’t change with an exit. If they are saying that the economy will tank on exit, chances are this will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Over time we may get over this but it’s possible the EU itself will be destabilised and that way lies madness. There’s the threat from Russia, a power due to their gas and they will have much more leverage dealing with individual countries. I also think the west will come to its senses re immigration and when this happens (possibly with the loss of Sweden as a liberal democracy) we are better united than divided. I think I’ll be voting stay.

  • By the way, as someone who is a bit older, Britain was going down the tubes before the EU accession, Although the country was actually in the EU during the peak of it (blackouts, 4 day week etc), that was largely a hangover from the previous decades. Since the 90’s, when the benefits of entry really started to take hold, the UK has been booming – the worldwide credit crunch aside. And without the EU Greece and Portugal would have been more like Albania, which is now just struggling to meet the entry requirements. The Eurozone as a whole is currently stagnant, but without the growth of countries like Germany and the UK, many of the smaller countries might well be back to the days of the Colonels, or the Iberian dictators. That would be no good for anyone.

  • As an Australian, I can’t vote, obvs, but my daughter and her partner are 2 of an estimated 87,000 Aussies in the UK who are eligible to vote and they’re undecided. Their current thoughts are remain is the selfless option, while leave is the selfish option, since work visas may become easier for us after leaving.

    Really enjoying this discussion in the comments section. 🙂

  • Some ‘facts’ and figures – i.e. predictions based on analyses based on assumptions that could change more often that the British weather as world events unfold.

    The figures predicted here:

    put it at somewhere less than 4% down in the main scenarios, on an actual positive change in GDP of above 25%. Put this in the context of the second chart on this page:

    and it would be lost in the variability of the economy and world events.

    The point isn’t that there are no good models making predictions that might well come to pass, it’s that the predicted outcomes are sufficiently small and variable for people not to take the figures to mean we’re all doomed if we leave, or to prevent us accepting that loss in order to receive other benefits we feel will result from leaving.

    There are longer term issues about population and density of the UK and the political make-up that’s being influenced by the politics of new migrants into the EU that make these points come out in favour of exit, even if there is some economic cost for some time. We always have to work within the economic realities that we find around us.

    And I say all this as a pro-European. I’ve always wanted to be in the EU, and wanted to remain in EU, because I think unity and co-operation is better than divisiness that can arise with isolationism. I like it that we can treat such a massive land area and fascinating history with fellow Europeans as if it’s a shared home.

    I’m ideologically pro-European, but the political and social argument for leaving seems strong to me.

    My father was at Dunkirk in WWII. He and his generation didn’t just shut up shop and leave a failing and dangerous Europe to be run by a bunch of empire building mad men. They went into Europe, and with the help of other allies fixed it. Despite the strong case for leaving and isolation, I still think the principles are worth struggling for, so I’m voting to stay in.

    If there’s a financial benefit, or a financial cost, then that’s secondary. I’m not in it for the money.

  • I’m voting Remain as I don’t really know what Leave looks like. No one does. Even doing so, I’m hesitant as it obviously needs some kind of reform. But what does that look like? If both campaigns were not based on fear I might have more to go on. I agree with Dawkins here in that I feel we’re dangerously ill-informed as a nation to choose.

  • This is what remain looks like:-

    Using data from the European Commission The Independent averaged yearly net contribution to the EU for each country.


    The UK is the second biggest payer in the EU. By contrast, Poland receives massive inflows of cash from the EU. Why?

    Even countries like Spain and Greece are net recipients of EU funding.

    Why are we in the UK losing out to the extent we are?

  • This has been a very interesting read, from both sides of the argument, and it just illustrates all the more how complex a vote this is, as I am still undecided!
    I suspect, in the end, voters will opt for the devil they know, as there is no clear reason to vote either way.
    What a shambolic referendum, filled with rhetoric, scare mongering and supposition. Best of luck everyone – I sense we’re going to need it!

  • Is it fixable? If not it would be best to get out now.

    If we leave the economic situation is uncertain, but immigration can be controlled
    If we stay the economic situation is more clear, but anything could happen with immigration.
    So, there is uncertainty either way, but not the same kind.

    The UK break-up argument is disgraceful (and the tide is turning against the SNP anyway).

    Sad to say that I’m going a bit ad hominem. With the exception of the outstanding Hannan, and maybe Grayling, the leavers are a collection of the bat-shittiest MPs from across the spectrum.

    Having said that, all MPs are treating this like a party political issue, none seem willing to give a truly balanced argument.

    I’ll probably default to remain on the day, unless I can establish its broken beyond repair.

  • As the campaigning gathered momentum, I felt assailed by all the claims (distortions and outright lies?) on both sides, and hopelessly unqualified to assess them. In addition, I loathe most of the public figures fronting one side, while intensely disliking those on the other.

    However, in the last few days, all the disorienting fear-mongering noise has faded away (in my own head, not on TV!) as – for me – it ALL comes down to just one statement:

    The EU is an unelected government.

  • A number of comments:

    (1) Deportations. The Abu Hamza case was decided by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (ECHR). This is not an EU court (see e.g. the Wikipedia page )
    and is not to be confused with the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which is the EU’s highest court.

    (2) The ECJ does rule on some cases involving rights and deportations, however, and the principle is that EU nationals can be deported if they pose a serious threat to public security. The case of the “50 undeportable criminals” is dealt with by

    (nb: this website exists to make the case for the UK staying in the EU). Note that Cameron’s renegotiation did modify the test for deportation to make it easier to deport in these cases.

    (3) As several others have pointed out, we do extremely well from the EU scientific research programme. Personally, my confidence that the net inflow we get from this programme would be replaced after Brexit is zero. There might be a ramp-down, or a couple of years of replacement to generate some headlines.

    (4) It’s true that many of the forecasts of future economic performance are – unavoidably – forecasts, and that expert forecasters can still get things wrong. But since we are being forced to make the decision, and don’t have five years to study economics, I’m not sure what better way exists to work out the most likely best outcome. Or to put it another way: suppose the IFS or the IMF said Brexit was a really great idea, would Vote Leave then complain that they were just experts, or that they got something wrong 10 years ago?

    (5) I don’t buy the argument about sovereignty and control. First, there are massive areas in which the EU does not have competence – we can put up income tax, renationalise the railways or go to war with other countries if we decide to. Second, if it does turn out that leaving the EU ends up having the effect of decreasing national income, the resulting decrease in money available for public spending automatically restricts the control the government has on what it can do. Third, every time we sign up to any international organisation we give up one sort of control, in return for getting another. As members of NATO, for example, we’re obliged to regard a conflict involving Russia and the Baltic states as an attack on ourselves and respond accordingly. Imagine if the EU were to demand that of us…

  • I was born and brought up in Didsbury and I met my Irish wife when she was training to be a nurse in Withington hospital in the 1970s. I voted for the continued membership of the European Communities (as it was then) in 1975 following the UK (and Ireland) having joined in 1973. In 1986, we moved to live in Ireland with our newly born son – we didn’t want our son brought up in the riot-torn, industrially bereft and educationally destroyed country that Thatcher had created for the less well off in British society.

    Of course, Thatcher’s worse excesses were somewhat ameliorated by European legislation which, over time, created at least some level of rights for working people – the landed gentry didn’t (and still don’t) need rights and have plenty of money, most of it untaxed and off-shore, to manage whatever comes their way – and the arguments to leave today’s European Union appear, to me, to be mostly spearheaded by those self-same obscenely wealthy individuals with precisely nothing to lose by the UK leaving the EU but much to gain in further protection of their wealth and the removal of protection of ordinary citizen’s – sorry, “subject’s” – rights.

    I now have a law degree, which included extensive study of EU legislation; legislation passed not by faceless EU bureaucrats but by representatives of the governments of all EU States including, of course, the UK. All EU citizens have the opportunity to elect representatives in the EU Parliament. In the last EU Parliament election, the turnout in the UK was 35.6%, better than 1999’s 24% turnout but still not an indication that the UK electorate is really bothered about what the EU does. It is strange, then, that when people in the UK complain about how the EU operates and the effect it has on their lives, the probability is that 64% of them couldn’t even be bothered to elect people who could influence change and now many think the very best thing is to commit the economic, political and personal rights suicide that will result from a decision to leave.

    Unlike many of the around 1.5 million elderly UK ex-pats – who will become illegal immigrants in EU countries if the UK votes to leave – I have Irish citizenship and so I will not be repatriated to be a burden on UK housing, the NHS and the UK benefits system. Indeed, having a bit of an evil streak in me, I almost want to see a leave vote, the succeeding maelstrom will be interesting to watch from afar as the final nail in the coffin of the United Kingdom as an entity, the final chapter in the rise and fall of the British Empire.

    By the way, readers should note that it is the European Union that the UK is voting to either remain in or leave, not the Council of Europe. This means that the European Convention on Human Rights, and the right of citizens to have their human rights recognised by the European Court of Human Rights, will not be affected, although I understand that the UK Conservative Party wants to leave the Council of Europe as well. What will end is the right of appeal to the Court of Justice of the European Union so bye bye workers’ rights, consumer rights, environmental rights, etc., etc., etc.

    May you live in interesting times.

    • Your comments on EU mitigating Thatcher’s excesses seem a little anti democratic. She did lead a party elected to power. Would you feel the same way if a government with whose politics you agreed were prevented from implementing their policies?
      If you say those who I disagree with should be frustrated and those I agree with should be left to govern you are implying a dictatorship.
      How should I vote to remove one of the 5 EU presidents?
      Nobody currently legally resident anywhere would become an illegal immigrant as a result of our exit.

      • In 1979, Thatcher gained 43.9% of the popular vote and 53.4% of the seats in the House of Commons. In 1983, the numbers were 42.4% of the votes and 61.1% of the seats and, in 1987, 42.2% of the votes and 57.8% of the seats. The electoral system for UK general elections is, by definition, undemocratic, in that it is government of all the people by those elected by a minority of the people.

        To the best of my knowledge, there are only four presidencies related the European Union, President of the European Council (currently Donald Tusk), President of the European Commission (currently Jean-Claude Juncker), President of the European Parliament (currently Martin Schulz) and the Presidency of the Council of the European Union which rotates every six months (currently The Netherlands, whose term ends on 30th June.)

        The President of the European Council is elected by the European Council by a qualified majority for a term of two-and-a-half years, renewable once. The members of the European Council are the heads of state or government of the 28 EU member states, the European Council President and the President of the European Commission. In the UK’s case, that is the current Prime Minister. If you wish to lobby for, or against, the election of a person to the Presidency of the European Council, you can contact the heads of state or government of the 28 member states.

        The President of the European Commission is elected by the heads of state or government of the 28 member states, with the approval of the European Parliament. Again, if you wish to lobby for, or against, the election of a person to the Presidency of the European Commission, you can contact the heads of state or government of the 28 member states and, of course, vote for a Member of the European Parliament who you trust to properly represent you and lobby them.

        The President of the European Parliament is elected by the Members of the European Parliament. All the voters in Europe are eligible to elect Members of the European Parliament and, so, it is those directly representing the people of the EU who elect the President of the European Parliament.

        I am uncertain of your rationale for your belief that “nobody currently legally resident anywhere would become an illegal immigrant as a result of our exit”. Right of residence in the EU is based on citizenship of the EU. If the UK were to leave the EU, all British citizens would cease to be citizens of the EU. Therefore, automatic right of residence in an EU (or EEA/Single Market) state would cease. It seems to me that one of the reasons that people are giving for voting to leave the EU is to end immigration and, presumably, expel citizens of EU/EEA/Single Market countries currently resident in the UK. Unless the exit negotiations include retention of free movement of people (which Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have agreed to in order to enjoy the other advantages of agreements with the EU), then UK citizens in EU/EEA/Single Market countries will become de facto illegal immigrants in those countries. Given that many are going to vote to leave in the hope of ending immigration, it would seem that freedom of movement would not be included in any possible negotiations with the EU. It should be noted that, to get the agreements with the EU that Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have, freedom of movement was a deal-breaking requirement for the associated trade agreements and, of course, like Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, the UK would have to continue to make contributions to the EU budget – and comply with EU regulations – but without a seat at the table to vote on those regulations.

        Sorry to go on a bit but European Law was a major component of my law degree.

        • We voted in a referendum to keep our electoral system.
          Its not proportional but it is democratic.
          The real question was about overruling national government being ok if you disagree with that government but not if you don’t.
          Ok of the 4 presidents how do I VOTE to remove? I can’t they are appointed or elected by appointees not democracy.
          People normally resident in this country will not be repatriated. No party has proposed this. What will happen in the rest of the eu is their business but I can’t imagine their residence won’t be respected.

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